What have we learned?

During this pilot year, we have focused on fine-tuning the curriculum. Kate McCleary, Ph.D., evaluator with The LEAD Center (Learning through Adaptation, Evaluation, and Dissemination), observed each session, collected an evaluation after each module, and administered a pre-post survey for the overall program. A focus group was carried out with one cohort of participants.

Survey results across all three cohorts showed that participants deepened their knowledge about what discussion is and the characteristics of good discussion. Participants reported feeling better able to prepare students for discussion and for treating discussion as an academic skill that can be taught and assessed. Participants greatly appreciated the opportunity to discuss teaching and learning with colleagues from across campus. Data from the most recent survey showed that 100 percent of the participants who completed the survey (n=22) were in agreement that they would recommend The Discussion Project training to a colleague (68 percent strongly agreed and 32 percent agreed).

Scale Validation

The Discussion Project staff and evaluators from The LEAD Center are currently working to create a validated scale of discussion engagement. Once validated, the measure will show changes in student discussion engagement levels. An intent in creating this scale is to assess whether students’ discussion engagement increases following a semester after having taken a course with an instructor trained in The Discussion Project.

Another research opportunity down the road is to look a the differences in discussion engagement of students in courses where their instructor has participated in The Discussion Project in comparison to students with instructors who have not participated in the training.

Paula McAvoy and Kate McCleary contributed to the conceptual framing of the scale and development questions. Tenah Hunt, Ph.D., evaluator with The LEAD Center, developed the plan for the discussion engagement scale and is carrying out the validation process with a team of students.

Affiliation of Participants

African Cultural Studies Afro-American Studies Agricultural & Applied Economics Anthropology Asian Languages & Cultures
Civil Society & Community Studies Curriculum & Instruction Dairy Science Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis Educational Psychology
English Gender & Women’s Studies German iSchool Law
Liberal Arts & Applied Studies Management & Human Resources Math Nelson Institute Nursing
Philosophy Political Science Rehabilitation Psychology & Special Education Soil Science Spanish & Portuguese
Wisconsin Collaboratory for Enhanced Learning

“This is probably the most valuable teaching-centric experience I’ve had in my 11 years on campus.”

– Catherine Arnott Smith, Associate Professor, iSchool