School of Education News

Badger Herald puts spotlight on 'The Discussion Project'

September 22, 2017

An article from the Badger Herald recently featured "The Discussion Project," which was developed by Paula McAvoy in collaboration with Diana Hess. The Discussion Project is a campus program that will train faculty on how to create productive discussion with students on serious topics in a more inclusive classroom. 

Paula McAvoy
McAvoy is the director of The Discussion Project, and the program director for the Center for Ethics and Education, which is housed within the Wisconsin Center for Education at the School of Education. Hess is dean of the School of Education and holds the Karen A. Falk Distinguished Chair of Education.

The program was piloted this summer, and the School of Education will continue to evaluate the program during the next several semesters. 

“If students simply sit shoulder-to-shoulder in lecture halls taking notes, students miss the opportunity to learn about the experiences of others,” McAvoy told the Badger Herald. “A classroom is also an important place to learn how to consider other points of view, build upon the ideas of others and to respectfully disagree.”

Research shows that students who feel more engaged in class and more connected to their learning and university also experience high-quality discussion. This is why it's so important for students to have a sense of community in the classroom, McAvoy said. 

Chancellor Rebecca Blank highlighted the program in the university's current campus climate progress report, as well as several other inclusivity and campus climate improvement initiatives, such as the "Our Wisconsin" program with the Division of Student Life, reported the Badger Herald.

“The main goals are to improve participants’ understanding of why discussion is important, teach them some basic principles for leading and evaluating discussion, and help them feel more confident facilitating discussion,” McAvoy told the Badger Herald.

Read the full Badger Herald article: "School of Education launches new program aimed at fostering productive discussion."

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