In-Person course

3-day in-person course

The Program Basics

The Discussion Project an in-person course for designing and implementing equitable, inclusive, and engaging discussion in university classrooms.

Please see below for the learning objectives and topics that will be covered during The Discussion Project program.

Learning Objectives

The Discussion Project course will help university instructors ...

  • Create an equitable and inclusive classroom climate conducive to high quality discussion.
  • Distinguish between discussion and other forms of student talk.
  • Learn different ways to structure and facilitate discussion.
  • Learn to craft questions that foster discussion.
  • Create, implement, and reflect on plans for discussion.
  • Implement strategies that develop students’ discussion skills.
  • Understand the purposes and methods of assessment for improving discussion skills.


Contact us for pricing information.

Modules of Instruction

Day One

Module 1

Building Community

Module Content

Attributes of Classroom Learning

Rank order & partner discussion

The Last Word Protocol: Data Set #1

Students’ experiences with discussion

Training overview & set up: 

Norms and Working Agreements, introduction modes / methods of instruction, etc. Our main modes of instruction are 

  • Modeling (showing how to teach)
  • Explaining (telling you what we’re doing)
  • Experiencing (you will be learning through experiencing the activities)
  • Debriefing (reflecting on what you experienced to model the power of formative assessment for future improvement and also to consolidate learning

Module 2

Defining Discussion

Module Content

  • Distinguishing discussion from the broader category of student talk
  • Planning Workshop #1: Increasing student talk  (time to apply learning and start to build a discussion plan)
  • Structured Academic Controversy, as an experienced example of discussion. Issue: Should university instructors grade classroom discussion?
  • Planning Workshop #2: Opportunities for classroom discussion (time to apply learning and start to build a discussion plan)

Module 3

Facilitating Whole Class Interactions & Discussions

Module Content

  • When and why do we have whole class interactions, including discussions?
  • What are the main whole class facilitation techniques that increase participation and engagement?  Interact with the Guide to Whole Class Facilitation Techniques (resource)
  • Take part in a Whole Class Discussion on a grading policy: Would you use this policy for grading classroom discussion participation?
  • Whole Class Facilitation Skill-Building
Day Two

Module 5

Planning & Assessing Discussion

Module Content

  • Guide to Designing a Discussion Plan (resource)
  • Planning Workshop #3: Draft your Discussion Plan 
  • Snowball Discussion: Analysis of Example Discussion Plan
  • Assessment Overview & Discussion Assessment Tools
  • Walking Discussion on Assessment
  • Planning Workshop #4: Draft your Discussion Plan
  • Helpful Language for High Quality Discussion (Activity)

Module 4

Structuring Discussion & Crafting Questions

Module Content

  • Why small group discussion?
  • Jigsaw Discussion on four texts that address students' experiences with equity. 
  • Crafting Questions: How to craft high quality questions for discussion.
Day Three

Module 6

Critiquing Discussion Plans

Module Content

  • Planning Workshop #5: Complete your Discussion Plan 
  • Critical Friends rounds -colleagues provide feedback to each other on their Discussion Plans
  • Synthesis Activity: Principles of Discussion

Module 7

Maintaining Community

Module Content

  • Equity & Inclusion Case Study Discussions. Case studies each describe a rift in classroom climate.
  • Recipe Activity: Recipe for Classroom Discussion 
  • Closing Carousels