About the Madison Project | Webster University

About the Madison Project

The National Science Foundation-funded Madison Project began in 1957 and ran for nearly two decades. Initially at Syracuse University in New York, the Madison Project expanded to Webster College (now Webster University) in Missouri, and Weston, Connecticut. In addition to developing materials for teaching math, the Project provided summer in-service training in large cities across the country to thousands of educators.


Dr. Robert B. Davis was central to the Madison Project and his goal was to improve mathematics education. Davis expanded the curriculum and promoted the instructional processes that led to mathematical insight and interest. Some of the digitized films on this site are clips of Davis teaching basic algebra and coordinate geometry to second through fifth grade students.


Materials used in the Madison Project included teacher training manuals, films, “shoeboxes” of hands-on kits for topics such as Tower of Hanoi and The Peg Game, and Davis’s books Discovery in Mathematics and Explorations in Mathematics.


But the Madison Project was much more than its products. Dr. Judith Jacobs, who was involved with it for many years, says that the Madison Project was about “making sense of the mathematics by figuring it out by yourself, not having someone tell you.” 1


Dr. Katharine Kharas, another Madison Project facilitator, said the goal was “to change teacher’s minds about what kids could learn and how they learned.” 2


What was the Madison Project? is the title of Steven Schulman’s 2009 doctoral dissertation. In it, Schulman writes, “I sense that the Madison Project is really the point of view of the teacher. I mean, once it’s established, it just continues as long as that teacher, and any teacher associated with that teacher continues to work.” 3



Additional resources about the Madison Project

Project timeline


Davis, Robert B. The Madison Project: a Brief Introduction to Materials and Activities. 1965. ED028948



1Steven Schulman, What Was The Madison Project? (Doctoral dissertation) (ProQuest LLC, 2009, UMI No. 3373682), 298.


2Ibid., 331.


3Ibid., 286.