University of Wisconsin–Madison

2.20.15: Brian Esselman on Piazza

Brian EsselmanBrian Esselman shared how he uses Piazza in his Organic Chemistry courses — both to provide practice for his students solving difficult problems, and as an administrative tool to lessen the amount of student emails he needs to attend to.

He then responded to questions from participants.

Some of the takeaways include:

  • Communicate to your students from the beginning that you will not answer email, but you are happy to respond to posts (and private posts to instructor) on Piazza. Stick with that policy! This gets them to go there more often, and it allows them to see the answers that others are asking.
  • Don’t answer student questions too soon. Give them a chance to work on each others’ questions, so they start to see each other as resources. Better to endorse a correct student answer than to answer it yourself.
  • It takes a few weeks before most will be on it. Some may never get on it. Participation spikes tend to map neatly with (the night before) quizzes and tests.

If you’re interested in stepping through a worksheet to get up and running with Piazza, try stepping through the Piazza worksheet we created for the session!


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