Guide to using Piazza
Piazza is an intuitive Q&A platform for students to pose and answer questions. It fosters collaboration between students and instructors, plus significantly reduce emails from students asking the same question.
See below for an overview and tutorials on how to use it for your class.
For more ideas and technical support, email us or schedule a consult with a CTL staff member.
- Students can edit questions and answers wiki-style, enabling collaboration in a single space
- Questions and posts needing immediate action are highlighted
- Instructors can endorse students’ questions and answers, letting other students know what the instructor approves
- Instructors can allow students to participate anonymously, to encourage participation from the shyest students
- Piazza includes a LaTeX editor and support for code blocking, syntax highlighting, and runnable code snippets
- Customizable online polls to get a sense for where students stand
- Statistics that help instructors monitor participation, identify top contributors, and adapt teaching strategies
- Piazza runs on all devices: students and instructors can connect via iOS or Android mobile apps
- Best-in-class privacy and data protection
- Ability to lock down a class or specific posts with options to schedule ahead of time and ask private questions
- Accessibility option for assistive technologies
- Centrally supported and administered by the CTL
- Reasons to use Piazza
- Reduce admin work: Faculty report that Piazza saves them time. When students post their questions on Piazza, instructors or TAs respond to each unique question just once – instead of answering the same question multiple times over email.
- Encourage collaboration: Once a class becomes active on Piazza, students often contribute answers to each other’s questions on their own. Instructors can endorse or correct a response posted by the community to give confidence that it’s backed by the teaching staff.
- Engage all students: Students who would otherwise not actively participate or seek out help (be they too shy or geographically distant) can find their voice in the classroom and get the assistance they need through Piazza’s anonymous posting function, should instructors choose to enable it. Collaboration on Piazza stimulates discussion and active learning long after lecture ends.
- Get immediate help: Customer support is available 24/7. Email Piazza anytime at email@example.com and they will get back the same day, and more often than not, within the hour.
- Ideas for teaching with Piazza
- When a student emails you or AIs/TAs with questions, put the question on Piazza so that all students can view your response. Remind students to ask on Piazza so other students benefit from your response and so you are not a bottleneck in getting the student an answer. Faculty have suggested making an announcement on the first day of lecture that all questions should be directed to Piazza, either publicly (for all students in the class to see), or privately (for only instructors to see).
- Review and endorse student questions to direct other students to continue that discussion thread or encourage similar questions in the future. You can also endorse answers to indicate satisfaction with particular responses and encourage more responses. Encourage students by letting them know that you will be monitoring and endorsing student participation.
- Use folders to categorize questions by topic or day/week of the semester. Students will have to categorize questions by folder, which will help you and your students find related questions.
- Let questions sink in and ferment. You can choose to delay responding to a question so that other students can jump in with their ideas and teach each other. Encourage students to interact in Piazza and use it as a communication space.
- Use class statistics to review student questions and activity. On Piazza, you can view detailed class participation information to learn more about your students. The student participation report (visible on your Class Statistics page) lets you see which students frequently ask questions, answer questions, or simply read posts. Once sufficient class activity has begun, you can download these statistics at any time and use the underlying data to award participation points to your students.
- Extend existing questions and answers with a separate follow-up discussion section. Follow up questions can be hashed out in a more unstructured manner. Content from the follow-up discussions are often incorporated back into the community-edited question and answer above to build a single high quality question & answer combo. Instructors can also have private follow-up discussions with students.