Faculty Story: Piazza for Science

Read about a UBC example of using Piazza, featuring Jared Taylor, an Academic Integrity Program Manager and instructor at UBC. Jared uses Piazza in his courses to communicate with his students and to foster an environment for students to share knowledge with one another.

UBC Piazza Example for the Faculty of Science

What kind of content do you teach and how does Piazza enhance the student experience of the course?

I teach a large first-year biology course (BIOL 112) that is lecture-based with a lot of learning activities and resources built in. Each section of BIOL 112 typically has 200-250 students. The course utilizes iClicker Cloud questions, in-class worksheets, tutorials with group discussion, exams with a group component, extra worksheets and practice questions for studying, and Piazza for content questions and discussion.

In BIOL 112, Piazza is primarily used as a question-and-answer forum where students can ask content-related questions and help each other out.

So we only use the discussion board features in Piazza. The board is monitored by me and our peer tutor, and we help answer questions as needed. This enhances the course and student learning by having a 24/7 place for students to ask questions and a place to learn by teaching each other.

What are some of the challenges and is there anything about your approach that you would improve or change?

Piazza is easy to use, and we aren’t looking to change our approach.

The only challenge is to get students to use it more and take advantage of it. It does require adequate resourcing in terms of teaching team members to monitor the board and ensure that the students are getting correct answers in a timely fashion.

Do you have any advice for instructors hoping to implement Piazza in their course?

Don’t be afraid to try it.

You will need to be willing to invest time in monitoring the discussion boards, to ensure that the student discussion is productive and meaningful. But it can enhance the course and the student learning.

Faculty and staff looking for Piazza support, please contact us at the LT Hub.

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