Category Archives: Teaching Tuesdays

Teaching Tuesdays: Piazza – Less time answering student email, more student community

Teaching Tuesdays: Themed informal discussions on teaching and learning

When: 3rd Tuesday of every month 2-3:30pm
Where:
Center for Teaching Development — Center Hall 307
Why:
Because we’d all love teaching (and student learning) to be more effective, efficient and enjoyable.
Who: Everyone in the UCSD community interested in teaching and learning.

February Topic: Piazza
Less time answering student email,
more student community

Tuesday, February 19
2:00 – 3:30 pm
Center Hall, Rm 307

Faculty at UCSD are using Piazza as a convenient, friendly-interface replacement for

  • traditional class discussion boards and
  • dealing more efficiently with email from students in your class

(Piazza del Duomo by Bjorn Geisenbauer on flickr CC)

Piazza is built around the notion of the Italian “piazza” or public square where people can gather and talk.  In it, students in your class can post questions which can then be answered either by other students, or by you and your TAs.  The key difference of Piazza is that each question has exactly one instructor answer and exactly one student answer — which makes it much easier for members of the class to find and use answers from both their own questions and questions posted by others.  This is accomplished by allowing wiki-style editing of responses.

In this discussion, you’ll learn how to:

  • Save time and eliminate redundant effort in larger classes;
  • Solicit high levels of participation from students;
  • Enable shy students to ask questions with varying degrees of privacy

The platform has had impressive growth— capturing most STEM classes at the top universities (Stanford, Berkeley, Harvard, MIT, PrincetonCornell, and thousands more institutions). Students love Piazza and affectionately call it “the third tab” in their web browser (along with Facebook and Gmail).

UCSD’s Center for Teaching Development has invited Piazza CEO and founder Pooja Sankar to campus to help us learn more and to allow us to have a conversation about whether we would like Piazza to be supported more formally (e.g. within TED) at UCSD.

Brief intro to the speaker, Founder & CEO, Pooja Sankar:

Pooja started Piazza in 2009 during her tenure at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. Her inspiration for the platform draws from her hugely compelling personal journey (written about in the NYT). Her story begins in a small town in the poorest state in India, where she trained with her father and brother to excel on the entrance exam to the most coveted engineering school in India, IIT. There she was one of three girls in computer science; she felt isolated and,  without a bridge to her peers like Piazza, she struggled. As a graduate student at Maryland, she was forced into a traditional arranged marriage. She honed her skills as a software engineer at Oracle, Kosmix, and Facebook and built the confidence to pursue her passion: to empower students around the world, especially women and minorities. Today she is happily married to Shyam Sankar and mother to a baby boy, Arjun.

Teaching Tuesdays: What the flip is a flipped classroom?

Teaching Tuesdays
Themed informal discussions on teaching and learning

When: 3rd Tuesday of every month 2-3:30pm
Where:
Center for Teaching Development — Center Hall 307
Why:
Because we’d all love teaching (and student learning) to be more effective, efficient and enjoyable.
Who: Everyone in the UCSD community interested in teaching and learning.

January Topic:
What the flip is a flipped classroom?

Tuesday, January 22 *
2:00 – 3:30 pm
Center Hall, Rm 307

If you’ve been anywhere near a television, newspaper or web browser that reports on education, you’ve probably heard of the “flipped” classroom. And you probably have a few questions:

  • Does it work?
  • Do I have to know how to make YouTube videos?
  • Does anyone around here do it?

The answers to these questions are yes, no and yes. Bring all your other questions and answers to this casual, collegial conversation. With snacks!

Please RSVP so we’ll know how many to expect.

* Yes, we know, January 22 is the fourth Tuesday of January. But who counts January 1, anyway?

Teaching Tuesdays: Navigating CAPE Fear

Teaching Tuesdays
Themed informal discussions on teaching and learning

When: 3rd Tuesday of every month 2-3:30pm
Where:
Center for Teaching Development — Center Hall 307
Why:
Because we’d all love teaching (and student learning) to be more effective, efficient and enjoyable.
Who: Everyone in the UCSD community interested in teaching and learning.

December Topic:
Navigating CAPE Fear

Tuesday, December 18
2:00 – 3:30 pm
Center Hall, Rm 307

Your CAPE score is only one measure of your success this quarter. Whether you got a 98 or a 28, what do you do when the CAPE comments arrive in your inbox?

A) File the email without reading it because you don’t want to know.
B) File the email until “you’re in the right mood” to read the comments.
C) Read the comments, ignoring the positive ones but devastated by that one negative comment.
D) Read the comments and get angry, “What? They said THAT about ME!?”
E) Analyze the feedback, recognize your strengths, plan how to address your weaknesses.

Join your colleagues at this informal discussion about dealing with the students’ comment (even if you picked E.) We have some terrific resources for “navigating CAPE fear”. Holiday treats, too!

[Update Dec 19] Here are the resources we mentioned during the discussion:

  • Claire Potter’s essay on teaching evaluations. If you have any anxiety about receiving the students’ comments, this is a great read. You can follow her on twitter at @TenuredRadical. Here’s a hard copy (PDF), reproduced with permission, to put in your CAPE file folder or to give to a colleague,
  • Mark Applebaum’s 2007 report, CAPE and the Reward and Punishment Myth (PDF).This report gives a history of the CAPE at UCSD and looks for correlations with the two key questions, “Would you recommend this course?” and “Would you recommend this instructor?” He reaches this conclusion:

Based upon the results of over 2,000 CAPEd courses it would appear that students are basing their evaluations of the quality of the course and the instructor predominately on their perception of how much they learned in the course. While there are positive correlations between with the quality indicators and grades, this relationship seems, in the main, to be carried by the students’ perception of their learning outcomes. (p. 5)

  • The more students that complete the CAPE, the more valid the assessment. Well, whether or not you believe CAPE scores and comments are a good measure of an instructor’s ability, it’s worse when only a fraction of the students in a class submit a CAPE evaluation. Here’s a list of Tips for Increasing Response Rate submitted by UCSD instructors.
  • If you have any questions about CAPEs, check this FAQ for Faculty.
  • Finally, special thanks to my colleague Chris Goedde @chrisgoedde for answering my plea to my Twitter community for a witty title by suggesting the awesome title, “Navigating CAPE Fear.”