Managing Student Questions with Piazza — Example Microbiology

Example of using Piazza to manage student questions in a large class

Managing Student Questions with Piazza

Professor Timothy Paustian, Department of Bacteriology, UW-Madison shares his example of using Piazza to manage student questions in a large class.

"When I first started teaching in a large classroom one of the major time sinks was answering students' questions via Email. This created several problems. First, dozens of emails would come in each day from students, getting intermixed with other communications not related to the class. Second, often the questions were redundant and I ended up answering similar questions over and over. Third, email is a limited form of communication, restricting file sizes, making it difficult to link to other resources, etc. The built-in discussion tool in Canvas is useful for organizing students to work together or answer a single question, but it is not a great interface for general discussion.

The integration of Piazza into Canvas solved these problems. Piazza is a discussion board where students can post questions and get timely answers from you or your teaching team and other students. It has many nice features. By directing students to Piazza, and out of my email, I was able to clear my inbox. Students are also able to post anonymously to Piazza, removing the fear of asking a 'dumb" question. There is a powerful and easy to use search interface and an ability to link back to previous posts, eliminating the need to re-answer a question. Finally, the tool has a rich interface allowing the incorporation of all sorts of media."



"Piazza is a powerful tool that can centralize and streamline communication in your course. It takes all the questions that students might have and puts them in one central location. Students can search for answers, ask questions, and answer other student’s questions. At first, the interface for Piazza can seem intimidating, but once you understand how it works, it’s very easy to use. The below video goes through setting up and using Piazza."

Video Examples

Making Piazza Visible to Students

Setting Up Piazza

Piazza in the Canvas Course

Technical Documents

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