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Managing Effective Teaching Teams with Piazza

“You're developing a common language for how to write a solution to certain problems, and it's visible for everyone in the course to see. It spreads among the instructors and the students because there's this central place to see it.”

 

- Professor Daniel Erman on using Piazza in his large math courses.

Daniel Erman, Associate Professor of Mathematics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, hosts this session of the Piazza Lecture Series. Professor Erman discusses how he manages and trains  a team of TAs to effectively and efficiently manage large calculus courses on Piazza.

Erman regularly teaches calculus courses with other lecturers in the math department for over a thousand students. He’s found that there are several challenges that lecturers face when managing large classes, such as making the most efficient use of instructors’ time, creating a uniform experience for students across lectures, and being mindful of TAs needs for conducting research while also encouraging them to become independent teachers. As class sizes increase, Erman says “our goal is to give all of our undergrads a really high experience in the course, but we want to find a way to do this without overtaxing the TAs.”

 

Erman found that Piazza helped his TAs spend less time on replying to repeat questions over email and allows them to optimize their time spent on course management. In Professor Erman’s words, taking steps to demonstrate that he cared about his TAs time “developed a better working relationship, [which] has residual effects beyond just the individual course.” He also noticed Piazza allowed his teaching team to develop uniform responses to questions because their posts were visible to all, ensuring that students and instructors remained on the same page throughout the term about course logistics and grading.


We invite you to listen in on this session to learn how Professor Erman optimizes teaching quality, ensures equal student experiences in large classes, and offers his tips for best managing calculus courses on Piazza by creating better working environments for TAs.


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