Using Star Point Activities in Online Chat Spaces as a Method of Engaging Students in Undergraduate Mathematics Courses

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Improving student engagement in our math classes is our major goal with this project.  We especially want to explore the possibilities of student engagement outside the classroom via the Piazza platform in Canvas. As instructors, we always encourage students to ask questions in class or during office hours. However, many students do not ask questions in class or visit the instructor.  This could be due to multiple factors: being afraid of asking "dumb" questions, not knowing what questions to ask, schedule conflicts, etc. Asking questions and talking about the course material definitely helps to improve student's understanding of the material. We believe that the instructor should not be the only person who's talking always. Therefore, we aimed to develop robust activities that helped build community among students and increase contact with the instructor beyond the stereotypical “post three observations from your reading and comment on two other observations.”

These activities were graded using a simple ‘star points’ rubric and student’s participation counted as a portion of their final grade. The star points grading system requires students to completed various activities in Piazza worth a certain number of star points.  The instructor sets the goal of how many start points should be earned by certain times in the course schedule.  At the beginning of the semester students will have zero points for the assignment. Star points can be earned throughout the semester through various participation activities in online chat space. Students can get star points for:

We established a simple but effective grading criteria to assess students on the above mentioned activities.  If you need the rubric feel free to email us. We gathered data to analyze the student perception of these activities, and currently we are looking at them.

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