Our founder and CEO, Pooja Sankar, started Piazza to help empower women and minorities through education, stemming from her own experiences as a student in college.
Pooja Sankar was awarded the Anita Borg Women of Vision award for Tech Entrepreneurship for the impact of Piazza - she encourages you, as a professor, to circulate this link as you encourage young women in your classes to pursue accomplishments in STEM fields.
Read more about her story at piazza.com/story.
From the beginning, Piazza has been built on the principle that increasing students’ comfort in their classes will improve their ability to learn and build confidence in their fields. When professors keep them enabled, features like anonymity and private postings help students, particularly women and underrepresented minorities, contribute in a safe and productive way.
As Piazza has gained wide adoption across top universities, especially in STEM classes, academics and researchers at universities that leverage Piazza heavily have published articles highlighting Piazza's impact on student comfort and their sense of safety in the classroom.
One independent study (Grasso, 2017) suggests that Piazza enabled student interactivity, content creation, and the formation of a knowledge community. The author, who studied activity in a large Biology class at Boston University, conducted an online survey of the 592 enrolled students in the class.
Some highlights of Grasso's findings were that 90% of students reported using Piazza at least once per week, and 85% of survey participants reported that Piazza helped their learning because of the ability to read what others posted.
In particular, many students cited Piazza as a risk-free space where they can get their questions answered and as a place where they can assess their learning. Students said that the anonymity feature provided a sense of safety where they could risk asking what might be perceived by some as “stupid” questions without anyone knowing who asked. One survey participant explained that Piazza helped her “to better understand concepts and questions. I am able to post anonymously so that I am not embarrassed to ask a question that I might have been embarrassed to ask in lecture.”
In interviews, some students went further and expressed a sense of camaraderie and unity of purpose with their classmates. One student explained that the exchanges on Piazza were “more of a team effort, more of we are all working together to pass this class. We all helped each other." This view was echoed by another student who said that it facilitated a sense of community “because we’re all in this together.”