Stevie Rudak | September 18, 2023
App Reimagines Student Engagement
Economics Professor develops innovative tool to encourage equity in classroom participation.
“Part of my job is to make sure students stay engaged,” said Economics Professor Cameron Harwick. “And teaching an 8 am course is tough for everybody.”
To overcome the challenges of teaching an early morning class, Harwick leveraged his background in web development to create Pick.al — an educator-friendly app that encourages classroom participation. Pick.al gives students more opportunities to speak during class and allows educators to track other details using a designated notes section.
“I see this app as a way to make participation points less subjective in education.”
“The notes section helps to remind myself of where a student usually sits or if they’ve communicated an excused absence to me for a certain date,” explained Harwick. “When midterm or final grades are due, I can go into each course to download participation scores as a CSV file and use them during my grading process.”
Harwick views this application as a way for quieter individuals to showcase their knowledge.
“For the more charismatic students, I know their names and they talk to me all the time, so of course they get participation points,” said Harwick. “So, I see this app as a way to make participation points less subjective in education.”
Since launch, Harwick has cultivated a more vibrant classroom, filled with well-engaged students.
“After one semester of using Pick.al, I’ve observed students paying more attention during lecture and doing better on tests,” said Harwick. “My hope is that this serves as an easy and useful tool for any educator.”
Here’s how Pick.al Works
- Set up an account.
- Add a “New Class.”
- Fill out the following criteria: Class name, dates of the course, and button schema of your choice.
- Add your “Student Roster,” to the course by uploading a CSV file of students who are enrolled in the class. This CSV file must have student’s first and last names.
- Start “Choosing Students,” to call on during lecture.
- Use the button schema to track each student’s participation and the quality of their responses.