Erin Schwartz Recognized by the College of Arts and Sciences
Dean's Service Award
In recognition of exemplary service in support of the College of Arts and Sciences. By honoring such leaders, the College demonstrates its commitment to College, University, community, and/or professional service as essential to our mission, governance, and enhancing our community of teaching scholars, student advocates, and University citizens.
Erin is a Senior Lab Instructor and Coordinator who has taught at Santa Clara since 2017. Her primary responsibility is to support the three-quarter introductory Biology curriculum. This sequence was radically redesigned a few years ago to emphasize active learning, with each class team taught using a flipped classroom and a laboratory experience. The courses were just starting to gel when the pandemic hit—a disaster for a curriculum that is explicitly designed around close in-person contact.
Over the summer of 2020 and throughout the 20-21 academic year, Erin did the seemingly impossible—she entirely redesigned the laboratory experience from the ground up so that it could be delivered remotely. She didn't simply adapt the existing lab modules for an online format; rather, she started from first principles, considering the learning objectives of each existing module, and then constructed online experiences from scratch that addressed as many of these learning objectives as possible. Over the four quarters online, Erin consistently assessed student learning and sought out student feedback, incorporating changes to improve the laboratories.
Colleagues teaching in the sequence described Erin as "unbelievable", "life saving", "a rock star" and "a mountain mover." During a year in which we were all stretched thin, Erin’s efforts stood out, and our life science majors benefited tremendously. For her impactful contributions to the introductory Biology curriculum, Erin Schwartz is a most worthy recipient of the 2021 Dean’s Service Award.