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Interview with Sara Lapan, University of California, Riverside

Sara Lapan Sara Lapan

Developing, coordinating, and teaching university math courses is a daunting experience, but one Sara Lapan handles with aplomb with her passion for education and a little help from Crowdmark. This Assistant Professor of teaching at the University of California, Riverside, is responsible for introducing Precalculus to around 300 students per term.

Sara was introduced to mathematics at an early age, the daughter of an economics professor at Iowa State. “Mathematics and economics were always a normal part of conversation at the dinner table in our house,” says Sara, who went on to earn undergraduate degrees in both subjects from the University of Chicago, and a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Michigan.

It was during her postdoctoral research at Northwestern University that Sara discovered Crowdmark.

Having taught since starting graduate school in 2007, Sara became accustomed to the inefficiencies of traditional grading. Crowdmark changed this. No longer does she and her team shuffle booklets in a cramped windowless room, sign out and carry stacks of booklets to her home, or deal with the anxiety of regrade requests.

“It used to be very stressful for me and my TAs when students came to us with regrade requests; the onus was on us to determine whether the questions were evaluated incorrectly or if the student changed their response. With Crowdmark, that worry is diminished as we have access to digital copies of all student work.”

In addition to introducing students to mathematics as an instructor—providing more formative and personal feedback through Crowdmark—Sara is also a champion of socially equitable and accessible learning environments. As a faculty advisor for UCR’s Association for Women in Mathematics, Sara supports the advancement of women and students in her field, and this November she co-organized an AMS special session on the Characteristics of Successful Mathematics Gateway Programs.

For many students at UCR, Sara’s courses are the first step in their path to academic and professional careers in mathematics and STEM fields. We’re glad Crowdmark is able to make that journey—for both the students and Sara’s grading teams—a little easier.

About the Author: Dustin is a senior account manager with DesignedUX, providing communications and marketing strategy to organizations in education and technology. Dustin is also a part-time faculty member at Centennial College and serves on the board of the Canadian Public Relations Society.