CDSS Instructors Honored with Five Awards for Extraordinary Teaching in Extraordinary Times

May 6, 2021

The UC Berkeley Academic Senate’s Committee on Teaching has presented two Extraordinary Teaching in Extraordinary Times Awards to instructors in the Division of Computing, Data Science, and Society in recognition of their innovative work to keep students engaged while learning remotely during the pandemic.

 One award was given to Lecturer Cari Kaufman of the Statistics Department and a group award went to Data Science Undergraduate Studies (DSUS) graduate student instructors Philippe Boileau, Anna Nguyen, Suraj Rampure and Allen Shen. Both Statistics and DSUS are part of the Division of Computing, Data Science, and Society (CDSS), which leverages Berkeley’s preeminence in research and excellence across disciplines to propel data science discovery, education, and impact. 

“We received almost 500 nominations for this award, signifying how our campus community embraced the instructional challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and ensured that our students remained engaged and supported,” wrote Glynda Hull, Chair of the Committee on Teaching.


Rethinking Statistics 2

Kaufman, who joined the Berkeley faculty in 2008, teaches Stat 2, an introductory course about statistical reasoning that typically draws more than 300 students.


“I’ve taught it for seven semesters, and I deeply love helping students--especially math-phobic ones!--explore a new, more precise way of thinking about learning from data,” Kaufman said. 


Kaufman and her team moved the class to a Zoom format for the Spring 2020 semester and were planning to continue in the same vein for the Fall 2020 semester.


“Like many of my colleagues, I resisted fully embracing online learning, and I disliked the idea of pre-recording lecture videos,” Kaufman said. “However, as the pandemic wore on, and my own ‘Zoom fatigue’ became more and more obvious to me, I began to wonder about this stance.”


Her decision to change her approach came after she sat down to watch one of her own 80-minute lectures, but could only make it through 15 minutes. She credits Berkeley’s Semester in the Cloud program with helping her think outside the classroom in adapting to remote learning.


“The Semester in the Cloud program gave me the time and resources to re-envision the core ideas of this course and rebuild it from the bottom up,” Kaufman said. “Interacting with students during this time has also deepened my awareness of student hardship in its myriad forms and prompted me to revise course policies to prioritize flexibility and empathy.”


Statistics Chair and Professor Sandring Dudoit announced Kaufman’s award to staff by writing “I am so glad that the University has recognized Cari’s outstanding contributions to our teaching mission, her innovative pedagogy, and her commitment to the well-being of our students. Congratulations and thank you for all you are doing, Cari! We are fortunate to have you as a colleague.”



Lecturer Cari Kaufman

Philippe Boileau

Anna Nguyen

Suraj Rampure

Allen Shen