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Maxine Atkinson Award Statement

Maxine P. Atkinson, professor and head of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at North Carolina State University, is the recipient of the 2011 ASA Distinguished Contributions to Teaching award. Dr. Atkinson has made significant contributions to the scholarship of teaching and learning, mentoring of graduate students and new faculty, and the broader teaching movement. Her work in the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL); involvement in the ASA Section on Teaching and Learning and ASA Departmental Resources Group (DRG); numerous influential publications; and presentations at local, regional, and national venues provide an overview of her significant contributions to teaching and learning. Her seminal work on SoTL shows the knowledge of a 25 year career devoted to effective teaching.

Dr. Atkinson has won numerous teaching awards and other recognitions for her work. A sample of awards includes the Distinguished Teaching Award, Southern Sociological Society (2004); The Hans O. Mauksch Award for Distinguished Contributions to Undergraduate Sociology, ASA Section on Teaching and Learning (2007); and the Carla B. Howery Award for Developing     Teacher-Scholars, ASA Section on Teaching and Learning 2010; among others. Maxine was the first woman at NC State to win the Board of Governors’ Award for Excellence in Teaching, 2009, the most prestigious award given for teaching excellence by the North Carolina University system.

By developing materials to enhance the teaching and learning of sociology for both undergraduate and graduate students, mentoring new teachers, and offering local to national workshops for instructors of sociology, Dr. Atkinson has had an impact on instructors across the country.  She has published a number of influential papers in Teaching Sociology on integrating data analysis skills into the undergraduate sociology curriculum, on quantitative reasoning, and on what we know about teaching and learning in sociology. She is also in demand as a speaker and departmental reviewer.

Her publications and contributions have often been in collaboration with her own graduate students, thus demonstrating her mentorship skills, collegial manner of work, and her inspiration to others to become involved in SoTL activities. She has focused on scholarly areas that need reflection and research to move ideas to a new level. Her presentation as the recipient of the ASA Section on Teaching and Learning Hans Mauksch teaching award, “The Sociology of the College Classroom,” illustrates this point, demonstrating breadth and depth in thinking about and conducting research on the sociology of teaching and learning. 

In collaboration with her graduate students, her recent published work continues research into the college classroom. In 2009, Teaching Sociology published two articles: “Introduction: From the Outside Looking In: The Sociology of the College Classroom,” with Kristine Macomber and Sarah Rusche; and “Sociology of the College Classroom: Applying Sociological Theory at the Classroom Level,” with Alison R. Buck and Andrea N. Hunt. Her list of publications on teaching is a testament to her devotion to scholarly work in SoTL. She has also served on the Teaching Sociology editorial board for six years.

Her involvement in the ASA Section on Teaching and Learning shows the breadth of her contributions to the field. These include editor of the section newsletter, reviewer, committee member, taskforce member, council member and advisory board member for the ASA Departmental Resources Group. She has played key roles in national teaching initiatives such as the NSF/ASA integrating data analysis project and Preparing Future Faculty (PPF) program.

One testimonial to her impact on teaching and learning indicates that “Maxine has been a significant mover and shaker in the teaching movement within sociology. Maxine has made a career of mentoring better teachers of sociology nationwide and advancing the scholarship of teaching and learning.” Another states that “Maxine has been…a pivotal figure in promoting the importance of teaching.” As president of the Southern Sociological Association she promoted teaching through various channels, including the establishment of a teaching award and her presidential address: “The Scholarship of Teaching: Conceptualizations and Implications for Sociologists.” This address contributed new dimensions to the field of SoTL.

Dr. Atkinson has acted as a social change agent, working to promote and improve teaching, learning, and SoTL in our discipline. She has a determined passion for teaching, learning, and SoTL in the discipline and beyond, and has used her positions in the discipline to further excellent in teaching and learning. She has garnered respect and appreciation from professional colleagues at the institutional, state, regional and national levels.

Whether leading workshops on teaching, publishing in top-tiered journals, or mentoring instructors and graduate students across the nation, Maxine embodies the model qualities of a scholar-researcher and practitioner in teaching and learning.