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The Carla B Howery Teaching Enhancement Fund is a small grants program of the American Sociological Association. It supports projects that advance the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) within the discipline of sociology. The Carnegie Foundation defines SoTL as “problem posing about an issue of teaching or learning, study of the problem through methods appropriate to the disciplinary epistemologies, applications of results to practice, communication of results, self-reflection, and peer review” (Cambridge 2001). The 2013 selection committee has awarded $2,000 grants to four projects. With the help of this fund, the recipients can begin meaningful work that will help advance sociological pedagogy.
Stephanie Medley-Rath, Lake Land College for Reducing the Financial Burden of College: Are Open Education Resources a Viable Option?
Medley-Rath will conduct research on alternative options to the textbook rental system currently in use at her institution. Her quasi-experimental design will seek to discover whether using Open Education Resources (OER) results in comparable learning outcomes among students while keeping costs reasonably low. In the fall semester at Lake Land Community College, Open Education Resources will be employed in two sections of Introduction to Sociology and traditional textbooks will be used in the other two (one online and the other web-facilitated). The project is important both because Introduction to Sociology is the sociology course most frequently taken by college students, and because a significant portion, if not the majority, of those students are enrolled at a community college where a large majority of students receive financial aid.
David Blouin, Indiana University-South Bend, and Allison Moss, University of Illinois at Chicago for Formal and Informal Teacher Training in U.S. and Canadian Sociology Graduate Departments, Revisited 20 Years Later
Blouin and Moss will conduct a mixed-methods investigation of graduate teacher training. They will first determine the extent to which departments employ students as teachers, whether departments offer graduate student training or preparation, and, if so, what that training looks like. To understand the effect of training Blouin and Moss will then conduct qualitative interviews with sociology graduate students to investigate the differences among the various types of teacher trainings discovered in the first part of their study. With only 50 percent of graduate programs offering formal teacher training, their findings can have important implications for the discipline, higher education, and more specifically graduate teacher training.
Tracy Ore, St. Cloud State University for The Use of Peer Learning Assistants in the Large Introductory Sociology Classroom to Support Student Learning
In an effort to keep up with changes in resources and demographics at her university, Ore will incorporate undergraduate Peer Learning Assistants in her 200-student Introductory to Sociology course. The project seeks to facilitate teaching and learning activities and assistance not available directly from the instructor. Ore will identify with the student’s personal and professional goals and help them see how sociological knowledge can be applied to their future work. Her project will attempt to overcome the barriers to learning many of her students face.. She will use her university’s resources, such as the Multicultural Student Services and the First Year and Transitions Program, to identity Peer Learning Assistants who represent the populations in her course as well those who initially struggled in her Introduction course but ultimately succeeded.
Ashley Rondini, Transylvania University for Health, Illness, and Community-Assessing Critical Consciousness and Learning Outcomes in a Multi-Site, Thematically Organized Service Learning Course
Rondini will use her funds to assess student learning outcomes of her service-learning course, “Health, Illness and Community.” She will evaluate the experiences of a multi-site, integrated learning approach. Additionally, she will be using qualitative interviews with her students to assess the development of “critical consciousness” in relation to the conceptual frame of health as a social justice issue. Service learning pedagogy encourages students to ask questions about the connections between social structures and societal problems. Her course, in particular, will help students cultivate their sociological imagination and use it to examine topics regarded to health and health care and their multi-dimensional aspects and sociological significance.