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Kathleen McKinney Award Statement  

Kathleen McKinney, Cross Endowed Chair in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning at Illinois State University and former Carnegie Scholar on the Scholarship of Teaching, is the 2005 recipient of the American Sociological Association’s Distinguished Contributions to Teaching award. Dr. McKinney’s career aptly illustrates her dedication to all aspects of teaching and she has enhanced teaching at all levels through her own teaching, research and publications, and mentoring. Her teaching record ranges from the “Teaching Seminar” at Illinois State University to the many workshops she’s offered at ASA meetings as well as at various colleges other than her own. These workshops include topics such as “The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning” at the 2004 ASA annual meeting to “Teaching Large Classes: Encouraging Responsibility, Involvement, and Community” at the 2001 Midwest Sociological Society meetings to “Collaborative Learning Groups” at the 1993 Illinois Sociological Society. In other words, Dr. McKinney’s focus on teaching extends from the local, classroom level to the national level. Additionally, she has won numerous teaching awards throughout her career. She was first recognized at Oklahoma State University as a “Teacher of the Year” for the College of Arts and Sciences in 1984 as well as the University –Wide AMOCO Outstanding Teacher Award in 1985. Recognition of Dr. McKinney’s skill and talent as a teacher was similarly recognized at Illinois State University with the College of Arts and Sciences Junior Distinguished Teacher Award (1991) and Senior Distinguished Teacher Award (1994), and the Distinguished University Teacher Award for 1995-1996. She was formerly recognized by the ASA Section on Undergraduate Education with the Hans Mauksch Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education in 1996 and today provide further recognition of Dr. McKinney for excellence in teaching.

An important aspect of Dr. McKinney’s teaching is that it is highly informed by her own research and publications. Her research focuses on the relationship between gender, characteristics of faculty and students, and learning outcomes. An important aspect of this research agenda is in how she defines learning and the factors that impact it. From “How Sociology Majors Learn Sociology: Successful Learners Tell Their Story” to “Instructional Development: Relationships to Teaching and Learning in Higher Education” to “Contrapower Sexual Harrassment: The Effects of Student Sex and Type of Behavior on Faculty Perceptions,” Dr. McKinney uses a variety of methods and data to explore the myriad ways that perceptions and interactions affect learning. This active research agenda concerning teaching and learning is highlighted by two key points. First, her research has been published in a wide variety of academic, peer-reviewed journals such as Teaching Sociology, Journal of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, Sex Roles, Journal of Sex Research, and Journal of Marriage and Family. Additionally, Dr. McKinney is author, editor, or co-editor of four published books, three ASA teaching resource books, and six monographs or manuals on teaching. The second key point highlighting Dr. McKinney’s active research is the local and national recognition she received by being appointed a Carnegie Scholar on the Scholarship of Teaching as well as becoming the first Cross Endowed Chair in the Scholarship of Teaching and learning at Illinois State University.

The final aspect of Dr. McKinney’s distinguished contributions to teaching concerns the way she has mentored an entire generation of talented and dedicated teachers/scholars. While each committee member can recount a way in which she has influenced his or her own teaching and research, the letters supporting her nomination provide eloquent evidence of Dr. McKinney’s impact on teaching. Written by a range of colleagues, from former students and colleagues to Illinois State University administrators to previous recipients of this same award, all the letters attest to her enthusiasm, professionalism, support and encouragement, and most importantly, to her foresight, skills, and talent as a teacher and researcher. More to the point, former students attest to Dr. McKinney’s talent, skills, and passion as a teacher – including her ability to teach large classes – “I recall my amazement with Kathy’s energy level and ability to engage not only the students in the front row, but also those who sat furthest from her. Her lecture style was engaging and warm and she used a diverse array of imaginative pedagogical techniques, which incorporated various styles of learning. Whether it was the use of collaborative learning groups, dyadic techniques, or individual and subsequent small group activities, Dr. McKinney strove to accommodate students at multiple comprehension levels.” Her colleagues highlight Dr. McKinney’s enthusiasm for improving the teaching of sociology at all levels – “I have been continually impressed with the quality of Kathleen’s work, and her enthusiastic willingness to volunteer to work on projects that improve the teaching of sociology, and research on teaching and learning.” Another colleague writes that “Kathleen uses her classes as laboratories to study how to enhance student learning. She reads widely and is exceedingly knowledgeable of the most recent theories and methods used to enhance student learning. She continuously applies what she learns from the scholarship in her classrooms and simultaneously is always collecting data in her classes that become the bases for book chapters, articles, and presentations. Her commitment to the dialectical relationship between scholarship and teaching demonstrates Kathleen’s dedication to teaching and learning.” Finally – Dr. McKinney’s time as editor and on the editorial board of Teaching Sociology as well as her active participation and contributions to the teach-soc list serv further exemplify her contributions as a mentor to us all.