May/June Issue • Volume 42 • Issue 5

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2014 Howery Teaching Enhancement Fund Winners

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” (2001). The 2014 selection committee has awarded $2,000 grants to three projects. With the help of this fund, the recipients can begin meaningful work that will help advance sociological pedagogy. The ASA would like to congratulate the following recipients:

Jesse Holzman, Carolina Calvillo, Michael De Anda Muņiz, William Scarborough, Emily Ruehs , and  Barbara Risman, University of Illinois at Chicago, for Empowering High School Students through Teaching and Research.

A group of graduate students from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) have partnered withLittle Village High School in the south Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago. The joint program was aimed at both preparing students for college and developing active citizenship and community engagement. By creating an AP-like Sociology class and implementing sociological methodology in a community-based research project, the high school students produced college-level academic work while also critically analyzing the problems that face their community. Throughout the 2013 fall semester several graduate students from UIC served as mentors and advisors to the high school students, providing guidance and feedback throughout the research process. The grant will allow the high school students to present their research at the upcoming ASA Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

Danielle Kane, DePauw University, for How Sociology Instructors Use Writing Assignments to Teach Critical Thinking Skills.

While it is generally agreed that the study of sociology increases critical thinking ability, there is little empirical research on how specific sociology assignments cultivate this skill.  Kane’s project will consist of interviews with sociology instructors about how they think about, design, and assess writing assignments and a content analysis of those assignments.  This research seeks to answer four questions: what do sociology instructors want to accomplish in assigning writing?; What do their assignments look like and why?; how do instructors assess writing?; and to what extent do instructors draw on campus resources? This project aims to serve the need of scholars who are teaching sociology to increase the impact of writing assignments.

James Kitts, University of Massachusetts, for Interactive tools for Teaching, Learning, and Investigating Dynamic Models of Social Processes.

The grant will aid Kitts to develop hands-on computer tools that allow students (and researchers) to explore social processes and social theories using dynamic computer simulations. Kitts believes that understanding the link between micro-level interactions and macro-level dynamics could have profound impact on the ways we engage in basic sociological research. An increasing number of sociologists are using computational models to clarify theoretical problems in social dynamics, often by applying computer simulations of sociological theories. Although a handful of interdisciplinary centers teach these tools, only a few sociology programs currently offer training in computational modeling, and this training is also not available in other departments or disciplines. The grant will support the development of a suite of computer simulation tools for classroom use that will be disseminated online for free.


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