American Sociological Association

Teaching Enhancement Fund: Past Winners

Winners by Year


Susan Ferguson, Grinnell College, and Stephen Sweet, Ithaca College

Curriculum Mapping Tool to Advance Progressive Structures for Essential Learning Outcomes in the Sociology Major

Aligned with their position as members of the Liberal Learning 3rd Edition (LL3) Task Force and the Department Resources Group, Susan Ferguson and Steven Sweet plan to develop and test a curriculum mapping tool for departments. The tool will be used to guide sociology programs through the curriculum mapping process needed to both evaluate the extent that programs contain a progressive curricular structure and assess what revisions may be needed to achieve alignment with disciplinary best practices.

Albert S. Fu, Kutztown University of Pennsylvania

Assessing a Sociology Living Learning Community: Curriculum, Co-Curricular Activities, and a Culture of Good Writing

An incoming cohort of sociology students at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania will have the opportunity to join a living learning community. The goal of the community is to improve student writing by building a “culture of good writing” that begins at the start of the academic career. The students will live in the same residence hall, take the same classes, and participate in co-curricular activities. Assessment of the living learning community will consist of a mixed methods approach, including ongoing analyses of senior portfolios already in use at Kutztown. Fu will also collect data via reflective writing pieces.

Silvia Bartolic and Kamila Kolpashnikova, University of British Columbia

Quantitative Arts: Scientists by Nurture

This project is a response to the common student perception that learning quantitative methods is both difficult and unnecessary.  To combat this perception, Bartolic and Kolpashnikova will use a flipped classroom approach and problem-based learning to actively engage students. Class time will be spent working on specific problems with hands-on assistance from the professor and teaching assistants while using an online platform to engage students in theory and concepts. The designed curriculum will be shared across their campus in the sociology teaching repository, submitted to ASA’s Teaching Resources and Innovations Library for Sociology (TRAILS), uploaded to a project website for use by interested faculty and teaching assistants globally.

Shannon Davis, George Mason University

The Construction of Perceived Research Competency among Sociology Undergraduates

This project explores students’ perceptions of competency with regard to their performance of scholarly research.  By examining the individual and institutional correlates of perceived research competencies, sociologists can gain a deeper understanding of the specific mechanisms that influence perceived competency of undergraduates engaged in research. In addition to projecting students on a pathway beyond their degree, understanding processes that increase perceived student competency in scholarly research provides administrators with an basis of best practices to employ in mentoring programs and other curricular endeavors. Davis and an undergraduate research assistant will be analyzing data already collected from a survey administered at three universities.


Molly Clever & Karen Miller, West Virginia Wesleyan College

Building Effective Service-Learning for Social Justice

The funds provided will assist Clever and Miller in developing the Social Justice Studies major at their college. They will hold training sessions with faculty to align with Jacoby’s social change model for leadership development and to implement the program in ways consistent with research on the high impact practices for service learning. Their goal is to ensure that their program is effective in engaging students and efficiently institutes pedagogically sound assessment tools.

Dennis J. Downey, California State University-Channel Islands

Cultivating Quantitative Literacy in the Introductory Course: Applying a Mathematics Education Perspective

In an effort to close the quantitative literacy gap, Downey will use the award to create, deliver, and assess supplemental video materials designed to cultivate quantitative literacy in a medium-sized Introduction to Sociology class. Motivated by the prevelant quantitative literacy gap on his campus as well as for many first-generation and immigrant students, Downey is committed to seeing his students build a strong foundation in order to complete the research assigned in the capstone course.

Naomi Spence, Lehman College CUNY

Latino Families in the U.S.: An Authentic Research Experience

Spence will use the grant to support the development of a pilot research classroom experience, with students involved in inquiry-based, active learning on a subject relevant to their community (Lehman College is a Hispanic-serving institution in a predominately minority area of the Bronx). Specifically, her students will engage in survey research on Latinos’ family formation attitudes. This pilot course will complement several departmental and university-wide efforts to build the research and critical thinking skills of students and provide guidance for the development of larger efforts. 


Jesse Holzman, Carolina Calvillo, Michael De Anda Muñiz, William Scarborough, Emily Ruehs , and Barbara Risman, University of Illinois at Chicago

Empowering High School Students through Teaching and Research.

A group of graduate students from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) have partnered with Little 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

 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

 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.


Stephanie Medley-Rath, Lake Land College

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

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

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

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.


Janet P. Stamatel and Christopher M. Huggins, University of Kentucky

Comparing the Effectiveness of Lecturing vs. Team-Based Learning for Teaching Introductory Criminology

Stamatel and Huggins will assess how well the team-based learning (TBL) method works in the social sciences. They will also assess whether team-based learning is better suited to accomplish some learning goals more than others. The project will conduct a formal outcome evaluation comparing two methods of teaching—a lecture in a more traditional classroom and team-based learning. Team-based learning creates an environment where learning basic content is completed by students individually outside of class. Each method (lecture and TBL) will be used by the principal investigators to teach one section of an Introduction to Crime, Law and Deviance course. The common learning goals for each course are: 1) understanding the meaning of core concepts of sociological study of crime, law, and deviance 2) drawing informed conclusions about patterns of crime and victimization in the United States, and 3) comparing, contrasting, and applying theories of criminal behavior. The extent to which these outcomes have been achieved under each teaching method will be measured using in class tests, final grades and course evaluations.

Molly Talcott, California State University-Los Angeles, Dana Collins California State University-Fullerton, Sylvanna Falcon, University of California-Santa Cruz, and Sharmila Lodhia, Santa Clara University

Using the Case Method of Teaching to Promote Active Student Learning

Falcón, Talcott, Collins, and Lodhia have used the case method at their various institutions for nearly 10 years. Their project asserts that the case method approach to teaching encourages students to become more visionary problem solvers, and to identify multiple perspectives on varied social issues. However, the current selections of case study materials are either out of date, or, not geared towards teaching undergraduate students in the social sciences. In this project eight new and original case studies geared toward teaching undergraduate students and focused on a centrally important problem within sociology, gender/women’s studies, and ethnic studies will be developed. The case studies will be of use in a wide range of courses in both disciplinary and interdisciplinary fields including sociology, political science, women’s and gender studies, ethnic studies, and American studies. The long-term goal of the project is to develop an online archive of case study topics and teaching materials for easy dissemination to interested teaching faculty.


Natalie Byfield, St. Johns University

The Efficacy of Personal Writing as a Tool for Teaching Sociology

Byfield will use her funding from the Howery Teaching Enhancement Grant to continue her study of the effectiveness of using memoir writing as a tool for teaching sociology. Using a teaching method based on Erika Duncan’s Herstory pedagogy, her study will examine the ways in which people use language or other communicative actions to build the social structures in our world.

Elizabeth Lyman and Carla Corroto, Radford University

Faculty and the Application of Service Learning

Lyman and Corroto will use the Howery Grant to look at the distribution of service learning components among faculty and its implications. The study will answer two questions: (1) Who is doing the work of service learning? and (2) Are faculty who use service learning in their classes any more or less satisfied with their jobs than those who do not use it? They will be analyzing 2008 data from the Higher Education Research Institute on Faculty Performance and Educational Equity as well as qualitative data collected from the heads of service-learning departments in Virginia public universities.


Liz Grauerholz, University of Central Florida

The Impact of Institutional Changes on Teaching

In this study Grauerholz will conduct a series of interviews to explore the extent to which increasing consumerist attitudes around higher education impact teaching practices and expectations for students. Her study will first examine if sociology instructors perceive that major changes in the academy and classroom have occurred and the extent to which perceptions are shaped by institutional contexts and status characteristics. She will then explore the ways in which instructors perceive that their teaching has changed in response to such things as increased class size and increased emphasis on student evaluations in promotion and tenure decisions. Finally, the research will examine which pedagogical practices are believed to be the most effective responses in different institutional settings.

Scott G. McNall and Cynthia Siemsen, California State University-Chico

Understanding Rapid Climate Change: Causes Consequences and Solutions

This project works to integrate the issue of rapid climate change into the sociology curriculum by creating a faculty learning community. That community, in turn, will revise nine key sociology courses to expose both sociology and non-sociology students to a systematic sociological approach to the study of the causes, consequences, and the solutions of rapid climate change. Faculty from the California State University-Chico Department of Sociology who teach the following courses will constitute the learning community: Introductory Sociology, Classical Social Theory, Sociology of Wealth and Inequality, Ethnicity and Nationalism, Population, Social Movements, Political Sociology, Environmental Sociology, and Sociology of World Affairs.

Angela Harvey, Ohio State University-Newark

An Evaluation of the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program

The Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program is a national initiative directed at transforming ways of thinking about crime and justice. This program was established in 1997 to bring college students and incarcerated individuals together as peers in a classroom setting that emphasizes dialogue and critical thinking. Harvey’s project involves comparing a criminology course taught in the traditional manner with one based on the Inside-Out pedagogy. Pre- and post- surveys will be used to measure whether the Inside-Out course achieves the goals laid out in the program’s guidelines. Specifically, it will compare students’ perceptions about individuals who are incarcerated, as well as their knowledge and perceptions about the U.S. criminal justice system. It will also compare student’s long-term education and career goals and knowledge and experience in social policy and advocacy.


Kathleen McKinney, Illinois State University

A Multi-Institutional Study of Research Experience Capstone Courses in Sociology

This project will assess student learning and student perceptions of a one-semester, required sociology research experience capstone courses at seven different institutions that vary in location, size, public-private status, and co-ed or same-sex status. Since little is known about the outcomes of research-based capstone courses, McKinney’s work is poised to contribute significantly to the scholarship of teaching and learning literature and to provide insights that could improve curricular planning and course design across the discipline.

Carissa M. Froyum and Marybeth C. Stalp, University of Northern Iowa

Implementing a Teacher Development Pilot Program for MA Students

This study will implement and test the effectiveness of a small pilot program that prepares MA students to teach core sociology courses at community colleges in Iowa. The proposed pilot program will have three central components: a teaching-focused proseminar course, a congruent teaching practicum, and a guided teaching internship. The objectives of Froyum and Stalp’s program are to prepare MA students to teach core sociology courses at community colleges; train them to reflect upon and address "positionality" within the classroom; and engage them in the scholarship of teaching and learning. The project responds to the growing number of community college students in Iowa and across the country by seeking to advance the practice of preparing competent and pedagogically attuned community college educators.

Suzzane S. Hudd, Quinnipiac University

Arriving at a Sociology of Writing

When sociologists reference the deeper role of writing and its contribution to the development of our students’ critical thinking skills, they commonly refer to research in composition theory. This is despite the fact that a good deal of sociological scholarship onbpedagogical approaches to the assignment of writing already exists. This project will bring together the literature on writing in the disciplines (i.e., the theories of compositionists) with the scholarship of sociologists to initiate a more meaningful and multi-disciplinary dialogue about student writing in sociology that will expose the "hidden curriculum" surrounding the written work professors assign. Through interviews with sociologists across a wide-array of institutions, Hudd seeks to develop a "rhetoric of sociology." She hopes to define a "writing praxis" that supports this rhetoric. By treating writing as a socio-cultural phenomenon and linking it to the critical thinking skills it is intended to develop, she seeks to expose the shared aims between sociological writing and other disciplines. Hudd hopes to facilitate the compositional transition from one discipline to another.


Michelle Inderbitzin, Oregon State University

Michelle launched a project that incorporates an extensive service-learning component into an upper-level sociology course on juvenile delinquency. Her students will work directly with delinquent youth in Corvallis, OR, to develop community benefit projects based on the concept of restorative justice. A portion of the TEF grant will be used to provide seed money to launch the projects designed in the course. The course aims to develop a collaborative learning environment in which delinquent youth will experience college-level academic work and OSU students will learn from the particular experiences of their younger classmates.

Ronald L. Mize, Cornell University

Published and promoted student website projects from courses on comparative racial and ethnic relations in the United States and comparative social inequality. He intends for the projects completed in his courses to be brought to a broad public audience through the Task Force on Encouraging Public Sociology and Cornell University websites. Students have produced projects that address race and higher education, mass media, prisons, and immigration legislation. In the upcoming social inequality course, students will create project websites that analyze the production and consumption effects of commodities such as coffee, clothing, chocolate, and pharmaceuticals. TEF funding will be used to develop a central, polished website for the ongoing collection and publicizing of the student projects.


Wendy Cadge, David Cunningham, and Sara Shostak, Brandeis University

The group will pilot a program to integrate the teaching and learning of undergraduate and graduate research methods. Graduate students will be given the opportunity to serve as research consultants and project leaders in the undergraduate research class. The undergraduate students will have the opportunity to work with the graduate students in small research project groups, enhancing the “learning by doing” nature of research.

Karl Kunkel, Missouri State University

Karl will conduct a focus group assessment of a CD-ROM and active learning teaching strategy for a course on “Crime, Class, Race, and Justice.” All course material that was previously delivered in lectures will be turned into voice-over presentations on a CD-ROM, which students could use and review at their own pace. Students will view specific presentations prior to class so that the entire class time can be devoted to interactive learning exercises. The project will study whether the combination of better organized lecture material on CD-ROM and active learning within the class time enhances learning.

Kathleen McKinney, Illinois State University

Kathleen will conduct a longitudinal study of a cohort of sociology majors in order to research their development of identities as sociologists, their ability to use their sociological imaginations, their engagement in the discipline of sociology, and their sense of being autonomous learners. Self-administered questionnaires, face-to-face interviews, learning reflection essays, a sociological imagination essay question, and the Motivated Learning Strategies Questionnaire will be used to assess the development of the given cohort of majors.

Trina Rose and Sue Wortmann, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Trina and Sue will investigate the effects of using Personal Response Systems (PRS), also known as clickers, in large classrooms. Over the course of two years the devices will be used in large lower-level sociology classrooms, using an experimental design to determine their effects on attendance, active learning, community, student grades, and instructor evaluations. The project should shed light on whether these PRS devices are useful in sociology classrooms and whether they enhance student learning as an active pedagogy.

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