American Sociological Association

ASA Footnotes

A publication of the American Sociological AssociationASA News & Events
April/May 2019
Volume 
47
Issue 
2

ASA Program Reviewers and Consultants:
New Name—Same Great Resources for Sociology Departments

Edward L. Kain, Southwestern University

The Department Resources Group has been renamed ASA Program Reviewers and Consultants. Although many sociologists are familiar with the work of the Department Resources Group (DRG), a significant proportion continue to ask “What is the DRG?” To address this issue, we have confronted it directly, choosing a moniker that explicitly addresses what this set of ASA-trained consultants do to support and strengthen sociology departments. Namely, the consultants serve as external program reviewers and consult with departments on departmental priorities, retreats, and leadership.

For over four decades, ASA has trained consultants to serve as external program reviewers, lead workshops on a wide range of topics, and assist departments with things like curriculum development and assessment. In the 1970s, under the leadership of Hans Mauksch, Charles Goldsmid, and Carla Howery, the original ASA Projects on Teaching Undergraduate Sociology emerged from the work of a task force on preparing graduate students to teach. 

The Projects ultimately led to the establishment of the Teaching Services Program, and eventually the ASA Teaching Resources Center which published syllabi collections and other pedagogical materials. Faculty trained as consultants by ASA were given a parallel name--the Teaching Resources Group (TRG). Over time both became wider in their range of activities. The TRG was renamed the Department Resources Group (DRG). The former Teaching Resources Center was moved to an online format in 2010 with the establishment of TRAILS, a digital collection of peer-reviewed teaching resources that is available for free to members of ASA. (For more on the history of the teaching movement in sociology, see Mauksch and Howery 1986, McKinney and Howery 2006, and Weiss 2007.)

ASA Program Reviewers and Consultants receive ongoing training on best practices in program review, curricular innovation, and working with departments. In addition to regular training at the Annual Meeting, they stay in touch throughout the year to learn about new resources that can help them when working to strengthen sociology programs across the country.

What types of resources are available from the ASA Program Reviewers and Consultants?

Program Review. Perhaps the most used resource of this group is having them serve as program reviewers. You might ask “Why have an ASA-training program reviewer?” Kyle Longest, chair of the Department of Sociology at Furman University, which just had an external review this year, put it well when he said, “Using the ASA Consultants made the entire process of finding and coordinating External Reviewers seamless. It was easy to research a variety of Consultants’ backgrounds and perspectives to find those who would be the ideal fit for our goals. The ASA Consultants were well trained and had a clear and intentional approach to the entire evaluation process. They made their expectations and objectives transparent, which made our preparation and the entire visit much more effective. Both of our reviewers had a wealth of prior experiences with a diversity of departments to draw upon. I learned more about best practices in their two-day visit than I had during my first two years as a Department Chair.”

Mentoring Program. Another resource available through ASA Program Reviewers and Consultants is a mentoring program for sociology faculty taking on new leadership positions. One participant in the mentor program, Amy Guptill, College at Brockport, SUNY, said, “The work of chairing seemed fairly predictable before I started, but I was surprised by some unanticipated dilemmas. It was enormously helpful to have a mentor with whom to discuss issues as they arose. . . a person-to-person mentoring relationship was so much more helpful than anything I could read about effective leadership. I benefitted enormously from the opportunity to reflect on my work as chair with my mentor, especially in the context of my own professional goals. . . Having a mentor really helped me get the most out of the experience.”

Teaching Workshops, Assessment, Curriculum Development, and Department Retreats. ASA Program Reviewers and Consultants are also available to work with departments on a range of issues, including development of their curriculum, assessment, and teaching workshops. The consultants can also work with a department to plan and facilitate retreats and workshops.

Learn More About the ASA Program Reviewers and Consultants

At the ASA website, under the “Teaching and Learning” tab, click on “Department Leaders,” then on “ASA Program Reviewers and Consultants” (www.asanet.org/teaching-learning/department-leaders/asa-program-reviewers-and-consultants). You will be able to see a list of the current members of the group, read their abbreviated CVs as well as their statements of consulting approach. You can then contact the consultants directly to talk with them about your departmental needs. If you have additional questions or want to learn more about ASA Program Reviewers and Consultants, email ASA’s Research, Professional Development, and Academic Affairs at rpa@asanet.org

Resources

Mauksch, Hans and Carla B. Howery. 1986. “Social Change for Teaching: The Case of One Disciplinary Association.” Teaching Sociology 14:73-82.

McKinney, Kathleen and Carla B. Howery. 2006. “Teaching and Learning in Sociology: Past, Present, and Future.” Pp. 379-87 in The Handbook of 21st Century Sociology, edited by Clifton D. Bryant and Dennis L. Peck. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Weiss, Gregory L. 2007. “A Pedagogical Boomerang: From Hans Mauksch to Medicine to the Teaching and Learning of Sociology.” Teaching Sociology, 35:1-16.