American Sociological Association

ASA Footnotes

A publication of the American Sociological AssociationASA News & Events
September/October 2019

ASA Announces 2019 Howery Teaching Enhancement Fund Grant Winners

The Carla B. Howery Teaching Enhancement Fund (TEF) is a small grants program of the American Sociological Association. It supports projects that advance the scholarship of teaching and learning within the discipline of sociology. The ASA congratulates the 2019 TEF recipients:

Yasemin Besen-Cassino, Montclair State University, for “Qualitative Research Methods by Example.”

Besen-Cassino is designing a research-based curriculum for students in the graduate level course, “Interviews and Focus Groups, by providing a first-hand research experience for students, which is essential for their future studies and job market outcomes. The main activity for the project is three different focus groups. Having multiple focus groups will not only ensure there is diversity among participants but also provide ample opportunities for students to participate in different roles. The students will approach the focus groups with a qualitative research question. The students will invite a researcher who has done focus groups in the past to share their experiences with the class and share strategies for writing questions and techniques for asking the questions. And, they will conduct an expert interview with this scholar on their experiences. Based on the expert advice and scholarship read in class, students will recruit focus group participants, write the questions, and run the actual focus groups. Students will act as moderators, co-moderators, and note takers. After the completion of the data collection, there will be critical discussion sessions on the problems and methodological issues as well as ways to improve. By the end of the course, the students will be able to design focus groups, write in-depth interview questions, run focus groups, code, and analyze the results. 

Stephanie Teixeira-Poit, Jeanette Wade, and Tobin Walton, North Carolina A&T State University, for “Preparing Students for the Workforce through Research Methods and Data Analysis Skills.”

Research suggests that there is a digital divide between black and white college students in the United States. Previous studies have found that black students enter college with less familiarity with computers and fewer digital literacy skills than white students. This digital divide evident at North Carolina A&T State University (NC A&T), a HBCU with a high percentage of black, low-income, and first-generation college students. Many NC A&T students do not have access to a computer at home, relying instead on their cell phone or university resources to complete their academic work. In the sociology program’s research methods and social statistics courses, the goal is for students to learn computer-based data analyses skills making them marketable to future employers. Achieving this learning outcome without student access to computers is challenging. This project’s primary research question is: Can experiential learning approaches using computers help black, low-income, and first-generation college students overcome barriers to learning and improve learning of research methods and data analysis skills? The researchers will purchase laptop computers for use by students in the sociology program’s research methods and social statistics courses at NC A&T. Teachers will implement an experiential learning approach using these laptops in the fall 2019 and the spring 2020 semesters. They will provide students with a primer on computer literacy skills and then use the laptops to teach students data analysis skills using statistical analysis software. They will collect and analyze data to examine whether the computer literacy intervention and hands-on activities with laptops improved student learning outcomes. 

Congratulations to the recipients. For more information and to apply for the 2020 Howery Teaching Enhancement Fund, visit Applications are due February 1. Questions? contact