February 2013 Issue • Volume 41 • Issue 2

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TRAILS Top 10 Resources of 2012

Jaime Hecht, ASA Academic and Professional Affairs Program


TRAILS (Teaching Resources and Innovations Library for Sociology) is ASA’s subscription-based, online, interactive, peer-reviewed library of teaching and learning materials. TRAILS is entering its third year of operation with encouraging progress. The TRAILS community consists of sociologists in dozens of fields who are working together to advance excellence in sociology pedagogy. Working in concert with the ASA staff, TRAILS is uniquely positioned to advance the field of teaching and learning in sociology.

The Top 10

We just finished our top 10 count down on our TRAILS Facebook page (www.facebook.com/ Trails-The-ASAs-Teaching-Resources-and-Innovations-Library-for-Sociology). In case you missed it, here are the 10 most downloaded resources of 2012. We hope you will join our Facebook community and help us to build a forum in which to share your experiences with TRAILS as well as find news and information in the field of teaching and learning in higher education and sociology. We want to congratulate and thank the following authors for their valuable work:

trails photo

From TRAILS resource “Public and Private
Urban Space

  1. Introduction to Sociology by Robert E. Wood—This syllabus explores the role of technology in teaching Intro to Sociology, while allowing for students to gain practical, hands-on technological skills applicable to academic and applied settings.
  1. Using Article Abstracts to Illustrate Research Concepts by Katherine Novak—This class activity is a lesson in inductive vs. deductive research as well as an introduction to the four broad categories of research studies (descriptive, explanatory, exploratory, evaluation).
  1. Public and Private Urban Space by Paul Walker Clarke and Carla Rose Corroto—A PowerPoint presentation using work by Jane Jacob to explore urban ecology. By diagramming the private, semi-private, and public spaces in residential blocks depicted in street-view photographs, students become familiar with how the built environment conveys meaning.
  1. Crossing Legs and Opening Doors: A Lesson in Gender Socialization by Cherise Harris—This class activity facilitates an understanding of how socialization impacts gender roles, and how major social forces such as family, religion, school, peer groups and the media are also gendered.
  1. The Four Sources of Evidence by Daniel Buffington—This introductory-level assignment explores the strengths and weakness of the four sources of evidence: ethnography, surveys, experiments, archival documents/texts.
  1. Illustrating the Social Construction of Race and Racial Stereotypes with Images by Gwen Sharp and Lisa Wade—This activity generates a context in which students show each other the ways in which race and ethnicity are socially constructed. This student centered approach to teaching the social construction of race allows for more student engagement and intellectual discussion.
  1. Article Comparison Assignment (Same Questions, Different Methods) by Alexandra Marin—In this assignment, students examine two research papers using different methods to answer the same question. By doing so, a broader understanding of how research both relates to, and impacts, findings is achieved.
  1. Intro to Social Research by Daniel Davis—This intro syllabus offers an alternative approach to teaching a methods course. It utilizes outside the box learning techniques such as the 10.20.30 method which is often used in the business world for pitches and presentations. It refers to keeping power points to a maximum of 10 slides, lasting 20 minutes with a 30 size font.
  1. The Mist and the Sociology of Religion by Marci Cottingham—This activity allows for students to explore the five main characteristics of fundamentalism in the sociology of religion. A viewing of the film The Mist is a catalyst for discussion on the emotional and cognitive responses to the religious and sociological concepts in the film.
  1. Friendship Diversity Exercise by James Vela-McConnell—Our most frequently downloaded resource in 2012 is a lesson meant to acquaint students with the idea of the sociological imagination and demonstrate its relevance for their own personal lives by exploring their friendship patterns. Through this exercise, students will be able to draw comparisons between race, class, gender, and sexual orientation in terms of their impact on close friendships.

Thank you to all the authors who submitted resources in 2012 and to all the users who applied them in their classrooms. Increase your teaching credentials by submitting TRAILS. ASA Members can submit their teaching and learning resources to TRAILS free of charge. We also invite sociologists at all levels to explore our resources (you do not need to be subscribed to browse). With TRAILS you will find opportunities to enhance your own teaching practice, better train students and teaching assistants, and strengthen your chances of promotion and tenure. We hope you join us in 2013 as it is sure to be a prolific year for TRAILS. See the TRAILS website at trails.asanet.org for more information.

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