By Steven Krolak
(NEW ALBANY, Ind.)—Congratulations to Gregory Kordsmeier, assistant professor of sociology!
Kordsmeier has been selected as the new editor of TRAILS, an innovative online peer-reviewed library of high-quality teaching resources, including syllabi, class activities, assignments, lectures, and more.
TRAILS is produced by the American Sociological Association (ASA), the national organization for sociologists with more than 13,000 members.
Representing a constituency of teachers, researchers, students, sociologists as well as workers in government, business and nonprofits, the ASA is positioned to provide services that promote the vitality, visibility and diversity of the discipline. Working nationally and internationally, the ASA articulates policy and implements programs that are likely to have the broadest possible impact for sociology now and in the future, according to its website.
“This is a huge honor for Greg and for IU Southeast,” said Kelly Ryan, dean of the School of Social Sciences.
TRAILS is more than just a database of research and resources. Each submission is peer-reviewed, and submitting authors must explain the goals of the resource, so that others can assess its purpose. Authors must also explain how their resource will deliver new knowledge to students, and show how students will demonstrate this newfound knowledge.
“TRAILS produces great work that highlights the importance of teaching and learning in the discipline,” Kordsmeier said. “By creating a repository of peer-reviewed teaching resources, it makes scholarly teaching more accessible to teachers in the discipline, while offering an institutional basis for rewarding great teaching by giving the imprimatur of the ASA to the wonderful materials our authors develop.”
Kordsmeier has been a published TRAILS author since 2015 and is a current TRAILS area editor in the areas of emotions and socialization.
As an instructor, Kordsmeier has used TRAILS to source ideas for assignments and activities, including a photography exercise that he uses in his Social Problems classes and an activity introducing the moral component of health and illness that enlivens his Medical Sociology class.
“As an area editor, I have loved seeing all of the new and innovative ways my colleagues around the country support and encourage student learning in sociology,” Kordsmeier said. “It has also sharpened my own critical eye when it comes to making sure that I have aligned all aspects of my teaching to my teaching goals.”
Thus the ultimate beneficiaries of Kordsmeier’s involvement in TRAILS have been his students, who enjoy courses that are well organized, activities that are relevant, and performance assessments that are accurate.
As editor, he will now supervise 30 editors in dozens of content areas ranging from mental health and quantitative methodology to micro-computing and emotions.
Just as important as the subject matter is the focus on the utility of resources for instruction.
“The research on teaching and learning suggest that there are many different ways that students can learn and that several teaching approaches can be successful depending on the content, students, and teacher,” Kordsmeier said. “We focus on things like making sure there is alignment between learning goals, activities, and assessments—in other words, is the teaching technique appropriate for the learning goals, and vice versa.”
While continuing to apply high standards of scholarly teaching to submissions, Kordsmeier aims to increase outreach to sociology teachers through workshops, broaden the offerings for graduate students and attract new collaborators and audiences from other areas of teaching and learning.
In announcing Kordsmeier’s selection, Margaret Vitullo, deputy director of the ASA, noted his varied background as a decisive factor.
“With experience teaching at a major flagship university, an elite liberal arts college, and at a regional campus within a state system, he is well positioned to recruit submissions from sociologists across institutional settings, and effectively guide those authors through the TRAILS editorial process,” said Vitullo.
For his part, Kordsmeier is honored to have been selected, and grateful to the academic culture at IU Southeast that melds the resources of the IU system with a commitment to teaching and learning, fostering a supportive environment for professional development that ultimately enriches the classroom experience for students.
“This editorship shows that IU Southeast is an institution that supports excellence in teaching and fosters that excellence both within the campus community and by encouraging leadership in this area on a national stage,” Kordsmeier said.