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What is TRAILS?

The Teaching Resources and Innovations Library for Sociology (TRAILS) is an online, searchable database that aids in the creation and dissemination of peer-reviewed teaching resources. It facilitates instructors’ ability to update teaching materials with new empirical and theoretical advances in the discipline and it provides access to cutting-edge innovations in teaching and learning. TRAILS’ development rests on the philosophy that good teachers are not born; people can learn to be good teachers if they have access to effective teaching techniques and materials.

TRAILS utilizes peer-review for selecting effective pedagogical content as reflected in the submission acceptance criteria. The database includes assignments, assessments, essays, class activities, syllabi, and multimedia files on a broad range of sociological topics. Each resource in TRAILS is accompanied by learning goals and goals assessments to help users understand the purpose of the teaching resource and gather evidence about its effectiveness.

What is My TRAILS?

TRAILS subscribers each have a personalized page called "My TRAILS." This page allows you to see how many days are left on your subscription and track resources you’ve submitted for publication as they move through the editorial process. If you are an ASA member, you will also be able to see the newest featured resources in the areas of interest you specified on your ASA Membership Information Form.

Click here to log in and fill out or update your ASA membership information form.

What is the relationship between the ASA and TRAILS?

TRAILS is a project of the American Sociological Association (ASA), which has fully funded the creation of the site. TRAILS is managed through the ASA Department of Research, Professional Development, and Academic Affairs. Access to TRAILS is a benefit of ASA membership.

Visit the ASA homepage
Become an ASA member

Who are the Reviewers?

The TRAILS Editorial Board is made up of ASA members who have expertise in both pedagogy and content areas.

View the editorial board members.

Background and History

TRAILS made its debut in 2010 and was born out of the ASA’s Teaching Resource Center (TRC), established under the direction of Hans Mauksch, Executive Director of the ASA from 1975-1977. The original collection of teaching resources came in the form of printed and bound Syllabi Sets that were later digitized and became the baseline set of over 2,700 resources in TRAILS. Over time, the resources in TRAILS have grown far beyond these original materials.

The strength of the ASA’s plan for TRAILS was affirmed through the National Science Foundation awarding two grants in support of the project--through the REESE (Research & Evaluation on Education in Science and Engineering) and CCLI (Course, Curriculum and Laboratory Improvement) Programs.

How is TRAILS different from other digital libraries?

  • TRAILS materials are peer-reviewed.
  • TRAILS has a powerful search engine that will help users easily and quickly search for and browse materials and refine their searches.
  • TRAILS has a dynamic interface that customizes content presentation based on a member’s interests. For example, a member who teaches Sociology of Religion will be presented with the newest resources in their area each time they sign onto the system.
  • TRAILS includes reporting and evaluation components that allow for accountability and measurement of success.

How Can TRAILS help my teaching Curriculum Vitae?

All new submissions to TRAILS undergo a two-stage peer review process using public criteria based on empirically proven best practices in higher education. In this way, TRAILS provides a new form of evidence, which can be coupled with systematic peer review of teaching in the classroom, to help institutions more objectively measure excellence in teaching when considering faculty for promotion and tenure.

Once the TRAILS editorial board approves a submission, TRAILS automatically generates a cover page with a suggested citation. All TRAILS subscribers consent to the TRAILS User Agreement stating that any resource they use, either in its original or modified form, will contain a clear citation detailing the source of the material. This citation can also be used by TRAILS authors to update their curriculum vitae.

Why Should I Submit to TRAILS?

  • TRAILS cover pages, in conjunction with the electronic user agreement, create a citation system for teaching, allowing TRAILS authors to cite their teaching accomplishments alongside their research and service accomplishments on their curriculum vitae.
  • TRAILS provides a traditional and more objective form of evidence for teaching excellence to support individuals undergoing promotion and tenure review.
  • TRAILS helps restructure the faculty award system to consider the scholarship of teaching and learning through the peer review of teaching resources.

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