Director of institutional research brings rich background in sociology to newly appointed position

Wasson advocates teaching styles that allow adult students to connect new ideas with existing knowledge at regional conference

Published Apr. 09, 2009

Leslie Wasson, who brings a rich background in sociology to her position at the university, was named Lynn’s new director of institutional research, planning and assessment on Feb. 1, 2009. Wasson has published several essays in the Encyclopedia of Sociology on the topics of symbolic interaction, space and place, emotions and popular culture, and this week she is presenting her senior capstone class theory at a regional conference.

“Sociology is an excellent toolkit for an institutional research professional because it provides both qualitative and quantitative research methods and concepts,” says Wasson. “I’ve been able to apply those skills to research in higher education, local government, health care and private industry.  Sociology tells us about how groups and individuals make sense out of their environments and how they build their social norms and institutions. These are helpful lessons for anyone who wishes to support a large organization and its people.”

Wasson supports Lynn University – and the university’s new core curriculum – through her research of hands-on learning. On Friday, April 10, Wasson and her California colleague Cid Martinez will present their paper “Bringing Adragogical Teaching Methods to Senior Research Capstone Classes” to the Pacific Sociological Association in San Diego. Using Malcolm Knowles’ principles of adult learning, Wasson and Martinez demonstrate the flexibility of connecting new ideas with existing knowledge by applying them to a variety of learning styles.

“As the trend toward nontraditional students and mixed classrooms continues,” said Wasson, “we believe these techniques will continue to add value.” Senior capstone classes are not a new field of study for Wasson. In 2006, she was invited by the American Sociological Association to participate in a panel titled, “Combining Teaching and Research in a Social Science Capstone Seminar.” In this panel, Wasson took theoretical higher education concepts and applied them to work in the classroom.

“At the time,” said Wasson, “my students were mostly working adults, and theory didn’t connect with their existing knowledge base as effectively as hands-on applications. It’s important for people to be able to connect new knowledge to their existing knowledge. Once you create a learning environment in which those connections can happen, then you can build a theory that supports or explains them.”

Source: Wasson earned her Ph.D. in sociology at State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1999. She comes to Lynn from Chapman University College where she served as the associate division chair of arts and sciences and assistant professor and program chair of the department of social sciences. Prior to that, Wasson was the coordinator of interdisciplinary social sciences at the University of South Florida.

Since 1992, she has worked as an independent consultant in market research, process evaluation and organizational development. She conducts surveys, focus groups and market research analyses and provides statistical analyses and research reports for academic colleagues and corporate decision makers. Wasson regularly speaks to the media regarding interactive teaching styles for adults, symbolic interaction, space and place, popular culture and the sociology of emotions.

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