Challenging first-year students to value learning

On a typical Wednesday afternoon you might find her in the CUB coffee shop — and you are welcome to have a latte with her. Lisa McIntyre, associate professor of sociology, welcomes the opportunity to interact with students and informally continue discussions initiated in the classroom.

Actions such as the “Lattes with Lisa” endear McIntyre to her students, and throughout her 18 years at WSU she has been honored with numerous awards that demonstrate an appreciation of her efforts. The entire WSU community now has taken notice, as she is the 2005 recipient of the Sahlin Faculty Excellence Award for Instruction.

“She not only does a great job teaching the students, but she builds the students as first-year university attendees,” said Gregory Hooks, chair of sociology. “In many ways she provides a foundation for first-year undergraduate and first-year graduate students — teaching them how to learn.”

McIntyre faces a challenge at the beginning of each semester as professor for an introductory sociology class — most of the students are there because they have to be; they need to fill a requirement.

“I have to persuade them that sociology is pertinent,” she said. “Sociology is relevant to being a successful person in this society. Understanding people and how they interact in groups and organizations aids in many working situations.”

Her signature class, Sociology 101, attracts 480 students each semester.

Central to the success of her class is “The Practical Skeptic,” an introductory text McIntyre authored originally just to help WSU students learn the complexities of sociology. The text is now used in 180 colleges in 40 states and in the U.K.

“She takes a real interest in each individual student, particularly new graduate students,” said Michelle Robertson, a graduate student in sociology. “The transition into graduate school can be a bit rocky at times … she goes out of her way to support us.”

McIntyre draws from her own experiences as a student to keep her lectures informative and interesting. “I had a professor in graduate school named Don Levine. It was Levine who taught me about good teaching. His lectures were both engaging and informative. I was awed by his ability to bring to life the material in a lecture. He became my role model,” said McIntyre.

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