Short Author Bio(s)

Maxine P. Atkinson is professor of sociology at North Carolina State University. Her research and teaching focus on the scholarship of teaching and learning. She has won the highest teaching award in sociology, the American Sociological Associations’ Distinguished Contributions to Teaching Award, and the highest teaching award in her state university system, the University of North Carolina’s Board of Governor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. Maxine regularly teaches a graduate course on teaching sociology and is currently working as a Quality Enhancement Program Faculty Fellow, mentoring faculty across the university in teaching critical and creative thinking and corresponding metacognitive strategies.


The social contexts within which we live have a remarkable impact on our daily lives as well as our trajectory. Contexts are also more specific. We teach in a context of a changing higher education institution. The purpose of this essay is to review some of the current conditions in higher education under which teaching and learning occur in the hope that it will help us consider their implications, suggest how we how we might take advantage of the opportunities that allow better teaching, and lessen the impact of the conditions that threaten improvements to teaching and learning. The economic climate, increases in the percent of contingent faculty and changing technology are considered