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December 14, 2022

Four Faculty Advance Business Education as Seacrest Teaching Fellows

Fifth Fellows Cohort Innovates Classroom Experiences
Four Faculty Advance Business Education as Seacrest Teaching Fellows
Four College of Business faculty comprise the fifth cohort of Seacrest Teaching Fellows (left to right): Bob Mackalski, Amanda Gonzales, Heather Clemens and Roberto Stein. Through the program’s support, faculty conduct research or explore and evaluate a teaching innovation to advance classroom experiences for business students.

Named Seacrest Teaching Fellows earlier this year, four College of Business faculty are advancing classroom experiences for students. Made possible by the support of Rhonda and the late James Seacrest, the fellows program cultivates teaching excellence in the college.

“As new generations of students and new technologies emerge, we must adapt how we teach so our students graduate ready to lead the future of business. These fellows are leading the way in our efforts as a college to provide the best instruction we can. They incorporate something new into their classes and collect data to test if these changes are helping their students,” said Sam Allgood, faculty director of the Teaching and Learning Center and Edwin J. Faulkner Professor of Economics.

Faculty submitted applications describing how participation in the program would support their growth as a teacher. They also provided a statement of their teaching philosophy, curriculum vitae and a description of a teaching innovation, project or other instructional-related research question they plan to address in the program.

“A committee reviewed applications and selected fellows based on the topic they wish to study, the potential to make a significant impact on student learning and outcomes, and the ability to translate these findings to other classrooms so more faculty and students can reap the benefits of this research. Fellows receive an annual award of $6,000 and can apply to renew their membership for up to four years,” said Kasey Linde, associate director of the Teaching and Learning Center and program coordinator for Inclusive Business Leaders.

The fellows engage in activities to support teaching in the college by reporting back to faculty what they find and sharing best practices. They also help expand the impact of the Teaching and Learning Center through peer support.

“This program cultivates peer learning among faculty. For example, any time a faculty member said they were considering implementing group work in their class, we could point them toward Amanda Gonzales because of her expertise in that area,” Linde said. “This network will only grow stronger as we add more cohorts and expand the areas of research.”

The 2022-23 Seacrest Teaching Fellows include:

Amanda Gonzales, Senior Seacrest Teaching Fellow and associate professor of practice in accountancy
Serving as a fellow since 2019, Gonzales plans to continue investigating how to improve team dynamics and submit an article for an education journal with Steven Cain, senior instructional designer of the Teaching and Learning Center, about their findings. She said, “Group work is also a passion of Steven’s, so we’ve joined forces to write this paper and present at a national teaching conference next summer. He adds great insights from his background in pedagogy and higher education.”

Her previous work as a fellow explored having students develop and utilize a team charter. The charter, which students create, serves as a document team members use to specify objectives, roles, norms and processes.

“This intervention builds on research in positive psychology that suggests identifying and using strengths increases individuals’ engagement and achievement,” Gonzales said. “A key takeaway in our project is that 95% of respondents to the end-of-semester survey reported a positive experience with their teams. I think most instructors would be delighted to have students feel so pleased with a team experience. In November, we discussed course and project design decisions with the college’s faculty that might help instructors achieve similar results in their classes.”

Heather Clemens, Ameritas Actuarial Faculty Fellow, Seacrest Teaching Fellow, assistant director and associate professor of practice in actuarial science
Clemens looks to enhance learning by exploring the power of feedback. She said, “My goal is to enhance learning by increasing feedback opportunities and giving students ways to incorporate that feedback into their assessments. I am examining different sources and forms of feedback, the value the feedback provides and ways to implement that in the classroom.”

Robert Mackalski, Seacrest Teaching Fellow and assistant professor of practice in marketing
Mackalski sees an opportunity to utilize Nebraska-based companies as examples in class. He said, “There are a lot of interesting Nebraska-based companies. Yet, most of these organizations are not the go-to examples for class or case studies. This gives me the opportunity to look at the impact that studying local companies will have on student learning and fuel Nebraska-based specific content.”

Roberto Stein, Seacrest Teaching Fellow and associate professor of practice in finance
Stein plans to test whether group projects improve individual student learning and performance. He said, “Employers demand teamwork and collaboration skills, and many instructors use teamwork in many courses throughout our curriculum. I want to explore if this really improves student learning and performance and discover what works best in the classroom.”

Applications for 2023-24 Seacrest Teaching Fellows are due by June 15. Learn more about the program at: business.unl.edu/seacrestfellows.