Dr. Amanda Gonzales, assistant professor of accountancy at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, pursues teaching excellence in the classroom through the inspiration she receives from students. Her passion to help students grow and flourish in the classroom resulted in her applying for and being named a Seacrest Teaching Fellow this fall in the College of Business.
“My students motivate me to continually reflect and grow as a teacher. Providing my students with the best learning experience possible is a top priority. The Seacrest Teaching Fellows program is a wonderful opportunity for me to benefit from the immense wisdom of my amazing colleagues in both the short-term as I pursue my next classroom innovation, and in the long-term as we continue to work together to help students thrive,” said Gonzales.
Through the college’s Seacrest Teaching Fellowship, made possible through the support of Rhonda and the late James Seacrest, Gonzales plans to investigate how to improve dynamics of working in team settings by 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.
“I plan to investigate whether students’ explicit recall of their individual and collective strengths as part of the team charter development enhances measures of team effectiveness such as team cohesion, member satisfaction and performance. This intervention builds on research in positive psychology that suggests identifying and using strengths increases individuals’ engagement and achievement,” she explained.
Dr. Aaron Crabtree, director of the School of Accountancy and associate professor of accountancy, advocated for Gonzales to receive the fellowship. He sees her work following along the lines of the College of Business strategic plan to provide transformational learning experiences both inside and outside the classroom.
“Not only are Amanda’s numbers from her student evaluations near the top of the Schoolof Accountancy, she consistently receives glowing and meaningful written comments. This speaks to her ability to connect with students. She is exactly the type of faculty member we want as a Seacrest Teaching Fellow,” said Crabtree.
Dr. Tawnya Means, assistant dean, director of the Teaching and Learning Center and assistant professor of practice in management, also noted Gonzales’ ability to resonate with the mission-focused goals of the College of Business. Through Gonzales’ use of research to make more meaningful connections in the classroom, Means believes it creates an ideal example for other colleagues to follow.
“Amanda’s willingness to develop resources and investigate the impact of her teaching innovation on course evaluations, student satisfaction, retention and performance will help other faculty in any department leverage organizational behavior literature on student strengths and positive psychology to impact successful teamwork in their courses using team charters. The current Seacrest Teaching Fellows are excited to have Amanda join the program,” said Means.
Gonzales emphasized her enthusiasm to join the three other Seacrest Teaching Fellows named last year. She believes it can only enhance her ability to help students be prepared to successfully address business-related challenges in the future.
“It is a tremendous honor to be selected. My long-term goal is to implement classroom innovation for group projects that students can apply to work effectively in teams in their future professional endeavors and to develop resources that faculty in any discipline can leverage to better use team charters in their courses,” said Gonzales.
Ongoing Seacrest Teaching Fellows projects include exploring student effort to see if there are specific characteristics correlated with effort, adapting teaching innovations to improve class participation and information retention and comparing in-class cohorts based on group composition characteristics.