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Gonzalez receives Wayne D. Duncan Appalachian State University Faculty Enrichment and Teaching Fellowship

gonzalez_t.jpgBOONE—Joseph Gonzalez, an adjunct assistant professor at Appalachian State University, has received the Wayne D. Duncan Appalachian State University Faculty Enrichment and Teaching Fellowship.

The $1,700 award recognizes innovative and successful teaching in Appalachian’s General Education program, a unit within the newly formed University College. The award was established in honor of Duncan, who is a past chairman of the Appalachian’s Board of Trustees and a current member of the Appalachian State University Foundation Board of Directors.

This is the second year the award has been presented.

Gonzalez teaches in the Department of History and the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies. Many of his courses have been taught in Watauga College, a residential general education program of about 100 students in the Living Learning Center. The program provides an interdisciplinary, globally focused general education curriculum that integrates curriculum, co-curriculum, and travel opportunities.

He also served as the director of the Living Learning Center, a combination academic and residential facility that house students enrolled in Watauga College, N.C. Teaching Fellows scholarship recipients and international students.

Gonzalez is praised for his ability to engage students in learning.

“Clear learning objectives define Gonzalez’s courses,” wrote one nominator. “He believes that students must create knowledge. As he says in his statement of teaching philosophy, ‘If students are to learn deeply, they must create – take ownership of – knowledge.'”

Gonzalez’s approach to teaching as a scholarly project was also cited. “Teaching is much like research, an enterprise that relies on a community of scholars for information, insight, and potentially, peer review,” he wrote in his teaching philosophy.

He also incorporates a community approach to teaching and learning. “At their best, communities of practice both support and challenge us, never letting us forget what it is to learn the unfamiliar, just like our students,” he wrote.

For example, one of Gonzalez’s real-world approaches to teaching is reflected in his course on the Iraq War in which students study the war and then travel to Washington, D.C., to meet with policy officials in the U.S. Department of State. He even has students come up with innovative ways to raise some of the money for the trip.

Colleagues who recommended Gonzalez for the award praised his encouragement of students to do whatever is necessary to pursue their goals. His modeling and use of critical thinking in his teaching was also mentioned. “What Joe is superb at is figuring out for a particular circumstance what needs to be done to engage students in the learning process; he then does it, checking with the students to see if it is working and changes what he’s doing if necessary,” wrote a nominator.

Gonzalez also was praised for the skills he brings to the classroom: the ability to connect with freshman students; a record of developing courses that engage students and allow them to do work they did not think themselves capable of; and passionate involvement in new research on problem-based learning.

Gonzalez came to Appalachian from the University of Michigan where he completed his M.A. and Ph.D. in history.