Georgia Gwinnett College honors faculty and staff for excellence by flipping the script

Pic of Dr. Joshua Morris

GGC honored Dr. Joshua Morris with the Outstanding Teaching Award during its Fall Recognition event. 

By Charlotte Reames, Class of 2021, GGC Communications intern

Joshua Morris, Ph.D. wants to flip the script on chemistry. Instead of typical classroom lectures on a complex subject, Morris, an associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Georgia Gwinnett College (GGC), posts easy-to-follow chemistry tutorials on YouTube, a popular social media platform utilized by 81% of Americans.

Morris’ innovative use of technology was one of the many reasons why GGC selected him to receive the college’s Outstanding Teaching Award. Morris was among more than 60 faculty and staff who were recognized at the 14th annual Fall Recognition ceremony. 

“My main motivation is to serve students so that they not only know the academic content, but also so that they’re prepared to live a good life holistically,” Morris said. “I think that comes from building mentoring relationships inside and outside of the classroom as well as from delivering the content well.”

Morris produced more than 165 chemistry videos on his YouTube Channel, called “Real Chemistry,” which has, thus far, attracted more than 850,000 views. He also encouraged his students to produce their own videos as a form of experiential learning.  

Morris uses his YouTube videos to invert the traditional teaching model into a more interactive style called a flipped classroom. Students watch his videos outside of class in place of a lecture. Then, class time can be used for solving problems with his guidance.

“It’s important for students to try these challenging problems with continual feedback from an expert, this is especially true in chemistry which can be frustrating for students,” Morris said. 

In addition to creating innovative videos, Morris mentors inside and outside of the classroom and has published two peer-reviewed papers with student co-authors.

GGC also honored five other faculty members for special awards, which reflect the four core pillars of GGC: Scholarship, Leadership, Service and Creativity.

The additional award recipients included Dr. Binh Tran, associate professor of information technology for Outstanding Faculty Service; Dr. Ellen Rafshoon, professor of history for Outstanding Student Engagement; Dr. Seungjin Lee, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry for Outstanding Scholarship and Creative Activities; Dr. Shoshana Katzman, associate professor of biology for Outstanding Faculty Mentor; and Dr. Walter Biel, part-time faculty for information technology for Outstanding Part-Time Faculty Teaching. Staff members Lisa Schaffer and Leslie Wilson were also recognized for their outstanding service.

“The administration and the higher educational system are asking faculty and staff to do a lot, and it can be hard,” Morris said. “It’s very important that they know that their work matters and that it’s seen by others.”

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