The NEH/Harry Jack Gray Teaching Enhancement Grant


Distinguished Visiting Humanists

Distinguished Teaching Humanists

- Spring Workshops
- Summer Workshops

- Bulletin Board

Outstanding Teacher Awards



University of Hartford

Lynne Kelly
Distinguished Teaching Humanist 1996-98

During my two years as Distinguished Teaching Humanist, I wanted to increase the perceived value of teaching excellence and the rewards associated with it as well as to continue to offer high quality workshops and discussions on issues of pedagogy. In addition, my goal was to serve as a resource to faculty colleagues interested in improving their teaching.

To achieve my first goal, I called together a group of faculty from a wide variety of campus units to brainstorm about how to increase the rewards for teaching. One idea emerged as the best yet most practical--the annual Outstanding Teachers Award. We designed the award to be given to up to five faculty members per year for outstanding teaching accomplishments, such as successful innovations, tremendous gains in student learning, or exceptional student-faculty interaction. We created a nomination and selection process that was simple and focused, and an accompanying reward of $500 for faculty development. Wanting the award to be highly visible and to, therefore, increase the perceived value of excellent teaching, we proposed that the award be presented at the opening faculty and staff meeting held in Lincoln Theater in August. Our proposal was approved all the way to the top. The award, funded by the NEH/Harry Jack Gray Teaching Enhancement Grant, has been presented to five faculty for each of the past two years.

In the position of Distinguished Teaching Humanist, I organized about three workshops or roundtable discussions each semester. Topics included "Constructing the Syllabus," "Humor in the Classroom," "Promoting Effective Class Participation," "Teaching Writing-Intensive Courses," "Using the Case Study Method," "The Learning Paradigm," "Implementing the Learning Paradigm," "Evaluating Group Work," "Service Learning," "The Teaching Portfolio Does Not Speak for Itself," and "Motivating Students." Faculty from many departments and colleges shared ideas and participated in these sessions, which were generally well attended.

I also let faculty know that I was available to discuss teaching and to observe their teaching to provide them with my assessment and suggestions. A number of faculty took my up on this offer. During my two years as Distinguished Teaching Humanist, I observed colleagues' teaching and provided them with oral and written comments designed to point out their strengths in the classroom and to identify ways in which they could improve. No doubt I learned as much about my own teaching through this process as they did about theirs. Moreover, I was delighted to learn firsthand what is accepted as common knowledge at the University of Hartford--that we have a caring and committed faculty who are excellent teachers!