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UConn Advance

Three faculty named teaching fellows
By Sherry Fisher
May 23, 1997

Three faculty members who have excelled in the classroom have been named 1997-98 fellows by the Institute for Teaching and Learning during undergraduate Commen-cement ceremonies in the University's annual affirmation of fine teaching.

The fellows are: James Henkel, an associate professor of pharmacy and associate dean of the Graduate School, David Miller, a professor of psychology, and Katharina von Hammerstein, an assistant professor of modern and classical languages.

"The outstanding performance and dedication to the craft of teaching on the part of (Henkel, Miller, and von Hammerstein) make them exemplars of the University's commitment to excellence in teaching," said Mark A. Emmert, chancellor and provost for University affairs.

Teaching fellows are selected by their peers based on teaching excellence and dedication to the teaching profession. Each fellow receives a $2,500 stipend to support instructional programs. The fellows also give workshops on teaching, serve as mentors to younger faculty, or open their classrooms to teaching assistants.

Henkel, who joined the UConn faculty in 1977, is known for his ability to make extremely difficult chemical information understandable and meaningful to undergraduate students. He has taught courses in medicinal chemistry each year since coming to UConn to work with upper-division pharmacy students. Throughout the years, Henkel has consistently received excellent teaching ratings.

The secret
Two conditions are necessary for effective teaching and learning, Henkel said. First, materials presented to students must be organized in a way that is naturally synchronized to their learning styles. Second, students must be offered a number of opportunities to practice working with the material, including a chance to discuss it, defend it, and ultimately to master it.

Henkel uses various teaching methods, including learning modules and computer-based molecular modeling to illustrate the concepts of three-dimensional structural relationships of drugs, a technique he pioneered in the 1980s.

Miller joined the UConn faculty in 1980. He has taught courses in animal behavior, general psychology, biopsychology and developmental ethology. Miller recently converted a course on animal behavior to a self-paced, computerized, multimedia format, which has received accolades from students. The slides, video and sounds are all integrated to enrich students' learning experiences.

Miller works and reworks course material to energize old concepts with fresh perspective. His students have given him outstanding ratings. Their special recognition for his teaching efforts include Miller's election as "Professor of the Semester," his nomination for "Best Professor" and his "Outstanding Educator Award."

Von Hammerstein, who joined the German faculty at UConn in 1991, has taught courses in German - from freshman to graduate level.

Von Hammerstein's specialties are 19th century literature, culture and civilization, and interdisciplinary courses in the Linkage Through Language Program, an instructional project combining the study of foreign languages with course work in other disciplines.

Von Hammerstein is recognized by students and faculty not only for the time and energy she devotes to teaching, but for the time she spends helping students themselves become effective instructors and scholars.

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