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Peer Review of Teaching

The Center for Teaching Excellence and Innovation is pleased to offer its Peer Review of Teaching program at the University of Hartford. Based on recommendations from the Peer Review of Teaching Task Force and widespread faculty input, we have designed and implemented a program that we believe has the potential to further elevate our commitment to teaching excellence on campus.

As you may know, there are a number of documented benefits to the peer review of teaching, including but not limited to:

  • Providing other points of view about teaching beyond student evaluations
  • Improving awareness of colleagues’ course content and pedagogy
  • Reinforcing effective teaching methods
  • Prompting self-reflection
  • Increasing confidence in teaching
  • Starting more conversations about teaching
  • Providing feedback to faculty to improve pedagogy, syllabi, assignments, etc.

Trained faculty, who have teaching expertise across disciplines, with varied student populations, in a range of course formats, and with diverse pedagogical approaches facilitate the peer review of teaching process (please see bios and photos below).

Mirroring best practices, faculty reviewers are available to all full-time faculty to conduct a comprehensive peer review of teaching. This includes, (1) participating in a pre-observation meeting where the reviewee identifies goals for the teaching observation, (2) observing a lesson, and (3) participating in a post-observation meeting where the reviewer and reviewee discuss their reflections on the lesson. Peer reviewers will also share their reflections, in writing, which the reviewees may choose to use in any way they see fit. These written observations are strictly confidential! 

To participate in our peer review of teaching program, please review the details for each trained peer reviewer listed below by clicking the plus + sign to right of their name. The descriptions will give you a sense of their teaching foci. Reviewers need not be content area experts or even in fields related to your own. In fact, individuals from different disciplines can sometimes offer the most helpful feedback coming from a fresh perspective. Narrow your choices to your top 3. Then, please complete the form at this link, click: Peer Review of Teaching Request Form which will alert us and allow us to contact your peer reviewer colleagues. You will be asked to share relevant course information and your top three peer reviewer preferences.

We will do our best to get back to you in 48-72 hours with next steps.

We are very much looking forward to having you take part in this process!

Trained Peer Reviewers

Stewart Frankel, Biology, A&SStewart Frankel has been teaching in the Biology department of the College of Arts and Sciences since 2003. He has held various administrative roles (Associate Chair, Co-Chair, Chair) and has taught courses on introductory biology (for majors and non-majors), molecular cell biology (a combination of cell biology and introductory biochemistry), and career preparation. His classes can be large lectures, mid-size lectures, small discussion groups, and small laboratory sections. He uses a wide range of teaching and learning strategies, such as cooperative learning groups, active learning techniques (think-pair-share, Jeopardy-style competitions), peer instruction, and inquiry-based laboratories. He is particularly interested in strategies for teaching critical thinking.

James Fuller, Architecture, CETA Jim Fuller joined the full-time faculty in the spring 1995 semester after teaching as an adjunct in the spring 1994 semester. He is now an Associate Professor of Architecture and Chair of the Department of Architecture. In the undergraduate Architectural Design + Technology program he teaches second and third year architectural design studio, Senior Design Thesis, and has taught a variety of technical as well as seminar courses. His teaching pedagogy focus is on engaging students in interactive dialogue through exploring architectural history, theory, and practice. Recently he has incorporated story telling in the design studio as a way of providing a venue for students to relate their personal experiences to the design problems and process. The design studio, by nature, includes lecture, student presentations, team projects, research, and student self-reflection. He comments that “over the years it has been valuable and rewarding to have colleagues review course materials and pedagogy. This has provided me with insights to continuously improve my courses and the student experience.”

Donna Menhart, Music Theory, The Hartt School Donna Menhart began teaching as an adjunct faculty member in the Music Theory program at the Hartt School in 1993 teaching undergraduate ear training and music theory. She became a full-time faculty member in 2011, specializing in Kodály Ear Training, and as an Associate Professor currently teaches Ear Training and Ear Training Pedagogy at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Professor Menhart is a Master Teacher in Kodály, and has taught for the Kodály teacher certification program at the Kodály Institute at Capital University, OH, and currently teaches in the graduate summer Music Education program at Hartt. “I enjoy analyzing and exploring the unlimited ways to approach a pedagogical challenge, constructing scaffolds to support student success, and differentiating methods towards common objectives. I appreciate various perspectives and the reflective process initiated by peer review, and am pleased to be supporting the UH faculty with this program.”

Anne Pidano, Psychology, A&SAnne Pidano began her teaching career at the University as an adjunct professor in 1995, joined the full-time faculty in 2005, and is now Professor of Psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences. She teaches in the doctoral program in clinical psychology, with a current focus on courses in child psychotherapy, family psychotherapy, and clinical practice. Pidano has taught small to mid-size classes utilizing a range of techniques including lectures, small group activities, role playing, student presentations, journals, and team building strategies. She notes "It has been extremely valuable for me to have colleagues visit my classes and provide feedback and suggestions -- I'm honored to have the opportunity to do the same for others as a member of the University's first cohort of trained peer observers."

Jack Powell, Psychology, A&SJack Powell joined the University of Hartford in 1988, and is currently Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences. Powell was awarded the University’s Roy E. Larsen Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2011 and was a Faculty Fellow of the Humanities Center in 2017-2018. He has taught numerous courses at the undergraduate and graduate level, from Introductory Psychology for first-year students, to research methods and statistics for psychology majors, to Social Psychology for third-year doctoral students. He enjoys providing feedback for faculty in their teaching and finds he learns something new about teaching every time he observes other instructors.

Sheetal Sood, Special Education, ENHP Sheetal Sood, an Associate Professor of Special Education teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in special education. She helps pre-service teachers develop and differentiate between wide ranges of instructional strategies to ensure that their students can reach their highest academic potential. She uses a variety of teaching strategies in both face-to-face and online settings. Sheetal believes that students should be active learners in the classroom. She provides explicit instruction as well as opportunities for students to explore and learn. Her research interests focus on investigating methods to improve mathematics instruction for pre-K through elementary school students who are at risk of or are identified with a disability.

Ying Yu, Electrical and Computer Engineering, CETA Dr. Ying Yu is currently an associate professor and the chair of the S. I. Ward Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Over the past ten years, she has been teaching various engineering/technology courses spanning freshmen introductory courses to graduate-level courses. She has experience in teaching critical thinking skills and teaching with peer instruction strategies. She is always interested in emerging educational methods and technology. Her current research interests also include promoting diversity and inclusion in the academic environment.