In my time at Western Michigan University, I've been the Instructor of Record for ENGL 3300: British Literature I, ENGL 1100: Literary Interpretation, and ENGL 1050: Thought and Writing (Freshman Composition). As the Instructor of Record, I was responsible for all course design, text adoption, instruction, and assessment for ENGL 3300 and ENGL 1100; ENGL 1050 uses a department-mandated text and project structure, but instructors are responsible for the details of project design and all instruction and assessment. Faculty and peers have evaluated my teaching performance in these classes.
ENGL 3300: Dr. Jana Schulman, Director - Medieval Institute
"Rebecca Straple is a dynamic and innovative teacher. I visited her British Literature I survey course (ENGL 3300) to watch her teach in Fall 2016 and came away convinced that she knew the material, that she respected her students' ideas, and that she was open to different approaches to difficult texts. The students had read the Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf and came prepared to discuss it (that they were prepared is in itself impressive and a testimonial to something Becky must have done--not all students enjoy reading Beowulf, some find it very difficult, and still others don't even try to read the poem, believing that watching a movie version suffices).
The first thing that the students did was take a reading quiz using their smart phones or tablets. Incorporating technology in this way suggests to me an awareness of the students and their way of interacting with material. At the end of the class, there was an exit survey, also online, and one of the students allowed me to follow along as he did it. It took him less than five minutes, but would allow Becky to later see what he, and others, had learned. This struck me as a very easy way to get students more involved, and an exercise that I, too, could befit from doing.
I was impressed by Becky's rapport with her students, the way she incorporated the students' comments and questions into her lecture on Beowulf and the culture that produced the poem. She blended lecture, class discussion, and group activities very well, almost seamlessly. Becky is, already, quite clearly an experienced teacher."
ENGL 1100: Brett Geier,Assistant Professor - Department of Educational Leadership, Research and Technology "I observed Rebecca on Monday, March 20, 2017 while she instructed ENGL 1100 – Literary Interpretation. There were fifteen students in class this day.
In summary, Rebecca did an outstanding job instructing this class. First, it was quite apparent that she was very well prepared for class. She had a quality lesson plan designed that had multiple activities, which addressed multiple learning styles. Rebecca was in the room well before the students arrived and was able to set her classroom up without being rushed. Finishing set-up ten minutes prior to the start time allowed Rebecca to interact with the students on an individual basis – asking them about their weekend, etc. This personal attention truly enhances a caring classroom environment. When class began Rebecca immediately went over the agenda/lesson plan for the day, so the students knew what to expect. It was apparent that the class has been through extensive training regarding routines and expectations. Rebecca guided the class through quality review activities, which ensured previous material was reviewed. The next portion of class was a lecture on new material and concepts. This section led into a group activity where the students could apply the learning.
Rebecca has tremendous knowledge regarding her subject area and is very confident in teaching it. What I was notably impressed with was her ability to design a lesson plan that was formed around the theories of Bloom’s Taxonomy. She instructed the students from a lower-order thinking paradigm (knowledge/comprehension) to a higher-order thinking paradigm (analysis/evaluation). This structure has students in a great position to be able to create knowledge, which is a very high pedagogical concept. Rebecca creates a classroom environment that is very safe and students feel comfortable participating in her class.
Rebecca has the necessary knowledge, pedagogical skills, and personal characteristics to make a master teacher. I strongly encourage her to continue to practice the craft and seek professional development opportunities to continue adding skills to her repertoire. Rebecca is an outstanding education professional."
"Becky effectively guides students through discussions and activities that foster good writing and then asks students to focus on these techniques in revising their own writing.
She addresses several FYW learning outcomes: sentence construction, concision, detail, active & passive voice, revision and the writing process. She employs whole class discussion, whole class activity, lecture, small group work, and independent work; transitions well between each activity.
Becky metacognitively discusses with students how to improve their class discussion. She is cognizant of her plans and managing her time. Activities flow well from one to the next. Students are engaged. Becky appears to have a good rapport with her students."