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To: Whom It May Concern

From: Dr. Heather L.H. Jordan, Full-time Lecturer in General Studies Writing

Re: Observation and Evaluation of Dr. April Conway

Date: April 24, 2017

I had the opportunity to visit April Conways GSW 1120 course (Academic Writing) at 3:30pm on
Monday, April 24, 2017 in East Hall 117. The session focused on the expectations and requirements for
the final Self-Reflective Project.

Dr. Conway arrived a few minutes early to begin setting up the technological components she would
later use to create an environment designed for best student engagement in the prepared class plan.
She pulled up the Canvas course page, which would be referenced later to show students where to find
the digital copy of the Self-Reflection Project, but then also handed out hard copies to students who
preferred to use a physical copy. While doing this, she directed their attention to the due date, so that
students could fill that in, better cementing the deadline in their minds.

April engaged students in easy conversation as she was setting up the class technologies. As they filed
in, she greeted them by name and asked about their interests, showing genuine care and investment in
each individual student.

Dr. Conway promptly began the class session by explaining the goals for the class, and what activities
the students would engage in during this session. She then more closely reviewed the expectations for
the Self-Reflective Project by going through each point in detail, asking for student questions throughout
the process.

One of the key components of this assignment was for students to not only identify the learning
outcomes for the course and provide examples of how they met those, but also to show how they
improved on at least three habits of mind provided in the Framework for Success in Postsecondary
Writing as a result of this course and the work completed throughout. This shows a clear understanding
of the larger discipline goals and outcomes beyond just our own limited institutional framework. Dr.
Conway is clearly very knowledgeable of best practices in the fields of rhetoric and composition and is
adept at including these in her own classroom activities, to the betterment of the students taking her
course.

After making sure each student understood the main concepts included in the assignment, Dr. Conway
then assigned students to smaller groups for further activities where they would identify the
assignments and activities that have been done throughout the semester that speak to how each of
those met particular course learning outcomes and habits of mind. April deftly assigned students to
smaller groups to ensure that students would move around the room, which further engages the tactile
learners and breaks up the notetaking aspects of a large lecture format class session. And, by assigning
students to particular groups, Dr. Conway was able to ensure that students are engaging with peers who
may disagree or challenge their thinking, which gets them out of potential echo chambers and furthers
their learning by extension. The further reward to this approach is to encourage students to form
relationships with others in their class, which will be useful as they progress further in their university
careers.

It is important to mention here, too, that I learned during an after-class discussion with Dr. Conway
following my observation that she does recognizes the importance of allowing for student agency in the
classroom as well, and that the students were asked to get into pairs of their own choosing during the
previous class session. April encouraged students to choose a partner based on who they think they
work well with. Dr. Conway then used those pairings to form the small groups that were formed today,
showing the value of student choice and self-selection as well as adhering to a framework that promotes
critical thinking and diverse perspectives.

Throughout the session, the students were comfortable engaging in questions and conversations, not
only with Dr. Conway, but also with each other. This speaks to Aprils attention to fostering an inclusive,
safe space for student learning. Students were not afraid to speak up, even if they were challenged by
the feedback, which shows genuine care on the part of the instructor, to model appropriate behaviors
for such a learning environment where students need to feel free to make mistakes so that they may
better learn and grow.

As each smaller group reported to the class their examples and ways of thinking about the learning
outcomes and habits of mind, Dr. Conway asked for volunteers for responses (and often got volunteers),
but also called on students to share the group work when volunteers we slow to speak up. Though this is
a required writing course for all first-year students, each student remained on task during the entire
class session, even when most had their laptops out and open, and could easily be distracted. Rather,
they were taking notes and referring to their Canvas course shell and the syllabus and assignment sheets
included there. This indicates to me that the students respect the importance of class time and feedback
from Dr. Conway, and once again speaks highly to her care and attention to fostering and maintaining a
classroom environment of engagement and accountability.

Throughout the session, Dr. Conway walked around and engaged with the individual groups as they
were having their discussions. I overheard numerous words of praise and encouragement, including
Really great work so far and youre doing well, but what else might you include here. Clearly, Dr.
Conway has high expectations, but also rewards the students in her course when they are actively
meeting those expectations.

Dr. Conway wrapped up the session with final reminders, and encouraged students to stick around if
they had individual questions before releasing them for the day. Some people used the time provided to
ask questions, and I got another glimpse of Aprils abilities as she deftly responded on-the-spot to the
work presented, offering both congratulations for successful discussions and an encouraging some to do
revisions to improve even further. She is clearly a very knowledgeable and experienced instructor, who
has confidence in her teaching of writing. I feel privileged to have been a part of such an inclusive and
welcoming discussion, and certainly plan to implement similar tactics and methods in my own
pedagogical approaches. If you have any questions regarding this observation, or if you would like to
discuss this further, please feel free to contact me at hljorda@bgsu.edu or by cell at (330)734-8917.

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