UMBC Mic'd Up

Advancing Teaching Techniques and Engineering Expertise

September 29, 2023 UMBC Mic'd Up with Dennise Season 3
Advancing Teaching Techniques and Engineering Expertise
UMBC Mic'd Up
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UMBC Mic'd Up
Advancing Teaching Techniques and Engineering Expertise
Sep 29, 2023 Season 3
UMBC Mic'd Up with Dennise

In this episode of the UMBC Mic'd Up Podcast, join us for a deep dive into the world of advanced teaching methods and engineering expertise. Our guest, Jonathan Jett-Parmer, P.M.C. ’22 College Teaching & Learning Science and M.S. ’23, Systems Engineering, a seasoned military professional, shares his experiences and insights from completing a Graduate Certificate in College Teaching and Learning Science, along with a Master of Science in Systems Engineering. 

Discover how the program prepared him for the dynamic challenges in his military career and to learn valuable lessons in instructional design, assessment strategies, and the importance of continuous learning. 

Tune in for an enriching conversation that sheds light on the intersection of education and industry excellence. 

#teachingmethods #EngineeringExpertise #ContinuousLearning #IndustryInsightsPodcast

Learn more about UMBC's Graduate Certificate program: College Teaching and Learning Science:

and UMBC's Systems Engineering Program:

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of the UMBC Mic'd Up Podcast, join us for a deep dive into the world of advanced teaching methods and engineering expertise. Our guest, Jonathan Jett-Parmer, P.M.C. ’22 College Teaching & Learning Science and M.S. ’23, Systems Engineering, a seasoned military professional, shares his experiences and insights from completing a Graduate Certificate in College Teaching and Learning Science, along with a Master of Science in Systems Engineering. 

Discover how the program prepared him for the dynamic challenges in his military career and to learn valuable lessons in instructional design, assessment strategies, and the importance of continuous learning. 

Tune in for an enriching conversation that sheds light on the intersection of education and industry excellence. 

#teachingmethods #EngineeringExpertise #ContinuousLearning #IndustryInsightsPodcast

Learn more about UMBC's Graduate Certificate program: College Teaching and Learning Science:

and UMBC's Systems Engineering Program:

Dennise Cardona  0:00  
Welcome to this episode of UMBC's Mic'd Up podcast. My name is Dennise Cardona from the Office of Professional Programs at UMBC. Today we are joined by Jonathan Jett-Parmer. He is a recent graduate of our graduate certificate in college teaching and learning science as well as Master of Science in systems engineering. I hope you enjoy this episode. Thanks so much for joining us today on the UMBC Mic'd Up podcast Jonathan, it's fantastic to have you here with us. 

Jonathan Jett-Parmer  0:33  
Thanks very much. I'm delighted to be here. 

Dennise Cardona  0:35  
So you just graduated with your certificate in the college teaching and learning science program? How are you feeling since graduating? 

Jonathan Jett-Parmer  0:44  
Well, I'm certainly glad to have a little more free time back. But that camaraderie that I experienced in the program was something that really moved me along and gave me I think, probably an incentive to go deeper than I would have expected. So it's that sort of a bit of feeling of loss. But at the same time, what now can I do? How far can I go with what I've taken on a UMBC? 

Dennise Cardona  1:06  
I totally agree with that feeling. I graduated as well, in May with a master's in the Learning and Performance Technology program. And I feel I felt a little lost after that. Because there's so much that goes into graduate work and working with your peers, working with the faculty working with your projects. It's fun, it's really rewarding. But it does take up a lot of time. Let's not kid ourselves. And so after all of that is done, you're like, I remember sitting back and going well, this is a new feeling for me, because my program took me three years. And I was like, wow, I actually have time to like cook without rushing and make some puzzles. Get away from technology a little bit. So it's nice. But it's a bittersweet feeling of yeah, something's, well, something's done now. And now it's time for something new. 

Jonathan Jett-Parmer  1:55  

Dennise Cardona  1:56  
So tell me what is what is new. Now, since you've graduated? What are you doing now. 

Jonathan Jett-Parmer  2:01  
So I'm still I'm still finishing up at the borders. I'm active military. So I'm working down in in Washington, DC. And I will carry on that to the end of '24. But I'm also engaging and preparing for that next career step. So we have multiple careers now, it's not one and done like maybe our parents had. So I'm looking forward to finding a place hopefully somewhere in an academic or professional academic setting, where I can leverage my experience and the skill set that I found really to be invaluable from the program offered at UMBC. 

Dennise Cardona  2:39  
Wow. So what service are you in with a military?

Jonathan Jett-Parmer  2:43  
 So I'm in the Navy. And interestingly, the Navy, like many other large organizations have really embraced this lifelong learning concept, the pace of technological change, the pace of dealing with personnel, the pace of just the world has so accelerated, that we really can't afford to stand still, in any capacity. I was starting to see that in my civilian job before I took a recall. And that's what prompted me to go back and refresh my skill set. I also found that I was doing much more mentoring and teaching. And I really felt a little ill equipped. What was the best methodology? There's lots of discussions, and I've certainly been through plenty of not good coursework. So I thought, how can I be a better mentor, teacher, instructor, guide, if you will, for folks who are working with me or for me?

Dennise Cardona  3:36  
That's a really good point. First of all, thank you for your service. My parents, my father and my brother are both Navy. My husband is Marine. Yeah, all Yeah. I love the military and all that you all do. So thank you so much for that service. And I'm sure that it's a balancing act, being still active military and being in graduate school. That's got to be a little bit of a balancing act and a little bit of a challenge, I'm assuming, how is that?

Jonathan Jett-Parmer  4:04  
It is, I think my experience of military service has been, there's a significant value for the educational process. It doesn't matter what rank you are folks who come in, and you may know this from talking to your family members, the outside world sees, oh, join military and get money for school. But what's not really well understood is while you're in the military, there is an expectation of continuing education development. Sometimes it's in a technical space, sometimes it's in a professional space. There are a number of actually military postgraduate schools, and I find that we have a pretty well-established culture of learning and in fact, you generally don't advance as as well if you haven't exhibited a desire to continue to self improve. It can be as simple as a reading list to very formal courses. I also pursued a graduate degree at the same time as my CTLS certificate in systems engineering that has benefited me in my role here at the Navy Yard, after so has this certificate. So it's, it is a is demanding. But there's a bit of understanding that we're going to give you a little leeway to do what you need to do. Don't overdo it. But the expectation is clear that you need to continue to work on yourself and make yourself a better service member and to deal with the constant changes that we're facing globally.

Dennise Cardona  5:27  
Great philosophy of lifelong learning. And it's really nice to hear that the military is embracing that as well, because we are pretty much when you think about it, the sum of our country of the quality of the education that's coming out of it is a direct result of those, the the input that we're putting into it. And so it's wonderful to hear, when organizations institutions embrace that lifelong learning, it's vital that as members of our society that we continue to raise the bar for ourselves and for others to go beyond what is comfortable sometimes, and seek those things that are going to help really make life better for everybody that we touch. So that's fantastic to hear. And one thing that I picked up on that you said earlier is one of the reasons why, it sounds like one of the motivations for you starting in the CTLS graduate program is that you want it to be able to improve the learning journey for other people based on some of maybe the experiences that you had in a classroom. Can you talk a little bit about that motivational factor? And I think that's really interesting. 

Jonathan Jett-Parmer  6:37  
Yeah, I think so I'm an engineer, originally by training, that's my undergraduate. And then I took on an MBA later, and then the systems engineering, graduate degree Master's. And I can recall as an undergraduate, a very one way process, especially in engineering, you are stuck with what you are stuck with. Students have very little agency. And I could see in my experience was there were periods where I struggled and felt like there really wasn't any avenue, I needed to engage with the instructor or the curriculum, or provide any sort of feedback. We didn't have college surveys at the time that we do now run instructors. And I recognize that's not just unique to higher education, it's professional education. And I've found myself being put in, hey, we want you to run this training, we want you to run this program, we'd like you to do this, we'd like we have a very new emerging bit of information. And whether it was my private job or my military role, you need to communicate this because you're the person, you're wearing the rank or you're in the position, you have to communicate. And I really felt, I'm not going to do any of these folks. Justice, I want them to take the information on board. I want them to be able to not just understand it, but apply it and also help us hone what we're providing. Because in areas, especially in science, technology, in organizational design, that information is changing so rapidly, that we can't possibly know it all. So I wanted to be I wanted to be an open instructor. I wanted to be one who was going to really engage with people who are responsible for training or teaching. And I also wanted to be able to take on feedback from them in a manner that was additive and constructive versus just stuff that I didn't really, okay, so I'm done with that class, I don't have to worry about that. No, it's a continuum of your professional life. So that's where my motivation came from. I don't want to be that instructor.

Dennise Cardona  8:37  
Right, we just get stuck in the routine of it, it won't work before is always going to work. I noticed that myself, I have delved into now instruction, facilitating developing courses. And I was just teaching last week. And one of the things that just struck me as I was standing in front of the classroom, as this constantly changes from year to year, I've been teaching with this organization for three years, every year is a different every group of students creates a different environment. And it's pulling from that information we learn in our graduate studies, and working with our peers and our instructors, and reading and just educating ourselves on what are some of the scientifically based ways that we can apply the art and science to delivering instruction that's going to be the most impactful for our students. So it's a really cool place to be when you open up your mind and you say yes, this isn't the way I can't keep doing things the way I always do them. I have to constantly be looking for this for the new for the next level for the next way to help bring this classroom to mastery, if you will. How did the program prepare you for what you're doing now? Any specific examples or just ways that people who are listening in or viewing this on YouTube who maybe this is their first time learning about the college teaching and learning science certificate program here at UMBC?

Jonathan Jett-Parmer  10:00  
so that maybe you can give some kind of idea of what worked for you in the program, I think I'll hit on the last word of the the name of stripping the science throughout the five course regimen that is really laid out for this certificate. To me, it each and every course there was foundational. And as an engineer, I really appreciated this foundational demonstrated proven scientific approaches to assessment, design, student engagement, how even curriculums are built, or you're going to develop, especially, there's quite a bit of discussion about online instruction. And there were good sound methodologies, I'm thinking back to my Quality Matters class that we took. And I was astounded at the level of detail and analysis that have been conducted. And as a recipient as a student, you think they're the PhD and they just end the reality is the best instructors, the best teachers, best professors have embraced this scientific approach when they're going back and evaluating their assessments and saying, Yeah, this question is not working. And I'm obviously missing some connection here for my staff are my students, and then what engagement techniques are we going to use based on the material and the outcomes desired for the course. And that, to me was unexpected. And it's something that I really embrace, because now I can have some conversations as we develop materials, hey, is this delivering the objective we want? Or are we just as you said, doing what we always did, I found that to be extremely unexpected, but also very exciting, because I was able to go through the quality matter matters process. And I go back to that, because there were certified assessors who go back and look at courses. And it's no small task and no small amount of work to meet those high standards. And that was very impressive. And when I saw courses that had met those standards, and saw them in action, it was clear that they were having a much better effect on the students and much better effect on the outcomes. 

Dennise Cardona  12:10  
So you saw those in real life action, which is yeah, that's the coolest thing is that you see it applied. So anything applied in real life is something that sticks I think, emotionally to us as well. And it makes us have that moment, that light bulb moment that says, Hmm, okay, this is how it's supposed to work. And having that structure full. That's so key, isn't it. So now, there's never any guesswork when it comes to, there's a system in place. And whenever you have a system, you can at least go back to those foundations to be able to build upon those foundations, and maybe experiment a little bit as you move forward that comfort zone beyond the comfort zone, we talked about being able to take what the basics are building upon that structure, using it as a framework and being able to experiment and grow your courses from there and the experiences that you're going to give your students.

Jonathan Jett-Parmer  13:00  
That's so critical, because those students have come in at whatever level. And there's an enormous amount of trust that's being placed in the instructor. And if you can come to them and say, Look, we're going to start from a basis of a known Foundation, or an establish practicum, where we're established design, and then the variations we'll work through together. It may be your own experience, maybe your background, and maybe how you're digesting this material. But at least we don't have to worry about the structure, we can then begin to deal with those differences, and they don't become overwhelming. And that for me, I think is a tremendous tool that that an instructor can use and a confidence level that students can have when they come into these courses and that sort of attention to their design. 

Dennise Cardona  13:44  
Now in the classroom itself that you took five courses in this certificate program, what was the collaboration like within with your peers, and maybe even your instructors? What was that like?

Jonathan Jett-Parmer  13:55  
It was very close. It's a small group, there were some courses where we'd have just a few students involved. What I found most exciting was that those students range from close like myself, and kind of this just called mid career. We had graduate students who were very fresh, and who were also actively involved as teaching assistants. So they were really inside inside the space, working with students applying these things in real time. So we could get some very good almost laboratory like feedback as we talked about process. And then there were other folks who were really postdoc type individuals who were building on a couple of attorneys, and they were building on their skill sets. They could go and teach extremely high level, graduate law type courses. And that experience enabled me to have some confidence that look, post career there are there, there's lots to do and you've got lots to offer. So here's how you set yourself up. So this continuum of professional experience was what I really valued and then each of the instructors had a very real world, sort of research passion. And whether that was an assessment design, or whether that was in student learning styles, we could really dig in into those courses around those particular topics, and how they were relevant to the whichever subject we were at whether it was in one of the assessment courses, or whether it was in the Student Engagement course. So I found that to be a really beautiful compliment. And I know that I think some of the best feedback I got was from a TA, who is in the computational instruction section, graduate student, who really helped me understand that connection with the students who have such a high amount of demand for you better be on the cutting edge of, better be the cutting edge. How do you deal with that when it's impossible, almost for destructive to say that far ahead, considering the wealth of information out there, so a great environment and very close collaboration. 

Dennise Cardona  15:55  
And to me, that sounds like it's set up the perfect setup for any classroom is, it's the quality of the interaction and the discussion amongst peers and learners, learning from each other. Because sometimes, as instructors, we don't have all of the answers, we don't have all of the knowledge that the students themselves have. And being able to cultivate that environment sounds like, which was the case here, of being able to collaborate and learn from each other from the different levels of students, that really does create a really rich learning environment? 

Jonathan Jett-Parmer  16:29  
I do I don't, I don't regret that I'm done. But I almost wish that we'd had a few more courses because you start to really build up some momentum. And I think Dr. O'Brien, in her connection with the students was quite clear about maintaining that engagement and connection. So I felt that and I guess I do miss it a little bit as it's wound down and people have moved on. I got an email once in awhile from my former student, colleagues, and just commiserating how's it going? What's happening? So that's reinforcing.

Dennise Cardona  17:01  
Absolutely, sometimes just the network afterwards is the is one of the big highlights of a graduate degree is being able to have those people that you can have touch points with, when maybe something is confusing, or you need some feedback on an idea that you have. That really is a great benefit of a graduate program, especially at UMBC. They cultivate that environment. That's what that's what I felt from my graduate program anyway, is that networking is really big. 

Jonathan Jett-Parmer  17:30  
It is it is I've got my retriever pride all behind me, I've got my favorite backdrop here. I've been to a number of universities for various programs, but it really felt that at UMBC. 

Dennise Cardona  17:43  
That's great to hear. What was your biggest takeaway from studying at UMBC?

Jonathan Jett-Parmer  17:52  
I would say my, there were two big takeaways. One was actually the level and caliber of work that's going on in this space. This was an area, I was familiar with some of the technical pieces of UMBC, and their engineering school and their computer science school. But I really didn't understand what what the faculty had been engaged in on this in this learning space. And I see I saw it permeated throughout, I had a chance to act as a under instruction instructor in the engineering group. And even the faculty in the engineering department had all really well embraced these approaches. So I felt like there was a good collaboration both across the departments, as well as a real some of the research that we talked about, were the cutting edge names that were first person, colleagues and collaborators with the instructors. So that gave you a sense of gosh, we really are in the space where history is being made, or the next generation of learning sciences being developed. That was very exciting to me. And I didn't really think about it in a way of that you might think about chemistry or biology, but in reality that that's the sort of work that's going on. So that was a huge takeaway one, which was a little humbling, because it's the workload that these faculty are under enormous.

Dennise Cardona  19:13  
Absolutely. Now, you said there were two takeaways. 

Jonathan Jett-Parmer  19:15  
The second takeaway was, everything's great, until you have to put it into practice. So in the final courses, you're involved in a practicum, where you're actually working in a classroom setting, you're giving some instructional materials you're executing as you would in a higher education setting. And I had the chance to do I did double course I did one which was senior engineers, and their senior design course, which is the enemy portfolio. And then I also did one on one, which is a huge, I think there are 185 students in the class. It's in the it's in the engineering lecture hall. And of course, it's a tremendously rate lecture hall and you're down there in the center, and the students are in zeroing in on you, and you've got your curriculum and you've got your material to teach. But you realize that yet you've got this tremendous plan and you want to go exactly according. And inevitably, it derails, you need to take care of a question. I have one, it's one experience where I think I made a terrible math error. And young students, she calls out today that you're wrong, not just hey, by the way, but you're wrong. And your first reaction is. And then I thought, oh, my gosh, I am. So I had a chance to talk about highlighting of thanking the student, but at the same time highlighting, hey, look, we'll try and do a lot in a short amount of time, let's collaborate with each other, but to get to the right outcome. So it was the takeaway was humility is probably the first thing you're going to need to learn it into these courses. 

Dennise Cardona  20:48  
Oh, I love that. You just said that. I really do. Because I learned that lesson last week when I was teaching. So I teach at the it's a train the trainer program at the International masonry Institute. These guys are master masons, they know that, they know what they're doing. I'm not teaching masonry skills, I'm just teaching them how to train other journeymen and apprentices and such. I had that humility as well, this week. So somebody called me out on the materials that I was using as far as the presentation. They didn't like, some of it was a little, maybe crowded, too many bullet points on one page or whatnot. And at first, I was like, inside, I'm like, Oh, my God, am I turning red? Am I getting embarrassed. And I was like, You know what, let's use this as a really great teaching opportunity here. As instructors, you're all instructors, let's use this, when people are going to give you feedback, and we just put a positive spin to, you have to be open to getting feedback and be having humility enough to accept, you don't have to agree. But you have to accept that feedback, because it's the most important thing in a classroom is that students feel they have a voice, and that their opinion matters and their thoughts and their knowledge base matters. And as instructors, one of the things that came out of that conversation was, they love that they don't have to feel like they have to know everything. And that being having that humility, and standing up there and accepting feedback actually puts students at ease. And so having that spirit of feedback within a classroom, that was a big light bulb that went off for me last week, it was a great experience for everybody involved.

Jonathan Jett-Parmer  22:28  
Oh, that's fantastic, what a great, what a great moment. And to really to flip that like that, so that we're all gaining something from it. That's a sign of a deft instructor. So that must have been really, at the end of that. You should feel quite excited about that. Because that's a tremendous connection to make with your students. 

Dennise Cardona  22:47  
Yeah, I felt good. And it felt I felt like it really resonated with the with my fellow learners, because we're all learners. And that's what it taught me is that we're all on a learning journey. None of us have all the answers. But together, we can figure out some really great solutions.

Jonathan Jett-Parmer  23:02  
That's from it, I saw that demonstrated across the faculty spectrum. And obviously, these are very seasoned instructors between the doctoral version, Dr. Cardenas in the engineering department, there is they were willing to let me go into their classes and mess around but you could. I got some very good feedback from each of them. And the best one I got from Dr. Berger, I put my first deck together says, This is a beautiful deck. You're not going to get past the first quarter of it. I said no, of course he was absolutely right. But it's tremendous to have that sort of guidance and mentorship and make yourself better as not just an instructor. 

Dennise Cardona  23:39  
I agree. Absolutely. One quick question. Did you get your systems engineering graduate degree here at UMBC? or elsewhere? 

Jonathan Jett-Parmer  23:49  
No, I did. I did my MS in systems engineering there and a small, with three in the class have graduated this past May. And again, they were all other professionals required to up their game a little bit. I did my best for Dr. O'Brien. I tried to recruit them into the CTLS program. One was intrigued. And so I'm going to go back to him and say you need to come back and give that thought because sooner or later, we're all going to be asked to give forth on what we know and try to help that next class, if you will, the next cadre of folks coming in behind us because we do have a limited time. 

Dennise Cardona  24:23  
Absolutely. And maybe he'll listen to this podcast and be inspired to say, Hey, I do have to go and take this. 

Jonathan Jett-Parmer  24:29  
I'm going to let him know that it's time to tune in.

Dennise Cardona  24:33  
Tune in and find out. Jonathan, this has been a really great conversation. I've enjoyed it. I've learned a lot and I just I love talking learning. So thank you for allowing me to interpret what you're saying. And we I just had a great conversation with you and I'm really grateful. 

Jonathan Jett-Parmer  24:49  
Thanks, pleasure to talk to you.

Dennise Cardona  24:52  
Thanks for listening to this episode of UMBC Mic'd Up podcast. I hope you enjoyed it. If you'd like to learn more about our offerings, do a A quick search for UMBC college teaching and learning science graduate certificate program and also Master of Science in systems engineering at UMBC or simply click the link in the description.