UMBC Mic'd Up

Exploring Effective Strategies in College Teaching

January 19, 2024 UMBC Mic'd Up with Dennise Season 4
Exploring Effective Strategies in College Teaching
UMBC Mic'd Up
More Info
UMBC Mic'd Up
Exploring Effective Strategies in College Teaching
Jan 19, 2024 Season 4
UMBC Mic'd Up with Dennise

Welcome to our latest podcast episode, where we delve into the world of college teaching and learning science. Join us as Jenny McFadden, Ed.D., P.M.C. ’23, College Teaching and Learning Science, shares her journey and insights. Discover how this program has influenced her teaching methods, the positive impact on her role, and the valuable strategies she gained. Whether you're a prospective graduate student or an educator seeking professional development, this conversation offers valuable perspectives. Tune in to gain a deeper understanding of student-centered learning and effective teaching approaches. 

Don't miss out—hit play now!

Learn more about UMBC’s Post-Masters Certificate program in College Teaching & Learning Science:

Show Notes Transcript

Welcome to our latest podcast episode, where we delve into the world of college teaching and learning science. Join us as Jenny McFadden, Ed.D., P.M.C. ’23, College Teaching and Learning Science, shares her journey and insights. Discover how this program has influenced her teaching methods, the positive impact on her role, and the valuable strategies she gained. Whether you're a prospective graduate student or an educator seeking professional development, this conversation offers valuable perspectives. Tune in to gain a deeper understanding of student-centered learning and effective teaching approaches. 

Don't miss out—hit play now!

Learn more about UMBC’s Post-Masters Certificate program in College Teaching & Learning Science:

Dennise Cardona  0:00  
Hi, everyone. Welcome to the UMBC Mic'd Up podcast. My name is Dennise Cardona from the Office of Professional Programs here at UMBC. And I am here with our guest, Jenny McFadden, a graduate in the UMBC college teaching and learning science postmasters certificate program. Jenny, it's great to have you here on the show. Thanks so much for joining us.

Jenny McFadden  0:20  
Thank you for having me. 

Dennise Cardona  0:22  
Yeah. So, what motivated you to pursue the college teaching and learning science graduate postmasters certificate? And how does it align with what you're doing professionally at this point?

Jenny McFadden  0:36  
So I was motivated to pursue my postmasters certificate because I was and still am, seeking promotion through the ranks with my employer. I am now an associate professor at a community college in Maryland. And I had already earned a doctoral degree pretty soon after my hiring. And, I'm not sure if it's super common, but my guess is it probably is that many community colleges hire at the instructor level. And then they still want to see that you are pursuing professional development and trying to grow as an educator. So I was looking for an opportunity to do that. And it was a little bit challenging, because as I mentioned, I'd already finished my terminal degree. So this was actually a really great opportunity for me to fulfill those required professional development hours as I advanced, first to, from assistant professor to associate professor and now as I'm seeking to become a full professor. 

Dennise Cardona  1:33  
Oh, that's fantastic. What a great career honestly, from somebody who just graduated with her master's in learning and performance technology. I'm very interested in that whole facilitation instructor career paths, and that's yeah, it's just really, what a great career to be able to be in to be able to help develop future leaders and just, God just it's it's such a great thing to be able to do to be able to really encourage that learning experience in students. What is it that you are teaching right now?

Jenny McFadden  2:05  
So I teach developmental English. And for listeners who might not be familiar with developmental coursework, or developmental education, I work with our most underprepared learners. So community colleges open access. So we'll take anybody if you have a high school diploma, but a lot of our students need a little bit of assistance, developing the skills that they're going to need to be successful in credit level English classes. And that's where I come in.

Dennise Cardona  2:30  
Ah, I see yes. Now can you share specific examples of how the program here at UMBC has influenced your teaching methods or approaches, and any positive impact that you've observed so far in your role after this?

Jenny McFadden  2:46  
Sure. So the program has a component that is aligned with what is known as quality matters. Quality Matters, QM standards are something that exists to make online learning easier for students. And as part of the CTLS program, there is a QM boot camp. And that really did give me a lot of knowledge that was going to be expected of me anyway at our college because our college is in the process of aligning all of our online and hybrid courses with those QM standards, knocking that out and being a little ahead of the curve through UMBC. This program was really helpful. I've also been able to reflect on and revise some of my assessments in my courses that I teach and to analyze how that course content aligns with my objectives and learning outcomes for the course that I coordinate, which just means that I have one course. But it's my baby, that I'm in charge of seeing how all of the other instructors deliver that content as well. So I think some of the changes that I've made in my teaching, and in my course design as a result of those considerations has absolutely made my teaching more student centered, and probably more effective for our learners. And

Dennise Cardona  3:54  
that's the name of the game, the end result is being able to bring those learners to mastery over the topic. So yeah, that's great. So how do you envision the knowledge and skills gained from this program contributing to your current role? And how has it influenced your perspective on teaching overall, in general in your field?

Jenny McFadden  4:16  
So I think throughout my time in the CTLS program, and being a CTLS graduate, I think I was able to adopt more student centered teaching practices, which have made me a better educator. And I do think that I've always been an educator who values teaching as a craft and an art. A lot of my colleagues at my community college and I would assume at many higher education institutions, both locally and nationwide. A lot of those educators enter with more of a content expertise or content focus, but I do have some pedagogy background too. And even with that pedagogy background, I think I've learned a lot more and become even more thoughtful when it comes to examining courses as a whole and ensuring that all the elements of teaching are working together to maximize learning for My students, but I could really see this program being even more valuable for my colleagues who maybe don't necessarily have the teaching science. They're more of an expert in whatever their field is. And I did see as I was going through the CTLS program, that a lot of my peers in the program were more in that boat. So I think the program has something for anyone, like I mentioned, I do have a lot of the pedagogy, I spent some time in K through 12 classrooms as well. So I do have a lot of that background that maybe gives me a bit of a teaching advantage that some of my peers in higher ed don't have. But I had a lot to learn. And it seemed like it would be especially useful for colleagues who are trying to carve out a pathway in their in their journey in higher ed that maybe have a lot less teaching background. 

Dennise Cardona  5:45  
Yeah, and that learning science is so important to be able to use learning theories, adult learning theories, and to be able to craft lesson plans, development work to be able to create these courses that are going to bring those learners to mastery. Yeah, do you find that there was a lot of hands on type of activity that you did within the CTLS T program that helped hone in on those teaching skills? 

Jenny McFadden  6:11  
Yeah, so for one of our CTLS courses, I can't remember which one, it's a blur since I've graduated. But I do know that one of them had case studies, which was really cool. And it was also like we were, it was also, it wasn't just telling us what to do. The teachers were really good at doing what to do to make the classroom work, because we were learning collaboratively with each other. Even in the online teaching environment and learning environment, we were able to partner up through the miracles of technology, because I'm on the Eastern Shore. So I've set foot on it UMBC is campus once, but it was fourth CTLS it was for my daughter's cheerleading competition. But I was still able to connect with my peers. So we use the I guess it's the web WebEx platform. So we used WebEx to connect with a couple of my peers in one of my classes. And we were analyzing case studies together, which was really cool. And something that I think is really effective for learners at all levels in higher education, to really just dive into a scenario and think about so how does what we've learned, like, how can we actually apply that learning here? So it wasn't them just telling us this is what you should do in your classroom. They were also doing it in their classrooms, which I think is really helpful. 

Dennise Cardona  7:22  
I completely agree. Absolutely. And what you've said about the flexibility of an online environment is to me, I think, to most working professionals, it's really critical because it's really hard to balance working full time with going to school. And having that online component, whether it be hybrid or online completely. It's, I think it's a game changer for many people. And I think post COVID That's what we saw, we saw that a lot of programs started to incorporate that blended learning environment where it does make it more accessible. Now, are there particular challenges or opportunities that you've encountered during the program, and how have these experiences shaped your growth as an educator?

Jenny McFadden  8:08  
I think going back to the flexibility that the online CTLS program affords that was really necessary for me both geographically and because of my busy schedule. And when I'm thinking about challenges being a student, again, from planted B, of all of the challenges my students face. So I think anytime we as teachers are also navigating some obstacles just as our students have to do, that offers us the opportunity to be more empathetic with the experiences our learners are encountering. So I teach at an institution where many of my learners are non traditional in terms of age, in terms of the hours they're working per week, most of our students are part time, and they're working 40 hour work weeks, they often are parents or have other family responsibilities. So I know when I was meeting deadlines, and trying to make sure I was participating in a meaningful way in my CTLS classes, while also working full time at my teaching job, and caring for my children and trying to be a supportive spouse. That was a really good reminder that everything I was juggling was like a mirror for the challenges that many of my students face. And because I do work with students who are just beginning their journey into higher education, I guess you could argue that's a really different level. But I was still seeing in my daily work that many of my learners, they also have limited experiences with technology, and they're approaching their coursework with very little confidence or previous success. So I know for me when I'm thinking about how difficult it was at times for me to manage my schedule or for me to negotiate the technology and the UMBC instructors are wonderful and the courses are set up with ease. But I'm just thinking about there were times where Yeah, it was a struggle to make sure I was meeting deadlines, participating in a meaningful way and still keeping all Have the other balls in the air that you're juggling. So that was a great reminder for me to think about how my students are doing the exact same thing. And even more, because many of them are facing similar challenges, and also not really knowing how to navigate higher ed in general. So it was definitely a powerful incentive for me to make sure that everything I do on my end is going to maximize my students opportunities for success, because it's not easy balancing at all.

Dennise Cardona  10:25  
No, it's really not. It's, it can be quite challenging. And I think that having instructors like yourself, understanding that there are other things that people are balancing in life, and that it's, I think it's encouraging and comforting as a student, to know that your instructor gets it and understands that. So yeah, kudos to you and great for your students. Because that is, I think, a really big gift to be able to have that empathetic view, putting yourself in the seat of your students understanding what they are going through. I think that makes you a better teacher. 

Jenny McFadden  11:02  
I hope so. 

Dennise Cardona  11:03  
Now, in your opinion, what sets the UMBC CTLS program apart in terms of preparing educators for success, and how has it met your expectations now that you've graduated?

Jenny McFadden  11:15  
I really did love the flexible format of the CTLS program at UMBC. Being fully online allowed me to learn about being more effective in my teaching in a timeframe that worked for me, both enable it both in terms of being able to fulfill the requirements of the program and graduate and I was also able to slow the program down a little Dr. O'Brien worked with me on that because I wanted to earn a certain amount of credits in one fiscal year and a certain amount of credits and another fiscal year, so that my employer would pick up the bill for me, and so they would count for two different promotions. So I was a little sneaky about that. But that was helpful. But also just the flexible format for anyone I love that students who do the program the way it's supposed to can finish so quickly. I love that I was able to just, you know, actually talk to a person I've seen Dr. O'Brien is face even though it's online and just say, Hey, this is what I really need for this program to work for my life. And they were completely okay with that, that I was able to modify the timeframe for a way that worked for me. And the faculty are really experienced and supportive too. 

Dennise Cardona  12:20  
Yeah, that's all important points. Absolutely. Having a face a person instead of a computer or a recorded message. It's really nice to be able to have that communication with a real person. Yeah, I agree. UMBC is great for that. Could you discuss any specific strategies or techniques that you've learned in the program that you found particularly effective in enhancing the learning experience for your students? 

Jenny McFadden  12:48  
Sure, I think the assessment strategies I learned from Dr. Jennifer and Harrison in UMBC's CTLS program were really useful. I did come into the program with a lot of teaching knowledge already. But with Dr. Harrison's help, I was able to really examine how I was having students demonstrate their growing knowledge of grammar in one of our developmental writing courses. And I think English teachers have been wrestling with how to best teach and assess grammar from the beginning of time probably. And I do think I was able to create more authentic assessments that were much more aligned with what I actually wanted students to learn and be able to do moving forward from that course. So I'm really thankful for that. And I think the assessment course I took with Dr. Harrison, as well as the other courses I completed during the CTLS program would probably be even more helpful, as I'd mentioned, for a lot of my colleagues who might have more content expertise, but less knowledge of teaching strategies and techniques. And that's probably true for folks who are teaching or want to teach at both community colleges like I do, as well as other higher ed contexts.

Dennise Cardona  13:49  
That assessment is so crucial in the learning experience of students and being able to put together proper assessments to indeed know if the, if the student has mastered that topic is so important and having that performance agreement that's in place. Yeah, that's I would see that's a really valuable piece for educators to be able to understand that aspect. 

Jenny McFadden  14:12  
Yeah, absolutely. I feel like, I'm probably I don't know if I'm in the minority with that or not. But I feel like I love the teaching, and I love giving feedback. And then sometimes when it comes to assessment, it just feels Oh, now it's time for the test. But I think the way that Dr. Harrison taught us to look at assessment was just really helpful.

Dennise Cardona  14:30  
Excellent. What do you consider to be the most valuable takeaway from the program? And how do you plan to apply that and your continued development as an educator?

Jenny McFadden  14:41  
I think the greatest takeaway from UMBC CTLS program is that the focus on student centered learning really resonates with me, because as a professor, that's something I'm always striving to do when it comes to teaching, assessment, and decision making related to course design. So I'm thankful for my time in the program because it's helped me learn more about differentiating instruction, authentic assessment and catering to a diverse student population. So this is knowledge that I will continue to apply throughout my career as I work with underprepared learners at a community college, and it's something I'm really grateful for. 

Dennise Cardona  15:25  
Oh, that's perfect words, and I can't think of him more perfect way to end this podcast episode. You've really shed some great insights and light on the CTLS program here at UMBC. It sounds like that just it's been a great opportunity for you and to be able to develop professionally continue to develop and to be able to apply that in your real world role.

Jenny McFadden  15:49  
It's been awesome and and I'm really, I'm really thankful I found the program and I appreciate all the connections I made with my professors and colleagues during my time there. 

Dennise Cardona  16:00  
Great. Thank you everyone, for being here with us for this episode. I hope you enjoyed it. If you'd like to learn more about our offerings, do a search for UMBC college teaching and learning science graduate program, or simply click the link in the description.