As Kettering University Online’s (KUO) Program Development Manager and Senior Instructional Designer, I have the pleasure of working with our contributing faculty members, many of whom are subject matter experts for the courses they teach. Coming from a wide range of educational and career backgrounds, KUO faculty are united in the effort to link transformative experiential education to rigorous academic standards with real-world applications for learning that lasts a lifetime.
This time, I have the distinct pleasure of shining a spotlight on Dr. Alice Jarvis. Dr. Jarvis received her BS in Chemistry from the University of Virginia in 1975, her Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of California San Diego in 1982, and a Six Sigma Lean Master Black Belt from E.I. DuPont de Nemours Company in 1999.
I interviewed Dr. Jarvis recently and the following are excerpts from our conversation:
JL: Tell us a bit about your professional background:
AJ: I worked for the DuPont Company for 32 years in Medical Products Diagnostics, Agricultural Products, and in Nonwovens. In 1999, I became one of the first Master Black Belts in the company. DuPont required all salaried employees to earn at least a green belt, so I had a chance to teach Lean Six Sigma to thousands of people working in many disciplines, everyone from new hires to Vice Presidents. I wish the CEO, Ellen Kullman, had been in my class, but unfortunately, she was in the class of another Master Black Belt.
JL: How did you come to teach for KUO?
AJ: After I retired from DuPont, I did some consulting work, but I did not like life as a “road warrior”. I enjoyed doing work for charities and organizing community events, but frankly, I felt like my brain was getting mushy. I needed something much more intellectually challenging than a book club. In 2015, I received an email asking if I was interested in teaching for KUO. I thought it was some kind of mass mailing and deleted the email. Then, Dr. Wallace, the Vice President for Kettering Global, called to let me know that I had been recommended specifically to her for my teaching skills. I am not sure who recommended me, but I am very thankful to whoever did!
JL: What were your first thoughts about teaching online?
AJ: I had taught Six Sigma courses to DuPont employees in Asia, so I had some experience with distance learning, but those courses included my recording lessons with Power Points using voice-overs in an attempt to reproduce the live classroom experience across different time zones. I found this to be an inferior substitute.
JL: In brief, what is your teaching philosophy?
AJ: Teaching is not transmitting information from a teacher to a student. Teaching is leading an interactive process where groups of people work together to turn information from many sources into knowledge. I am a coach, not a judge. I encourage everyone to bring his or her knowledge into the classroom. Together, we make a much better teacher than any one person could be alone.
JL: What has your experience of teaching online been as compared with teaching in the traditional classroom?
AJ: I like that the students do not expect someone to spoon-feed them the most elementary parts of a subject in a 50-minute lecture. Since they have done some reading before our first interactions, we can move immediately to exploring the concepts in more depth.
JL: How would you describe your Kettering students?
AJ: Kettering students generally have science and engineering backgrounds, and many are working in full-time industrial jobs; this also describes my students at DuPont although many of the DuPonters were thereby assignment, not choice. At Kettering, 100% of our students are highly motivated and eager to learn.
JL: How do you think your work experience training and certifying green, black, and master black belts globally has influenced the way you teach your online students?
AJ: While teaching people from many backgrounds I learned the importance of presenting each concept in a variety of ways. For example, I learned how much more of an impact an example from Argentina would have in Brazil as compared to an example from the United States. I also learned to use examples from several organizational departments such as manufacturing, research & development, administrative work, quality assurance, and supply chain. Often, when people are first exposed to a new concept, they may not see how it is relevant to their situation. I have experience in showing the pathway to relevance for each individual.
JL: What do you see as being the top three characteristics or qualities that employers are looking for in their employees and how do you think a Kettering University Online education meets this need?
- Reputation for doing excellent work
- Job-related education
- Being a team player
The projects Kettering students do during and after the courses are going to bolster #1. Degrees are valuables you can never lose so the MS will always be an asset, and students get experience working in teams during the course. Even if they have not taken a team-project class yet, the knowledge they gain will help them bring something special to team efforts in their companies.
JL: You are an expert in lean - can lean principles and practices be implemented outside of work - say in the home?
AJ: Definitely! It is one of the reasons my kid’s sock drawer was in an antique desk near the front door and they had a set of toothbrushes in the kitchen, but please don’t inspect my basement; it is in desperate need of 5S which is sort, set in order, shine, standardize, and sustain!
JL: Share one fun fact about yourself or share some things you like to do when you are not teaching.
AJ: My c.1824 home in Delaware will be open for public tours on Saturday, May 16, 2020. I open it every other year to about a thousand people to raise money for charities. Search “A Day in Old New Castle” and drop me an email if you are coming. I’ll be one of the people in costume, I just haven’t decided if it will be my colonial one, my civil war era one, or the Victorian. We dress in period clothing for several festivals in my town, would you like to borrow a costume?
KUO honors and appreciates Dr. Alice Jarvis for her contributions and highly regarded work with students.
Interested in Teaching for Kettering University Online?
Interested in becoming a contributing faculty member or a subject matter expert with Kettering University Online? Send your curriculum vitae and a cover letter to Dr. Christine Wallace at firstname.lastname@example.org.