Lecturer recognised for teaching excellence

10 December 2014

Placing students at the centre of their learning and providing them with a framework in which to develop, integrate and synthesise their knowledge is at the heart of my teaching approach

Systems engineering lecturer Chris Browne has been recognised as one of Australia’s top university teachers.

Mr Browne has won an Award for Teaching Excellence (Early Career) as part of the Australian government’s 2014 Australian Awards for University Teaching.

Mr Browne, from the Research School of Engineering, is completing a PhD on enhancing engineering education by designing effective hands-on learning activities.

He centres his classes on the innovative jigsaw classroom approach that places students at the centre of learning.

“Placing students at the centre of their learning and providing them with a framework in which to develop, integrate and synthesise their knowledge is at the heart of my teaching approach,” Mr Browne said.

“Group work is notorious for being dominated by group dynamics, and my approach provides a template for group work and encourages students to be in charge of not only their own learning, but the learning of others in their group throughout the semester.

“For an early career academic, being able to try different things and getting some success out of it is rewarding.

“We’re not teaching students what to think but teaching them how to think about problems and ways of finding possible solutions.” 

The award includes a $25,000 prize, which he plans to use to further his research on effective teaching methods for developing creative and capable student engineers.

Mr Browne was presented the award by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Education Senator Scott Ryan at Parliament House.