My teaching career spans over twenty years in a range of disciplines, including mechanical engineering, computer science and software engineering. More recently, I've been teaching in a transdisciplinary nexus that brings together engineering, science and art.

Pedagogical Stance

Throughout my career I have been committed to providing quality learning experiences for students both through my own teaching practice but also by supporting my colleagues in their development as educators through a process of reflecting on and sharing my own experiences from multiple disciplines and institutions.

I am strongly committed to advancing interdisciplinary exploration, innovation and learning. Core to my current approach to teaching is to break the cycle of educators re-creating students in their own image and I actively seek to empower students to think creatively whilst still maintaining connectivity with reality. One of the core principles of my pedagogical stance in relation to teaching is the rejection of the traditional “transmissive” model in favour of the “constructionist” view that sees learning as an active construction of knowledge and competence on the part of the learner. Throughout my time as an educator, I have consistently worked with all variety of students to facilitate them reaching their full potential and achieved this by continuously reflecting on past experiences to improve current practice. The quality of my teaching has been recognised with nominations and awards. In 2009 I was a finalist for the AuSM “Awesome” Awards, in 2010 I was highly commended in the AUT Vice Chancellors Teaching Excellence Awards, and in 2014 I was acknowledged in a promotion application to have achieved sustained outstanding competence in teaching.

My current practice as an educator stems from a change in perspective that occurred in 2005 when I qualified as an open water scuba instructor. My approach now embraces the principle that all students are different and all students have the potential to construct knowledge from their own experiences. Submerging oneself underwater and enrolling in a University degree have one thing in common: they extend students outside of their comfort zone and as such students need a guide and a mentor as much as a teacher. The process of qualifying as an instructor presented an opportunity to reconsider the nature of teaching. As a result of this, my teaching is now entirely student-centric which differs from my early experiences of teaching where I very much viewed my role as one of informing students what they needed to know. The goal of my current teaching approach is to help students define their own learning objective and also find their own identity and voice in order to embrace their new environment.

Course Development Contributions

ENME606 Mechatronics Design (S2 2017, S2 2018): I delivered this courses using an active learning approach that differed from most other engineering courses. Students engaged with a practical project related to designing for the disabled and grasped an understanding of mechatronics from the perspective of design, by considering the design of mechatronic systems through a combination of design thinking, prototyping and end-user engagment.

CTEC.600 Transdisciplinary Inquiry (S1 2014, S1 2016, S1 2017, S1 2018): In line with the experimental nature of the Bachelor of Creative Technologies, I introduced an innovative undergraduate research methods paper to provide students with a theoretical and conceptual framework which has proven to be a great success. Student feedback was very posititive and it has been observed that students who have completed this paper produced work to a higher standard than those who have not, in particularly in terms of the degree of critical analysis embedded in the project.

CTEC.706 Research Practicum I (S1 2014): The Research Practicum papers (I & II) are another curriculum innovation in the Bachelor of Creative Technologies and intended to provide a research apprenticeship model for undergraduates to work with research active staff. Two students undertook Research Practicum I under my supervision in S1 2014. The first conducted an investigation into the development of multi-actuator haptic devices, which as led to the co-authoring of two academic papers to date. The second students conducted a hermeneutical study related to practice-based visual arts.

CTEC.500 Integrative Practice (S2 2014): I designed this new first year paper as the culmination of the first year experience, essentially a capstone project for the first year. The paper draws together threads of knowledge gained throughout the year from a disciplinary perspective to help student define their owntransdisciplinary practice. This paper typifies my approach in designing inquiry-led learning experiences in a way that blends traditional teaching methods with constructivist pedagogies.

175003 Programming for Creativity (S1 2012, S2 2012): This paper had been plagued with low pass rates and had been subject to considerable criticism from students regarding the style of delivery and content. Using my expertise in both computer science and blended learning, I redesigned the course content and delivery. This resulted in greater student satisfaction, increased competence in programming and higher pass rates. The redesigned course is still being delivered by other staff.

406702 Data & Process Modelling (S1 2011, S2 2011, S1 2010, S2 2010): This paper had been subject to considerable criticism from students regarding the style of delivery and content. I revised and updated the curriculum using my research and commercial experience in requirements engineering and lessons learned from teaching similar material at a postgraduate level. I introduced a number of innovations in terms of delivery, including taking the class out of a computer room to emphasise the importance of sketching for speed and convenience of communication. The introduction of contemporary approaches was applauded by colleagues and student satisfaction increased. I was nominated by students for the 2010 VC Teaching Excellence Awards for the delivery of this paper.

409288 Search Based Software Engineering (S1 2011, S2 2010): At the time of the first delivery, this was one of only two courses worldwide that explicitly dealt with this emerging research field. It was included in the Master of Computer & Information Sciences degree to provide more technical options for students. For the two times it was offered it attracted high enrolments and received good reviews. The delivery of the paper was successful in attracting two postgraduate thesis students who wished to work in this area.

409220 Software Requirements Engineering (S2 2010, S2 2009, S2 2008, S2 2007): From humble beginnings, this paper became the most popular paper in the Master of Computer & Information Sciences degree. This popularity was driven by the innovative and contemporary content in conjunction with the quality of the delivery. In 2010 the paper attracted a cohort of 54 students, which can be compared to the enrolment of 98 students in the only core paper in the degree. This paper was acknowledged for achieving 100% student satisfaction in the 2007 Programmes Annual Survey and consistently received good feedback in Student Evaluation of Papers.

Teaching Innovations

Many of my teaching innovations are associated with curriculum design, and I'm particularly focused on providing undergraduate students the opportunity to contribute to ongoing research projects as part of their course of study.

Student Testimonials

"Andy is a great lecturer as he is always well prepared and delivers lectures with clarity and enthusiasm in every class. Combined with good feedback and a genuine concern for the progress and education for his students this makes his classes something to look forward to." (SW, Bachelor of Computer & Information Sciences 2011)

"Andy has a big heart for his students. He has given a substantial amount of time to guide and develop my learning in and out of class. Discussing anything with him is always a joy. He really pushes his students to explore and discover new ways of thinking. He is very knowledgeable in many areas and his passion shines through when he teaches. He is flexible and always open minded to what we have to say. He is a model teacher and I wish we had more teachers like him. (MH, Bachelor of Creative Technologies 2014)

"I have always enjoyed Andy's lectures as the content is well prepared, well informed and delivered in a way that I can genuinely relate to. As a tutor, Andy has always felt like 'one of us', approachable, always willing to contribute to discussions and give advice. (DB, Bachelor of Creative Technologies 2014)

"Andy is one of those lecturers who goes the extra mile for his students. As a lecturer he would take the time to find out about his students learning goals and tailor the content of his paper to best fit with their interests and goals for the future. As a Programme Leader, I was incredibly grateful for his support while trying to tailor my course to fit my specific learning goals. When I wanted to enrol in external elective papers, it was Andy that supported my requests and did all he could to help me get in to the papers I wanted. I honestly believe without his support I would not have been able to get to where I am today." (JF, Master of Creative Technologies 2015)

Teaching Evaluations

For the last ten years I have utilised standard AUT mechanisms for undertaking student evaluations. The first of these mechanisms is the student evaluation of teaching questionnaire and a summary of the collected data is shown below.

I also regular proctor insitutional surveys of the courses I teach. A summary of this data also provides an overview of the quality of learning experience I can provide.

“The best teachers are those who show you where to look, but don't tell you what to see.”
Alexandra K.Trenfor