Beyond-the-classroom experience crucial

Student learning outcomes have driven Australia's best university teacher, Associate Professor Halim Rane, to innovate.
Student learning outcomes have driven Australia's best university teacher, Associate Professor Halim Rane, to innovate.

The 2015 University Teacher of the Year has highlighted the role of students in the success.

Associate Professor Halim Rane, an Islamic Studies teacher at Griffith’s School of Humanities, described the news as an “incredible honour and completely unexpected”.

On Tuesday night he became the second Griffith lecturer in succession to be named the country’s top teacher, when he shared the honour with Monash University’s Kevin Tant.

Associate Professor Rane followsin the academic footsteps of Griffith’s Associate Professor Brydie-Leigh Bartleet, the 2014 recipient.

“My focus has always been on my students and the skills and knowledge they need to be competent in the field of Islam-West relations and beyond. It is my students who I thank first and foremost for this award. They are my key source of inspiration and motivation.

“Student learning outcomes have driven me to innovate in respect to my teaching. While its effectiveness has been proven by their graduate outcomes, it is also reassuring to have this acknowledged at such a level of higher education in Australia with such a prestigious award.

“However, I cannot imagine this achievement without the ongoing support of my colleagues and the leadership at Griffith University who recognise the importance of the field in which I teach and value my contributions to it.”

FIND OUT MORE: Islamic Studies educator named Australia’s best teacher

The internationally acclaimed scholar of Islam-West relationsdesigned and developed a suite of Islamic Studies with a contemporary, secular focus on Islam-West relations since joining Griffith in 2008.

“I approach teaching with a student focus and outcomes orientation. My objective is todistil from classical studies of Islam the most essential skills and knowledge, relate this to contemporary ideas, issues and events, and convey this to students through the perspectives and approaches of various relevant disciplines within the humanities and social sciences.

“The purpose of which is to produce graduates who have the capacity to competently, effectively and professionally deal with the complex issues facing Australia and the world today that arise from the challenges of conflict, crises and coexistence.

“I am in a somewhat unique position of teaching in a field that developed in a different socio-cultural context,for a different student cohort andfor a different purpose. I have the privilege and challenge of reinventing Islamic Studies in a Western, liberal, democratic society formostly non-Muslimstudents who graduate to become employees in various government departments and agencies, NGOs and other organisations, and as educators, journalists and researchers in roles that have the potential to impact on the future of Islam-West relations, social harmony and international peace and security.”

Halim.Widescreen2An example of Associate Professor Rane’s innovative approach to teaching is the annual Muslim World Study Tour to Malaysia, Turkey, Spain and Morocco which offers students a first-hand opportunity to engage with a diversity of people, cultures and societies with deep roots in Islamic civilisation. He will lead the 2016 cohort in January, an out-of-classroom experience he places great emphasis on.

“I think the profession of teaching is being shaped by emerging technology and economic imperatives.

“While both of these factors create incentives for more efficient ways of teaching, as educators we must also maintain a focus on the effectiveness of our methods for student learning. I hope that higher education will make learning outcomes the main determinate of our delivery methods.

“It is important to recognise that certain courses may be best delivered through online modes, while for others some form of face-to-face is still necessary. In my particular field, it is essential for my students’ learning outcomes to go beyond the classroom into the field and experience the people, places and issues they study first-hand. That Griffith is committed to maintaining this balance is, for me, both a source of pride and fortune.”