Lt. Col. André Pretorius believes that being a hands-on teacher and finding innovative solutions in the classroom can offer many more learning opportunities to the students he teaches in the Faculty of Military Science at Stellenbosch University (SU).
He shares why teaching is so important to him and some of his career highlights that helped him win a 2019 SU Teaching Excellence Award.
What motivated you to teach in this field and how long have you been teaching?
I have been in some form of teaching since 1990, when I started as a junior instructor in the military and progressed in the 20+ years after that to senior educator and e-learning designer in the military. It has really been a calling and passion for me to discover new ways to teach and learn. This experience served me well to be become a lecturer at the Faculty of Military Science.
Having a keen interest in the field also helped, but my main motivation was to find solutions to everyday user problems and in particular how to assist students in their online learning experience. A fortunate consequence of this is that I have a wealth of data available to improve my courses, almost in real-time. Also, the fine granularity of the activities that generate active user data for analysis means that one can predict and remedy learning challenges.
What have been some of your career highlights?
Leading in the military since a young age while teaching other young soldiers laid the foundation for me to progress to advance teaching technologies at the time when such technologies were still in its infancy. This lead to my appointment as project officer for the first e-learning platform to be used in the SA Defence Force and was an honour for me. In turn, this laid the foundation for me to implement the first fully online course that was successfully used by distance education and residential students at the Faculty of Military Science.
What does the SU Teaching Excellence award mean to you?
Winning this teaching award confirms that my work in this field is recognised by my peers as important to our organisation's future. It makes me proud to know that I have somehow helped to achieve the future vision of an organisation, which lies close to my heart.
What impact will this award have on your teaching career going forward?
This award is a symbol of my continued efforts to improve teaching which serves as inspiration to continue for the rest of my career. I am determined to distinguish myself further in the field of teaching through research and scholarship as it provides opportunities to improve the lives of others.
What do you hope your students will take away from your teaching?
I hope that my students will discover their own potential in learning new and complex concepts while also embracing some of the values that our society have in this field. I hope that I will set the standard by which they judge their future studies and level of professionalism.
*Pretorius, along with the other Teaching Excellence winners, will receive their awards during a ceremony at the end of the fourth quarter.
For more information about the Teaching Excellence Awards, contact Dr Karin Cattell-Holden at firstname.lastname@example.org or 021 808 3074.