Everyone who puts in the work to get to university wants to know they’ve got the best teachers backed by the strongest research.
Griffith Health Institute academic, Dr Jessica Vanderlelie was recently recognised for her exemplary teaching with an Australian Award for Excellence in Learning and Teaching in the Early Career category.
Dr Vanderlelie, a biochemistry lecturer at the Gold Coast campus, is a home grown Griffith talent, born and bred on the Coast and attended the university as an undergraduate and postgraduate student.
But like elite performance in any field, it is a passion for her job which makes Dr Vanderlelie one of the best university teachers in Australia.
“For me there is so much I love about teaching; every class is an opportunity to show my students how truly fascinating biochemistry can be. I especially love watching understanding dawn on their faces.
“Even marking hundreds of exam questions is enjoyable when you see how well your class has picked up the theory. There is nothing better than marking a paper 100%. It happened for the first time the other night and I felt like framing it.”
She’ll now have something even more satisfying to frame after the Australian Office of Teaching and Learning recognised her classroom talents.
“It was amazing to be recognised like this, it’s always nice to have your work noticed and appreciated, but you don’t do it [teaching] for awards, obviously,” she said.
“I enjoy every opportunity I have to connect with my students. I use my passion to encourage students to engage with the content and they really appreciate my efforts.
“For me teaching is an intuitive, active experience, but the knowledge I gained from my educational training here at Griffith has helped me realise that the strategies I use are strongly grounded in educational theory.
“I am fortunate that Griffith is very supportive of developing teachers and I’m so glad I was able to begin my career here.”
Though clearly a natural as a teacher and communicator, Dr Vanderlelie emphasises the value of mutual respect, mentoring, and a sense of fun.
“People are often surprised to hear that biochemistry can be fun, I take my students on a supportive and exciting learning adventure and they achieve high quality results by approaching their study in that spirit.”