Dr Mark Ellison

Australian Award for University Teaching - Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning
Research School of Chemistry
ANU College of Science

Why am I a lecturer? Because that allows me the privilege of participating in the development of confident, critical and knowledgeable people who are potential leaders in their field of science, as well as thoughtful and aware citizens. My experience with university teaching has helped me understand the need to balance a sensitivity to students' needs with respect for their independence: as Ralph Emerson put it, 'The secret of success in education is in respecting the pupil'.

I believe there are three things that inspire students to learn: enthusiasm, enjoyment and context, to be presented with a liberal dash of humour at all times.

Enthusiasm is my key to unlocking quality teaching. I love teaching and am constantly excited by it. I can easily convey my passion about chemistry to my students because I genuinely believe it is an important and relevant field of study. The committed teacher is as much a student as those they teach: I enjoy finding out about how my students learn. This helps me ensure that the way I teach, organise courses and conduct assessment contributes positively to what they learn. To me, the learning process is analogous to links in a chain, the links being the teacher, the students and the learning environment. If any of these weakens and breaks, so does the learning process. It is my responsibility to constantly work on the bonds (like any good chemist!) between each of these links.

What helps me stand out as an educator is my commitment to a constant cycle of improvement, which, together with my deep understanding of the scholarly literature and a focus on student learning needs, allows me to risk introducing innovation into my teaching. Essentially I am student-centred: I am good at getting and responding to feedback from my students, and working out what they need and want. I am also a highly dedicated educator, prepared to do whatever it takes to get my students to succeed. Sustained teaching of CHEM1101 Chemistry 1 and CHEM1201 Chemistry 2, the two semester-long first year courses, has given me the opportunity to influence large numbers of students very early in their academic careers.

Evidence for success in one's teaching comes in many forms, but my favourite piece of feedback-deliberately reflecting my own penchant for using music in my teaching-is undoubtedly the rap video 'Natural Chemist' made by students in my 2007 Chemistry 2 class.