Willems-Jones: Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Education Scholarship

Research Overview

Dr. Amber Willems-Jones is a teaching specialist in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Amber completed her PhD in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Melbourne in 2004 on the Molecular Interactions of the TyrR bacterial regulatory protein, before working as a molecular biologist research fellow at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre for 7-years with the familial breast cancer consortium, kConFab. In 2012, Dr Willems-Jones returned to the University of Melbourne to assume the role of Subject Coordinator/Lecturer for the second-year practical biochemistry subject, Techniques in Molecular Science. Amber is passionate about ensuring students acquire the requisite skills and understanding of the key concepts that lay at the foundation of practical biochemistry & molecular biology.

Amber is also the Exchange/Global mobility advisor for the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Amber’s passion lies in ensuring both students and staff have access to the requisite skill set to make the most of their University experiences. Her research is directed to the development of inquiry-based learning tasks designed to improve student understanding, as well as promoting the importance of self-regulated learning processes and self-reflection strategies. Amber is also involved in developing professional development modules directed to casual teaching staff (demonstrators) to enhance their teaching experiences.

Project areas of interest:

  • Development of alternative teaching methods for second-year biochemistry practical subjects, e.g. virtual laboratory lessons
  • Assessing the utility of an inquiry-based teaching and learning tool to facilitate student concept comprehension in a ‘virtual lab’ environment
  • Improving student judgement through self-reflection and self-assessment
  • The role of the student-demonstrator interaction and its impact on student self-regulated learning
  • Development and implementation of learning tools to improve the writing skills and communication of scientific data for undergraduate Science/Biomedical Science students
  • Professional development for casual practical teaching staff to foster improved teaching experiences.


2016 UoM Learning and Teaching Initiative Grant: “Choose your own adventure: An inquiry-¬based learning module for practical class students to consolidate their understanding of molecular biology and protein biochemistry”: $30,000

2016 UoM Learning and Teaching Initiative Grant: “School¬wide review, harmonisation and enhancement of the teaching of scientific writing to prepare research¬ ready graduates, skilled in scientific analysis, critical thinking and communication”: $30,000

2017 MDHS Seed Learning and Teaching Initiative Grant: “Task-¬switching strategies used by final year BSc students in a multifaceted laboratory classes”: $5,000

2018 UoM Learning and Teaching Initiative Grant: “Feed Forward: mining assessment data to guide future study”: Principle applicant, Dr Terry Mulhern: $30,000

Research Opportunities

This research project is available to PhD students to join as part of their thesis.
Please contact the Research Group Leader to discuss your options.

Research Publications

Willems-Jones, AJ, Tan, J-T, Kountouri, N, Russell, J (2018). Harmonising the teaching of scientific communication skills through the development of an e-learning tool. Proceedings of the Australian Conference on Science and Mathematics Education, Flinders University, 26-28 September 2018.

Research Projects

This Research Group doesn't currently have any projects

School Research Themes

Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact Dr Amber Willems-Jones

Department / Centre

Biochemistry and Pharmacology

Unit / Centre

Willems-Jones: Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Education Scholarship

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