Christien Janssen has become a celebrity in the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment. At the main entrance, a screen shows a photo of the smiling Lecturer of the Year every couple of minutes. It makes Janssen happy. “Although I think they must have had enough of me by now."
It is a dream that came true, she says. “I always said in every performance evaluation at the Faculty that I wanted to be Lecturer of the Year. When my name came up on one of the nomination letters, I thought ‘Yes, I’m there’.”
From the nomination letters, filled in by students, a shortlist was made at Architecture and the Built Environment of the most named candidates. “When I got an email saying that I too was on that list, I asked the organisers who my competitors were,” says Janssen. “They were quite big names so I didn’t think I stood a chance as an ordinary teacher.”
In the end, Janssen won the Faculty elections and was nominated for the TU Delft wide elections. There too she assumed that she had little chance as a teacher with only a master’s degree under her belt.
Janssen does not think that winning these elections was due to anything clever on her part. “I don’t feel that I did anything special to deserve it. I earned the title by just being myself.”
Apparently her students appreciate the way she teaches, she says. “I saw a list of compliments at the Faculty elections.” The list included things like listens carefully, has plenty of energy and enthusiasm, and continues explaining things until they are understood. “I apparently do not give standard lessons and this is appreciated.”
‘Demonstrating things works well for our students’
Architecture student Nikita Ham recognises the compliments. Last year she was Commissioner of Education of the Stylos study association and was thus one of the people responsible for the Lecturer of the Year elections at Architecture and the Built Environment. She believes that one of Janssen’s strong points is demonstrating theory during her lectures. “At the voting round we received several comments from students about a recorder that she brought to lectures to explain accoustic theories. This kind of thing is not done often, while it is demonstrating things that works well for our students.”
When giving assignments, Janssen also thinks things through, says Ham. “Some teachers tell the students that it works like this and you need to do that. I look at an assignment like a puzzle that should be solved together. Janssen does not say ‘do this’ but gives you the tools to find the solution so that you think about it.”
(Photo: TU Delft)
Janssen is now thinking about how to spend the prize money (EUR 5,000) for the subject group. One of the options is a new physical model. “One of the models that we have now is a box with glass sides that shows heat transfer. It contains a light bulb that emits heat. If you open a hatch or put a fan on, the heat transfer in the model changes. I enjoy doing this to explain how a physical phenomenon works. I would like to have more of these kind of models, for example for humidity, light or energy.”
When asked whether even a Lecturer of the Year makes mistakes, Janssens needs to think. “Someone once submitted a complaint about me because I was wearing my Mickey Mouse sweater at the final presentation of a subject,” Janssen laughs. “I promised that I would never again wear it during presentations.”
- The other nominees were Paul Breedveld (3mE), Tom Vroegrijk (TPM), Marc Gerritsma (AE), Herre van der Zant (AS), Jan Rots (CEG), Alessandro Bozzon (IDE) and Egbert Bol (EEMCS). Watch the video with all the candidates.