Teaching Symposium 2014 for early career lecturers and teaching assistants

By Alvin Birdi and Ashley Lait, the Economics Network
Published May 2014

As part of its continual efforts to improve the service it provides to lecturers and teachers of HE economics, the Network ran its first ever Symposium for Early Careers Lecturers and Graduate Teaching Assistants at the LSE on 2nd April.

This event arose as a result of feedback from previous training events in which delegates expressed a desire to see more practice-based training particularly in specific content areas such as econometrics.

The event was attended by around 55 participants from 27 different universities. It began with parallel and practical sessions on teaching and assessing quantitative economics (with Frank Witte and Guglielmo Volpe), teaching and assessing essay-based economics (with Alvin Birdi and Christian Spielmann) and course/module design (with Peter Smith and Caroline Elliott).

The participants were then split into two groups for the afternoon sessions, which were repeated to allow everyone to attend both. One session was led by a professional actor and former drama lecturer, Pete Bailie, who engaged participants in various aspects of bodily presence, enunciation and speech control. The session covered material that is essential for engagement and effective teaching but which, as an attendee commented, is all too easily overlooked in delivery.

The other afternoon session introduced participants to alternative uses of classroom time including problem-based learning and lecture flipping. In addition, participants were introduced to a range of technologies and how to effectively use these in their teaching. The session was led by Paul Middleditch, Will Moindrot and Gugliemo Volpe.

The day was rounded off with a keynote address from Economics Network patron, journalist and author, Tim Harford. Tim contrasted the stark deductive approach of Garret Hardin to the tragedy of the commons with that of Elinor Ostrom who studied the various and somewhat messier ways in which communities had found practical and lasting solutions to the problem. His talk led to a discussion on methodology and pedagogical approaches in economics and in particular on the overuse of the Powerpoint slide.

Following the success and positive feedback from the symposium, we plan to run it again in April 2015, so keep an eye on the events page on our website for further information.

Feedback:

  • 93.9% of attendees would recommend this event to a colleague.
  • 97% agreed or strongly agreed that the presenters were of a high standard.

The symposium was ‘exciting and gave more practical points to improve my teaching ability and presentation skills’.

‘I have learnt more about different teaching styles by engaging with other lecturers’.

‘Pete Bailie was great... actually amazing! As was Tim Harford’

‘It was great to meet and talk to so many young PhD students and reassuring to hear that they experience the same problems’.

‘It was a lovely atmosphere and it was nice to take part in a day where there was so much enthusiasm’.

Thanks to University College London and the London School of Economics who co-hosted this event.