Great teachers are remembered, long after graduation. The SSE award for outstanding pedagogical achievements for the 2019 fall term goes to Associate Professor Robert Östling.
The awardee Robert Östling and Pär Åhlström, Vice President Degree Programs
Good pedagogical skills are something worth acknowledging. The award for outstanding pedagogical achievements recognizes the important work our teachers do in educating and motivating our students. The hope is that the award will encourage teachers at the Stockholm School of Economics to continue developing their pedagogical skills.
Robert Östling teaches an elective course in Empirical Economics at the BSc program in Business and Economics. He puts in a lot of effort and work into his teaching, and considering this was his first-time teaching econometrics, Östling sees the award as a personal accomplishment.
While he uses econometrics in his own research, teaching it is a very different matter altogether, he adds –and quite different from the subjects he has taught in the past. He also highlights the important role that his colleagues play in making the course a success:
"I took over the course from Erik Lindqvist who has developed the course over several years. He is the one that baked the cake – I merely put some berries on top of it," Robert Östling says. "In addition, I got excellent help from the two teaching assistants, Cristina Clerici and Oliver Engist, who helped me to serve the cake. So, it is a little bit unfair that I personally receive the award."
Three tips for improving pedagogical performance
So how can fellow pedagogues improve their pedagogical performance? Robert Östling shares three things he thinks a lot about.
"I try to put myself in the shoes of the students, often by thinking about what I struggled with the first time I was exposed to the same material. I then try to figure out the best way to help them overcome those difficulties."
"I also think a lot about how to motivate the students. Students are motivated by different things and I therefore try to explain why the material is relevant in several ways. This is particularly important when teaching econometrics because few students are instinctively excited about it and worry that it is a very dry topic. In this course, I primarily tried to keep interest up by providing many applications from recent research from different areas of economics so they understand all the great things you can do with econometric tools."
"And finally, students will not listen to a teacher who is not enthusiastic about what they are teaching. Of course, I am not equally excited about all material, but I try my best to keep the level of enthusiasm up."
Great teachers are remembered, long after graduation. Anyone going to school or university can probably agree on that. Robert Östling's secret trick is a digital tool:
"I think they will remember some of my animations from my slides. I learned how to do animated gifs for this course, primarily to show how chance plays out in various statistical simulations."
The jury's motivation
"Robert Östling teaches an elective course in Empirical Economics at the BSc in Business and Economics. He manages to make a challenging, demanding and rigorous course both compelling and entertaining. The course explains mathematical abstractions and relate them to real-world research in a manner that appeals both to students with an interest in quantitative methods and to students who struggle with them."