Abhijeet Singh awarded for outstanding pedagogical achievements
– The Award for Outstanding Pedagogical Achievement has now been handed out for the second time, says Pär Åhlström, Vice President Degree Programs.With Abhijeet, three of the school’s highly skilled and motivated teachers have now received the award. SSE has many great teachers, who do a wonderful job in our programs. But these three have stood out in terms of the value they have added to the respective programs they have part of.
Abhijeet Singh, Assistant Professor at the Department of Economics
Abhijeet Singh has since he joined SSE taken over the responsibility for the mandatory course in Econometrics, taught mainly to first year MSc Economics students. The course has under his leadership undergone a complete transformation. Despite being a challenging subject to teach, it is now a highly appreciated course among students.
What does receiving this award mean to you?
It is a privilege to be chosen for the award since this is the first course that I have taught here at SSE and I am very pleased that it has largely been received well by students and the department. I will, of course, continue trying to improve on the content to keep the course material relevant and to improve my own delivery of the instruction.
You have the responsibility for the mandatory course in Econometrics. What are the challenges to teach this subject?
There are two main challenges. The biggest one is that students in the Masters programs come with a wide range of academic preparation; thus, in a mandatory course, it can be challenging to deliver instruction that all students can engage with equally. I try doing this in a few different ways: starting off with a revision of methods that students should ideally already have seen at the Bachelor's level and then moving speed to much more advanced methods, linking to core readings pitched at very different levels (from advanced BSc to PhD levels), offering office hours and TA support, and providing also access to a lot of online support material.
The second challenge is that students sometimes come with a fear that Econometrics is going to be very dry, technical and abstract. While the course does require a moderately high technical grounding, I try to motivate students throughout with empirical examples where the methods are being used and they also do a lot of work in seminar groups and homework assignments to read and critique econometric papers and also learn to apply them on "real world" datasets and problems.
What lies in the heart of your methods? Do you have any tips for other teachers?
I am an applied microeconomist. So the emphasis in my teaching is always to highlight the intuition in the approach being adopted and to show them that this is a remarkably versatile toolkit and is used at answering pressing problems in a range of different areas. As long as students are motivated about the actual questions being looked at, it is easier to motivate them to focus on learning the methodological toolkit. I can't say that I succeeded with all my students but most of them seemed to appreciate this approach.
I don't think I have specific tips for other teachers. Each course faces slightly different challenges and, indeed, most lecturers at the School have more teaching experience than me and probably know best how to approach their courses. The one thing, though, that does work well for me is to take frequent informal soundings of whether students are following my lectures and the course materials - early warnings help me customize the later lectures and fix any conceptual issues before they become serious.