Honorary Mention for F. Oswald
Honorary Mention for F. Oswald
- Tweet from Florian Oswald about online econometrics course
The European Economic Association (EEA) announced the recipients of its 2022 Award for Innovation in Teaching this past week. The 2000€ prize is awarded to an individual or group, who has demonstrated innovation in their teaching. The Award Committee received very strong applications from more than 15 institutions including UCL, University of St.Gallen, KU Leuven, and… Sciences Po!
The Department’s permanent faculty member Florian OSWALD received an honorary mention, alongside UCL’s Centre for Teaching and Learning Economics. The laureate - the Graduate Applications International Network (GAIN) - was commended for its work in supporting prospective graduate students from across all countries in Africa, in applying for postgraduate and PhD programmes in Economics and other related subject such as political science.
Florian teaches three courses (undergrad Introduction & Advanced Econometrics, and PhD-level Computational Economics) whose “unifying feature is that they all use a fair amount of computer code to either help illustrate core concepts…, or indeed because code is the main content to talk about.” In his own words, these are “data science courses for economists”.
For Florian, such courses must be “hands on” – “working with computers and software to solve problems needs to be practiced first hand, i.e. by the students themselves” – and is a strong believer in the virtues of team work – not only do less experienced students stand to gain from more experienced ones, but the advanced students also benefit from having to teach concepts and to view problems from a different angle at times in order to better explain them to their peers. And all students stand to benefit from overcoming “a certain form of stigma which deters them from asking questions”.
This teaching philosophy undoubtedly warranted the EEA’s honorary mention for innovation in teaching. It also helped Florian, as well as Jean-Marc ROBIN, address a critical issue for undergraduate econometrics courses: students were complaining that the ‘traditional’ econometrics course was either too hard, too mathematical, or too easy and not challenging enough.
Florian and Jean-Marc “took the dramatic step to completely eliminate all linear algebra and proofs” preferring “interactive simulation exercises” and “(investing) heavily in producing R interactive apps and online quizzes for moodle”.
They also chose tools that would foster simple and clear communication as well as team work. According to Florian “these are exciting times to try out new environments for teaching, and everything that makes teaching (and learning) more fun and enjoyable should be an option. In November 2020 for example, we used the custom-built gather.town model of the department of economics at Sciences Po in order to do group work in the econometrics course. Students choose different virtual “rooms” to sit in (they have to walk around on screen in a very simple 2D setting), and then talk to each other in a video-conference.”
The student feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Congratulations to Florian Oswald !
Read the EEA announcement
To learn more about Florian’s innovative teaching methods and student feedback, check out his blog on his website
Florian OSWALD joined the Department in 2015. Specialised in housing, urban, macro and labour economics, he is also interested in the computational techniques required for structural estimation of microeconometric models.