LSE's Excellence in Education Awards were given to Professor Pauline Barrieu, Professor Irini Moustaki, Professor Fiona Steele, and Dr Hao Xing in the Department.
The Awards are made to staff who have demonstrated outstanding teaching contribution and educational leadership in their departments.
Professor Irini Moustaki talks about her approach to teaching
My favourite thing about teaching at LSE is the students
What makes being a statistician within a social science institution like LSE so enjoyable is that we get students from very different academic backgrounds who are all extremely motivated.
The courses I teach include students from Statistics, Social Policy, Government, Social Psychology, and others from across the School. What I like most is that they all ask very different questions - from a focus on mathematics, to what concepts mean, to how they can use methods in real data problems.
I tell students that statistics is like art
Statistics is not rigid. There are so many different ways of approaching the subject and it’s not something that you can only learn from your text book. Whenever you have to explore a research question, creativity and knowledge of different statistical areas are required.
Often in the beginning, students think there is just one solution for every problem, so it’s intriguing when they realise that for any statistical problem there is more than one way forward, and there are always pros and cons to each option.
I like putting students’ minds at ease about statistics
Sometimes the subject can be a bit intimidating, but I always try to find ways to show that statistics can be done in an easy and enjoyable way.
What’s so special about LSE is that teaching and research are so intertwined
My research is about developing methods and tools for measuring behaviour and attitudes, and the fact I can teach courses that are related to the techniques I’ve been learning and developing throughout my academic career is something that I really value.
At LSE we like people to teach things that are connected to their research, but teaching is also an opportunity to connect with students and help them to develop their own interests and ideas. In that way you can be a good researcher, but you need to be a good teacher as well.
I find students’ enthusiasm inspiring
Our students are highly engaged. It’s great when different points of view coincide in class and when students from different subjects learn from each other.
I also like that our students ask questions, and are willing to follow things up with you. Social science students want to understand methods and tools to solve their own data problems, and sometimes in class you get questions that you don’t know the answer to that leads to a new problem to think about. In that way, my research inspires my teaching and my teaching inspires my research.
I bring a lot of humour into teaching
I try to make students feel relaxed and encourage discussion. I also provide resources prior to class for students to work on. I am keen to keep developing and enhancing my teaching skills by observing other lectures and attending teaching events organised by the teaching and learning centre.
I also encourage my students to go to seminars and listen to other people’s ideas and areas of work – it helps you realise that there’s another world out there that you have to step into and explore yourself.
My advice to anyone who is just starting to teach is to be compassionate to students.
I was a PhD student at LSE, and when I first started teaching I learnt that you have to be very understanding. It’s important to bring humanity into the classroom, and encourage students to help and learn from each other.