Several international faculty members were voted best teachers this year. We spoke to two winners, Nicola Kozicharow, Assistant Professor at the School of History, and Kemal Kivanc Akoz, Assistant Professor at the Department of Theoretical Economics, about the competition and what the student assessment meant to them.
It was a fantastic surprise to be selected in my first year at HSE University and by such an outstanding group of students on the History of Art BA programme. The fact that they felt so positive while learning online in the middle of a global pandemic is remarkable and speaks volumes about their own capabilities and perseverance.
Their enthusiasm and intellectual rigour made teaching an uplifting, mutually rewarding experience.
It’s made me feel even more excited about teaching this coming year. Last year, both students and teachers had to make huge adjustments to adapt to distance learning, and while it presented many challenges (and frustrations), I think we all saw there were unexpected benefits and advantages we could learn from. It’s helped me see new ways of doing things and re-evaluate my in-person teaching practices as a result.
Feedback is essential for teaching, both officially through Teaching Quality Assessment and informally across the year. The students shouldn’t underestimate the contribution their comments make to our ongoing development as teachers and the content of our courses.
I’ve been giving this a lot of thought over the summer while updating my course programmes, and understanding which assignments they found useful or challenging, which topics or sources were the most engaging (or dull!), and so forth is instrumental in making any adjustments or changes.
Teachers rely on student assessment to ensure that our courses continue to feel fresh and stimulating for each new group of students every year.
All feedback is good feedback – if we only get praise, how can we improve or make necessary changes each year? Just like when we assess students’ work, it is important to know what worked and what didn’t, and even the smallest suggestions can have an impact.
I am honored and humbled to receive one of the Best Teacher Awards this year. Working with the intelligent and curious students of HSE University has been a great pleasure for me. I am really glad that my students’ experiences were also positive.
Like any positive feedback from students, this award gives me a boost to exert more effort to improve my teaching further. Of course, any feedback from students, positive or negative, is extremely useful for me to update my teaching material to create a better learning environment during the lectures.
That’s why I try give as many opportunities as possible to students to express their opinions and comments during the lectures. Based on the reactions of students, I try my best to find better ways to present the key concepts and ideas.
I am grateful to all students who take their time to submit their teaching evaluations.
There were a few times that I received the feedback that some of my lectures are too technical. I understand and sympathize with such concerns. I always try to enrich those parts of the lecture materials that are more technical with interesting examples and applications. However, it is a challenging task for me to completely address this issue without taking out some of the most difficult concepts and arguments from the lecture materials.
I am hoping that every time I update my lecture notes, I am getting better at presenting difficult concepts in a way that students can follow without losing their interests.
Nicola Kozicharow has been at HSE University since 2020. Kemal Kivanc Akoz has been at HSE University since 2018.