LSE Innovator

SADL and Statistics: an interview with Professor Pauline Barrieu

Dr Jane Secker, Programme Manager for SADL caught up with Professor Pauline Barrieu, Deputy Head of Department in Statistics at LSE. Statistics students have always made up an important part of the student ambassador cohort and this year seven of the nine Senior Ambassadors, providing support for the programme, were from this department. Jane was interested to know why digital literacy might be so important to Statistics students, what this programme might also be offering the group and the impact it might have had on the department more widely.

Jane: Why do you think Statistics students are so engaged with SADL?


Professor Pauline Barrieu

Pauline: I think there are some clear reasons why the programme appeals to our students, many of whom are actually taking the Actuarial Science programme or the Business Mathematics and Statistics (BMS) programme. Understanding data and information is a fundamental part of statistics. Being about to manipulate data, to work with data is a really important skill, so I think digital literacy is something that our students also recognize as an important part of their curriculum. I also think our undergraduate students are very focused young people. They know what they want to do at 18 and they recognize the importance of issues such as data confidentiality. They know this is going to be very important in their future careers so I think they see the benefit of this programme.

Jane: Do you think your students from the Actuarial Science programme are different from other undergraduates at LSE then?

Pauline: This programme has fewer optional courses, the students are very focused, they have a clear idea of what they would like to do as a career, which I personally find very impressive for people of that age! During our ASC review last year, Paul Kelly mentioned how mature and articulated our students were – they seem to be very focused and know what they want.

Coming back to SADL, I think the flatter structure of the progamme, how they are taught as your peers also appeals to them as it’s different to what they experience in our classes. Some of the experiences they have, for example, acting as a Senior Ambassador and providing peer support to others helps to develop their confidence. It’s also great to give students experience of giving presentations and attending conferences with the SADL staff.

Jane: Do you think SADL has had a wider impact on your department?

Pauline: I know many of our lecturers are very keen to be more innovative in their teaching. Statistics do a lot of general courses open to students across LSE who need to learn about statistical analysis. Almost every social scientist needs to understand some form of stats, so we do a lot of teaching of students from a qualitative background where maths and stats is quite alien or difficult for them. It’s really important to try and engage those students and find creative ways of teaching them. One of our lecturers, Sara Geneletti recently applied for a Learning Technology grant from LTI to look to improve assessment on her course. Our in-coming Deputy Head of Department, Irini Moustaki is also very interested in innovations in teaching and working more closely with LTI to use technology effectively. And of course we have James Abdey in Statistics who has won a number of prizes for his teaching and was highlighted as an Innovator in your recent series. This is not an exhaustive list of people and innovation is something really important to lecturers in my department as a way of engaging students with the subject.

Jane: What more could LTI do to help support your department?

Pauline: I think every department across LSE is doing some fantastic things in terms of their teaching. However we don’t always know about these innovations so I think it’s important that LTI share these experiences across the school. One of the biggest problems that gets in the way of this is how busy we all are with so many emails, meetings, reviews, teaching and research. We need some really short guides to give us ideas of what others are doing. Your Innovators series looks great for doing this, to give us ideas for our own teaching in a short digestible form, ideally I would like a version I can read off line too though.

Jane: Is there anything else you can tell me about SADL, digital literacy or learning technologies?

Pauline: I’m interested in why you just focus on undergraduates? I think masters students also need to develop these skills, although of course they spend less time at LSE, so the peer support aspect would work less well. But I think PhD students in quantitative subjects need more help and support around digital literacy. I know the Library offer a course on how to do a literature review, but it would be great to focus a course for our students who publish their thesis by papers, so have quite a different experience. In addition some of our PhD students are sponsored by a private company so there are differences in issues such as ownership of the data in the thesis. We have a standard agreement with the sponsors, but it’s quite different to other departments.

Jane: That’s a really interesting point, and we do try to offer workshops and support for PhD students in LTI with colleagues in the library. But it sounds like we could do more?

Pauline: I also think it’s really important to teach PhD students about this because many of them work as Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs), so teach our undergraduates. In Statistics we have developed a dedicated training for our GTAs, so we will certainly make sure they know about SADL, so they can encourage students to get involved in the programme. Overall, I’m really pleased with this programme, which I think is of great benefit to our undergraduate students, and I am proud so many of them have got involved in SADL.

Jane: It’s been great talking to you Pauline, good luck next year when you take over as Head of Department and I’d just like to thank your department and your wonderful students, who have been an inspiration to me and the SADL teaching team.

Original post taken from the SADL blog

April 21st, 2016|Digital Literacy, innovation, LSE Innovator, LTI Grants, Teaching & Learning|Comments Off on SADL and Statistics: an interview with Professor Pauline Barrieu|

Ideas for course design in the new academic year structure

To complement TLC’s ideas for the new academic year structure, LTI offer some additional ideas for what to do during the ‘reading weeks’ from 2015-16 onwards.

  1.  Students As Producers projects – students can be asked to work collaboratively to create content.  Using technology specifically designed for group collaboration enables students’ to work online and in their own time.  LTI have limited numbers kits containing iPads, iPad mini’s, podcasting equipment and Digital SLR camera’s which can be applied for as part of LTI grants projects. You can also ask students to bring in their own laptops/phones/tablets or other devices or to create collaborate documents and platforms such as Padlet and Paperli. More ideas can be found on our Padlet and from the recent NetworkED talk given by the UK National Teaching Fellow Helen Keegan. Building on TLC’s note on introducing more creative forms of assessment the completed content could count towards an assessment (formative or summative) and depending on how far you want to take the project could be combined with peer marking – with students commenting on each other’s projects.  For example Social Policy carried out peer assessment using WebPA and Teammates and more details can be found in a video with Dr Irene Papanicolas.
  2. Flipped lectures – Ask your students to prepare for week 6 by watching pre-recorded lecture or alternative resource.  The contact time is then used to get students to do something more interactive. LTI run a course on flipping lectures, and places can be booked online

  3. E-Assessment – Use the new academic year structure to rethink how you approach assessment and feedback. LTI are currently running an E-Assessment pilot project with various departments. We would be interested in working with departments to trial new technology for exams in week 0 or in the summer term, and to work on E-Submission and E-Assessment.  To hear some ideas from other academics at LSE and elsewhere, watch the Show and Tell event on E-Assessment we hosted in November this year.
  4.  LTI Grants – we offer Learning Technology and Innovation Grants to encourage individuals and departments to explore the use of new technologies in teaching and learning.  We are seeking applications under the three strands of “E-Assessment”, “Students as Producers” and “Innovation”.  We will hold a third run of grants at the start of the Summer term which will invite applications to be planned over the summer for the 2015/16 academic year.

We look forward to discussing your ideas well in advance of next academic year.  Email

December 16th, 2014|Announcements, Assessment, LSE Innovator, LTI Grants, NetworkED, Social Media, Teaching & Learning, Tools & Technologies, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Ideas for course design in the new academic year structure|

LTI Show and tell on assessment with Technology, 11 November 2014

assessment with technologyLTI recently held a show and tell on assessment with technology with colleagues from LSE, UCL and Westminster. The event was well attended and provided an opportunity to find out the varying ways that technology is being used in to innovate assessment.

The show and tell event is part of the work that is being done by LTI to promote assessment with technology at LSE. The project aims and outcomes outlined by LTI learning technologists Athina Chatzigavriil and Kris Roger can be seen here.  If you are interested in being involved in the working group on e-assessment or have examples of e-submission, e-marking or e-feedback and e-return then please get in touch by emailing

A lecture capture recording of the event (slides and audio) is now available here (LSE login required) or you can read a brief summary of the presentations below.

Alternatives to examinations

Professor George Gaskell started off the event with a brief outline of the changes that are taking place in LSE100, the compulsory course for Undergraduates at LSE. The LSE100 Director explained that the course team are currently investigating alternatives to exams. Using the learning outcomes of the course as the basis for assessment they have been developing a portfolio of activities that will allow students to demonstrate their appreciation of apply social scientific methods, concepts and theories to real world problems. Assessments will have to allow for ‘exit velocity’ and let students to take risks in their first year and allow for the progress of learners over their two years at LSE, while also preventing strategic planning by requiring all components to be completed. The process is still in the developing stages so watch this space for updates.

Peer assessment

papanicolasIriniSmallDr Irini Papanicolas, from Social Policy gave the second presentation on her work with Steve Bond in LTI on peer assessment. Dr Papanicolas discussed how she changed assessment on the course SA4D4 from 100% exam, to 50% exam and 50% presentation. She used ‘WebPA’ to enable students to rate their peers’ presentations using the course mark frame. Although peer assessment was an optional part of the assessment all the groups volunteered feedback and there was a positive response to the process with it creating discussion within the groups on the assessment criteria.

Dr Papanicolas will be using ‘TeamMates’ for this year as it will allow students to not only rate their own groups’ presentation but the individuals contributions within the group.

From peer assessment to peer teaching and learning….
Kevin Tang then reported how ‘Peerwise’ has been used at UCL. Kevin has been working with Sam Green & Stefanie Anyadi in the department of Linguistics to use the platform with 50 undergraduate and 50 postgraduate students. PeerWise allows students to create, answer and discuss questions. Students can rate feedback and are scored on their own contributions, at UCL these contributions are then worth a small percentage of their summative mark for the course.

Research into using the interface indicated that it was important to provide support for students to ‘think like an examiner’ with example questions and training on giving constructive feedback. Academic staff attitudes also played a crucial role in student engagement along with setting regular activities and deadlines.

As most examiners will know it is quite hard to create good questions so UCL asked students to devise questions in groups and found that the questions improved over time with the students in mixed ability groups appearing to benefit the most. The platform provided a space for interaction as students provided detailed feedback for each other which was then used to work on future questions and students were still using the system leading up to the exam for revision purposes.

Games and assessment in Law

Dr Vassiliki Bouki, Principal Lecturer, University of Westminster talked about the use of games in assessment. Dr Bouki demonstrated the ‘law of murder game’ which was developed in ‘Articulate storyline’ and was used as an alternative to coursework for a second year criminal law module. The game was used to demonstrate a real life scenario and assess critical thinking and allowed students to experience role playing to think like a lawyer. Students are given two hours to complete several small tasks in an open book environment. The game is currently in use so data and feedback from students will be available later in the year.

Word processed timed assessments and online feedback

Sunil KumarDr Sunil Kumar, Lecturer in Social Policy & Dean of Graduate Studies, talked about his experiences over three years on the course ‘urbanisation and social policy’. Concerned about how much students were actually learning with the traditional model of examinations, Dr Kumar introduced a 2 hour online formative assessment into his course. Students typed up their answers to short answer and long answer questions in examination style conditions. Dr Kumar was then able to read and mark submissions on his iPad and then upload the anonymised assessments with annotated feedback for all students to see on Moodle. The formative assessments have had 100% attendance with students being able to then learn from other students submissions, encouraging them to review topics they have not yet covered in preparation for the summative examination.

More information about the project can be found on our blog post.