Another win for the ICMA Centre!

By Dina Ghanma, PhD Student at the ICMA Centre

For the third year in a row, the winner of the Reading University Student Union Graduate Teaching Assistant Excellence Award (I know; it’s a mouthful!) is an ICMA Centre PhD student – and we’re hoping to keep the streak going!

What are these awards?

RUSU grants ‘Excellence’ awards every year to those members of the UoR community who have shown exceptional commitment to students, and the winners are decided on the basis of student nominations. The awards are coupled with an annual Showcase where winners give short talks, mainly about their “best practice in teaching”.

This year, I have had the honour of winning the Graduate TA award for Securities, Futures and Options (SFO), so I had the opportunity to say a few words at the Showcase. In creating my presentation, I tried to reflect the theme of the event, which was “Partnership in Teaching and Learning”, so instead of deciding for myself what led to this win, I focused on what the students liked!

What did the students mention in their nominations?

‘Easy to follow teaching style’. One of the tricky aspects of teaching the MSc SFO class is that the seminars needed to be balanced between challenging and introductory for those with and without Finance backgrounds. Since I fundamentally believe that a teacher’s job is to take something that looks unbreachable and make it familiar and simple, I chose to tackle all concepts gradually, building ideas one small step at a time.

‘Innovative teaching techniques’. An example of this that the students mentioned was the use of Poll Everywhere. A few lecturers also use this, and it is always engaging! One way I used it was to help students remember the differences between Futures and Forwards. I would put up a characteristic as the ‘title’ – something like, “Highly standardised” – and the students selected from the choices using their own phones or tablets. The class screen updates in real time, and then we would have a short discussion on the right answer (P.S. It’s Futures for this one!).

‘Very accessible one-to-one help’. Another website I used was Doodle for office hours management. This one’s pretty self-explanatory. I listed all the half-hour slots I had per week, and students selected the one that worked for them (strictly using their username/email). Then, not only does the appointment get confirmed with an Outlook invite, but other students would be able to see the change in my availability, live! Best thing about it is that nobody’s time gets wasted.

‘Revision Class’. Not uncommon to have, but students appreciated that it was not rushed and scheduled very close to the exam so that most of their studying would have already been done!

Winning this award twice is more than humbling. I couldn’t have done it without the support and guidance of our department heads, the SFO teaching team (Dr Konstantina Kappou and my fellow PhD colleagues, Robert Wichmann and Victoria Gevorkova), my supervisors (Dr Ioannis Oikonomou and Dr Simone Varotto) and the Programmes team!

Finally, to my students… I cannot express enough gratitude to you for taking the time to nominate me. Thank you, all! I wish you the best of luck in the final weeks of your degrees!

Dina's Award

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