Professor Caroline Elliott discusses her work as Deputy Director of the Economics Network & why she came to WarwickTuesday 29 Sep 2020
What academic projects have you been involved in recently?
I am currently involved in editing a series of books that provide practical advice on how to teach. This is in association with my previous institution, Aston Business School. The first book with advice on how to teach and how to assess students imaginatively was published by Edward Elgar in autumn 2019. We are currently editing the follow up book which focuses more specifically on the use of games, simulations and playful learning in Business School settings, including economics and law. There are plans for two more books on teaching and assessing corporate social responsibility and enterprise and entrepreneurship.
Separate to my teaching pedagogy work, I am also interested in the economics of education, alongside my research as an applied industrial economist. Having previously published on the impact of a well-known UK competition policy case that concluded that fifty leading independent schools had operated an illegal price-fixing cartel, I am now working on a project with co-authors that considers the determinants of independent school efficiency. This work is still linked to industrial economics, as we consider the impact of formal and informal school coalitions as well as competition between schools as potential determinants of school efficiency.
You are Deputy Director of the Economics Network. What does this work involve?
I've worked with The Economics Network since its inception, having been an inaugural winner of the lecturing prize for the national Economics Learning and Teaching Support Network, the pre-cursor to The Economics Network. For the past few years I have been a Senior Associate of the Network and became Deputy Director in early 2020. For many years I have helped organise and contribute to the Early Career Lecturer and Graduate Teaching Assistant workshops that take place each year. I'm continuing with this work but of course the additional challenge this year is that all the training is taking place online, and we need to provide training for colleagues online and potentially in person teaching. This is a really rewarding part of the role as it offers an opportunity to help encourage, support and hopefully inspire the next generation of university economics lecturers across the UK and increasingly internationally, too. I am a regular contributor to The Economics Network teaching resources including the online handbooks, and I am currently part of the team hoping to obtain funding to create resources to support more inclusive economics curricula.
What impact do you hope your work will have on society and the teaching of economics?
Ultimately, I hope that my work will inspire other academics to realise how important and rewarding economics teaching and lecturing can be, giving peers the confidence to experiment in their teaching. Throughout my teaching career I have experimented with the use of games, technology and different forms of assessment, and I hope that this keeps the teaching and learning 'fresh'. Meanwhile, I would like students to appreciate that economics and economic decision making is always all around us. In short, I simply want to pass on my curiosity and enthusiasm for the subject.
What brought you to Warwick?
I had always admired Warwick's research reputation and in recent years I had increasingly admired its reputation for very high quality economics teaching, too. My previous role was as Deputy Dean of Aston Business School and while there were many enjoyable features of the role, it was purely a managerial role. I came to Warwick for the Developments in Economics Education conference in 2019, organised by The Economics Network. Listening to presenters talk about their teaching experience and innovations, I appreciated just how much I personally missed teaching. Once I understood the nuances of the campus's car parks while attending the conference, I realised also what a great environment the campus would be to work in.
Why did you decide to become an economist?
All through my childhood I wanted to be a professional musician. I still remember clearly the school assembly when the Headmaster asked us who wanted to apply to Oxbridge. It suddenly occurred to me that actually I was much better in my A level Economics studies than I was in my musical studies. I applied and got into Oxford University to study Politics, Philosophy and Economics but throughout my degree it was always the economics part of the degree that I enjoyed the most. As I was finishing my undergraduate degree I knew instinctively that I still wanted to study Economics in more depth. I felt the same after completing my Master's degree and that interest in understanding economics better never dissipated, even after studying for my PhD at the University of Manchester. I rather suspect that my family never understood this, always hoping that I would instead choose to get a very well-paid job applying my economics knowledge in the private sector.
What is the next challenge for you?
The next challenge most definitely is becoming an effective online lecturer. Having looked forward to the return to teaching, it is strange to think that my first teaching will be sat in front of my computer rather than in a large lecture theatre where I have l always enjoyed enthusing the students. But I have embraced the challenge and look forward to meeting and engaging with the students on digital platforms.
About Professor Caroline Elliott
Caroline Elliott joined the Department as a Professor of Economics (teaching focussed) in September 2020. She is also the Deputy Director of The Economics Network. She was previously Deputy Dean at Aston Business School, and prior to that worked at the Universities of Huddersfield, Lancaster and Manchester. Her research interests are in applied industrial economics, cultural economics, education economics and teaching technologies.
For further details of her publications please see her staff profile: Professor Caroline Elliott.