Stephen Hickson was born in England but moved to Christchurch at the age of four, and he loves living in the city. 'I'm married with three kids, aged 11, 14 and 16. Our house also has three cats, a puppy (which actually belongs to my 11-year-old) and a rabbit. I'm an active member of Lincoln Baptist Church. In my spare time I do a bit of swimming, running and biking to stay fit. There are few things better than being out around Long Bays on a beautiful day.'
Stephen worked for 15 years at Statistics New Zealand, while also teaching Economics part-time at UC. When he was offered the chance to teach full-time, he grabbed it. 'I really enjoy teaching Economics and this was a great opportunity,' he says.
'The things I like most about working at UC are the people I work with, the flexibility of the job, and the interaction I have with the students. It's great when a student says, "I really enjoyed that and learned a lot from it".'
When teaching, Stephen's main aim is to show his passion for his subject. 'I want to connect with what the students already know and find interesting,' he says. 'I enjoy Economics because I get to think about why people do what they do. There are often times when we think that the way some people behave is odd or they must be making mistakes when in fact they are usually making decisions that are consistent with what is in their interests. Economics is about looking for why people behave the way they do.'
Stephen's interest in teaching has seen him publish research about assessment. For example whether multiple choice or written response questions types disadvantage some groups compared to others, according to gender or ethnicity or language.
Stephen has some practical advice for prospective students. 'If you want to do a serious Economics degree then you'll need some mathematics and statistics. One first-year paper of each is enough, though more is helpful. Read some popular economics books – they give you the intuition of the subject.
'Any student looking to come to UC to study Economics is very welcome to come and see me,' he adds.