Categories
brain and behaviour learning undergraduate work experience

Salford Research Team Win BPS Psychobiology Section Summer Internship 2015

The team of psychologists (Simon Cassidy, Rob Bendall, Lynne Marrow and Adam Galpin), based in the Directorate of Psychology and Public Health, will be working with student intern Sarah Lambert. Sarah has recently completed her second year on the BSc Psychology (Hons) programme and will be spending the summer working on a project investigating brain imaging and eye-movements as markers of cognitive style. Sarah will be posting here regularly to keep you up to date with her experiences as an intern.

 

#1 – The experiences of a Psych intern….

 

So the first day of my BPS Psychobiology Summer Internship arrived and I had no idea what to expect. To my utter relief I was not ordered to stand up and recount an in depth analysis of cognitive style and biological markers, whilst drafting a detailed sketch of the anatomy of the brain. Nor have I been sent to fetch cups of tea or deliver dry-cleaning. Thanks to the support and reassurance I’ve received from my supervisors, my apprehension has been overshadowed by excitement, and I am thoroughly enjoying my first week as an intern.

My highlights of the week so far include one-to-one training sessions with Rob Bendall on building cognitive experiments in E-Prime (its easy once you know how!), literature searching and a very very handy tutorial from Roy Vickers on how to get the best out of SOLAR.

I’ll be sure to post regular updates of my ongoing experiences and hopefully give you a glimpse of what it’s like taking the first steps into the exciting world of psychological research.

 

 

#2 – The experiences of a Psych intern….

 

 

So here’s where it gets really interesting! This week I’ve been introduced to the lab and the impressive experimental setup that Rob Bendall has created. My initial thought was “this looks incredibly complicated and very expensive – don’t touch ANYTHING”. And a complex system it is. Simultaneously gathering data from eye-tracking, fNIRS brain imaging and E-Prime software, the set-up relies on an extraordinary amount of technology to ensure the experiment runs smoothly. The test data extracted during training sessions, although not relevant to the study, personally makes for interesting viewing.The very fact that internal processes can be converted into visual representations still amazes me.

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Additional tasks this week have included finalising posters and information sheets in preparation for recruitment and drawing up the first draft of the abstract. This has been an education in itself. It’s surprisingly difficult to prepare an abstract without any preliminary data, but I am assured that if I pursue a career in psychological research that this will not be the first and last time I’m in this predicament!

 

With the help of my co-researchers and some very patient guinea pigs I’ve managed to (almost) master the experimental procedure and I’m keen to get this show on the road. We finally have confirmation of ethical approval and so recruitment can start in earnest. Next stop data collection…………… Look out for posters around the psychology Directorate if you want more information on the study of would like to participate.

 

#3 – The experiences of a Psych intern

 

Only three weeks in to the project my position as an intern has taught me more than I ever could have imagined. I began my journey excited at the prospect that this experience was going to be fantastic opportunity to learn more about the mechanics of a research project. On reflection, my initial focus was how lucky I was to have one-to-one training on the lab equipment, and I was eager to learn more about brain imaging and eye-tracking. I didn’t realise that it would offer me something much more valuable – the chance to glimpse into the future and define my own career aspirations. From literature searching, data collection, writing, planning and networking – I’m thoroughly enjoying the variety of my role.

 

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There is now no doubt in my mind that my future will be solidly grounded in research. Hopefully this blog will give me the platform to not only share my experience, but to show students the opportunities that are out there for us all.

 

As a student you are forever told to go out and get some work experience or engage in voluntary work “because it will look fantastic on your C.V. “. Of course it will give you the edge, but there is a more important and more pressing reason that you should consider stepping out of your comfort zone and gaining some work experience. Your journey through higher education and ultimately the career path you subsequently follow is determined by decisions you make – equip yourself the best way you can by learning what it is that you actually enjoy. Work experience is more than gaining an advantage over other graduates – it’s an opportunity to discover your own strengths and find the career path that is right for YOU. Whether your interests lie in psychological research, mental health, counseling or the criminal mind, there are opportunities to suit everybody. You just have to find them.

 

#4 – Experiences of a Psych intern…

 

Data collection is well underway and I’m beginning to get a real taste of what a career in research would entail.

 

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My schedule is getting progressively busier as data collection, data analysis and poster preparation are all in progress, and my organisational skills are truly being put to the test. The process of data collection has been a rewarding, informative and at times even a frustrating experience. I get a certain satisfaction from each and every successful appointment, knowing that the success of the project hinges on gathering reliable data. I can’t help but take it personally when equipment failures interfere with my quest to collect useable data! These technical hitches (although maddening) are part and parcel of the experimental process – particularly when working with a very technologically heavy set-up. However, I’ve found that looking forward, I am no longer fazed at the prospect of conducting future experiments. The knowledge I have gained has given me the confidence in my own troubleshooting abilities and provided me with an incredibly valuable experience. Preliminary data screening also began this week, with training sessions on how to extract the useful data and filter out what we don’t need. As a novice this allows me to observe how the data may be mentally analysed and applied to the topic as the project goes on. For instance, whilst ‘sense’ checking the eye-tracking data Adam Galpin explained how reading the raw data and ‘sense’ checking not only helps avoid errors occurring, but can reveal interesting details about the nature of the information contained in the output. This initial analysis provides a clue as to what variables may be of interest and indicates the direction that analysis may take. These regular meetings with the team allow me to witness the thought processes of the researchers and see how decisions and conclusions are made. This has undoubtedly been the most valuable aspect of my internship. It is here that the true value of my position as an intern becomes glaringly obvious. The beauty of collaborative work is that each contributor brings their owns strengths to the table. I’m extremely lucky to be seated at that table and have the combined knowledge of four researchers as an available resource.

 

 

#5 – The experiences of a Psych intern….

 

 

Focus has now shifted onto extracting, converting and analysing data. All the work of the previous four weeks is culminated into these masses of figures on a spreadsheet. I am still amazed at how individual disposition and behavioural responses can be converted into visible and usable statistics. This is where we discover the direction the analysis will take. In reality, the process of analysis is somewhat different to what is taught during research methods lectures and seminars. I was unaware that the preparation, screening and filtering of data was quite so complex and time-consuming. To give you an indication of the magnitude of this task, for this project the extraction of the eye-tracking data first requires all short fixations to be manually removed, saccade (eye-movement) length and direction need to be calculated, and the position and type and of eye-movement deciphered. This process needs to be completed for each and every experimental trial before we can even begin to extract any meaningful data. So in short, if there are 30 participants and 20 experimental trials…..that means this procedure must be repeated 600 times! Only then can the actual analysis begin.

 

week5

As you can imagine, I’m becoming quite the excel expert!

In addition to extracting eye-tracking data, this week work has started on filtering and analysing the fNIRS brain imaging output. I can’t help but be slightly amused by Rob’s catchphrase of “this is how I do it, but you’ll find your own way”. This is usually the point when I come to the realisation that I am responsible for doing this task on my own. As daunting as this is I am given all the tools and guidance I need, and again, this is where my confidence in my own abilities is beginning to grow. Once I have nailed the actual process I find that it is much easier to understand the concept of the analysis. You see, it’s not just the actual process of hitting the right buttons and learning what goes where, but grasping the theory of why. This is precisely what psych research is about –interpreting the results, identifying possible variables of interest and the application of this information. Thanks to the descriptive manner of the research team not only am I gaining the knowledge of how to conduct ‘real life’ statistical analysis, but I’m quickly learning the theory behind the process.

 

#6 – The experiences of a Psych intern….

 

 

The research poster is finally complete and encompasses all the hard work of the previous few weeks. It’s enormously satisfying to view the finished product and certainly a very proud moment to see my name amongst the other researchers – proof that I have indeed contributed to the composition of the project! The very fact that there have been four other contributors that have been readily available for advice and feedback gives me secure confidence in the content and presentation of the poster. However, although this is reassuring, I must admit that the most stressful element of the entire internship has been my own determination to meet the expectations of the other researchers! All that remains is to present the research poster at the BPS Annual Psychobiology Section Scientific Meeting next week – rest assured, I will let you know how I get on.

Through my time here, I have come to the conclusion that psychological research is often misconstrued and the fear of statistics or the dreaded SPSS tends to put many undergraduate students off pursuing a research career. In truth, statistics only play a small role in a research project – a small role but essential role nonetheless. The basis of any research project is the theoretical reasoning and formation of the research question – stats simply provide you with your indicative result. As a novice you don’t need to be able to recite the ANOVA formula or navigate seamlessly through the SPSS program. You don’t even need to like statistics! What is important however is being able to understand the output, how it applies to your research question and what this means in real life terms.

So my internship has officially come to an end…but they won’t get rid of me that easily. I’ve enjoyed my time here so much and I’m gaining so much knowledge that I’m continuing to work on the project along with the current research team. The opportunity to learn is still very much accessible and I am very thankful that I am still made to feel so welcome. I’m very aware of just how fortunate I have been to have not only have been awarded the BPS psychobiology section internship, but to have such positive and engaging role models as mentors. My time here within the research department has been an educational experience, offering me the chance to expand my knowledge and gain a real taste of the research environment. I’m immensely grateful to the research team (Simon Cassidy, Rob Bendall, Adam Galpin and Lynne Marrow) for finding the perfect balance between supervision, issuing responsibility and allowing me to follow my own initiative. This is undoubtedly what has made this journey such an enriching experience. I must also give a special mention to the rest of the Psychology and Public Health department. It has been an absolute pleasure to work within such a welcoming and sociable environment. Surrounded by the discussion of current projects and exchanging of ideas, my dedication to pursuing a research career has only been reinforced by witnessing the sheer passion and apparent enthusiasm of the entire department. Thank you!

 

#7 – The experiences of a Psych intern….

 

 

A prerequisite of the internship award was that I must attend the Annual BPS Psychobiology Section Annual Scientific meeting and present the findings of the project in the form of a research poster. Although I was eager to stand beside the poster that was a single representation of all the hard work of the previous three months, I do not mind admitting that I did have reservations over my ability to deliver an engaging and coherent account of the research study. Understandably, my apprehension was centered around the potential questioning that may be directed my way. What if I don’t know the answer to a question? Or maybe I wouldn’t even understand the question! My initial fears were quashed once I arrived at the venue, finally found a prominent spot to display my poster and became acquainted with the other attendees. Realistically, after spending a good twelve weeks immersing myself in the research project I found I could find a confident response to any questions fired at me. That being said, all questions were delivered in a positive manner, and were based on genuine interest in the methodology and results of the study. Trust me when I say – nobody is there to publicly humiliate you! It was fantastic to receive such positive feedback and personally a really rewarding experience. I must admit once the poster session was finished (and I’d survived!), it was nice to be able to circulate and discover the varied journeys that had led researchers to the paths they had chosen. It was a great opportunity to steal some valuable hints and tips! The Psychobiology Scientific conference offered a perfect relaxed and friendly introduction into the psychresearch domain, and is one that I look forward to attending again next year. I’d strongly urge others tojoin the BPS and make use of these external events to learn, connect, and above all, build their own confidence.

 

SL

 

Sarah Lambert with Dr Richard Stephens

(Chair of the BPS Psychobiology Section)

s.lambert1@edu.salford.ac.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories
graduate stories graduation learning prizes psych and counselling psych and criminology psychology transition undergraduate

Graduation 2014 – Celebrating the success of our final year students

By Catherine Thompson

Twitter ejpetalGraduation is a very special time of year, when all the hard work finally pays off. As a student you get to breathe a sigh of relief, safe in the knowledge that you have completed your degree and never have to look at SPSS again (unless you want to of course!). Walking across the stage to collect your certificate is a defining moment and really does mark the point where your degree journey ends and a new chapter begins, and you can look to the future knowing that you have already achieved so much. As a family member or friend you get the chance to share in the celebrations of your loved one, and you get a sense of just how much effort they have put into their studies and how much it means to have completed a degree. And as a lecturer you get to see how far each student has progressed– from that first tentative meeting in a research methods seminar when the simple mention of the word “median” led to panicked looks, to a group of confident individuals who are relishing the next challenge.

Twitter salfordpsychThis year we had so much to celebrate – including the fact that the sun came out for graduation (although it sure is hot in a cap and gown!). The students graduating in July 2014 were the largest cohort to have studied Psychology, Psychology and Criminology, and Psychology and Counselling at the University of Salford. This year we delivered our widest ever offering of final year modules (logistically challenging but academically rewarding!). We also witnessed some outstanding achievements from our students, both in terms of assessed work (the quality and creativity of student work was commended by our external examiners) and the success of many students in extra-curricular activities (for example taking part in volunteering work, and completing the Salford Advantage Award). All students who have graduated this year have achieved a great deal, and a special mention must go to our prize winners:

  • British Psychological Society prize for Best Student – Rachel Gribbin (Psychology and Criminology)
  • Best Non-Commissioned Student in the School of Health Sciences – Rachel Gribbin (Psychology and Criminology)
  • Best Psychology Student – Carmen-Florentina Ionita
  • Best Psychology and Counselling Student – Zander Claassen
  • The Endeavour Award – Nikki-Ann Cohen (Psychology)

BSc (Hons) Psychology graduate Danielle Butler has also been shortlisted for the Jonathan Sime Award, an award for dissertation research focused on people-environment issues. Good luck Danielle!

On behalf of the Psychology team I would like to wish all our Graduates every success for the future. Your achievements are well deserved and you are a credit to the University of Salford.

Catherine Thompson
Programme Leader for Psychology and Criminology

twitter staff

 

Categories
Blog higher education learning reflection undergraduate

Get fit with HE: Managing students expectations in Higher Education

By Dr Sharon Coen

 

The changes in Higher Education (HE) have exacerbated some misunderstandings concerning what the University is for, and what students can expect to get from the University experience. Many have claimed that HE is becoming more of a ‘business’ or a paid for ‘service’.

Many in HE find themselves having to face disgruntled students who say they have paid £9000 therefore they expect this or that ‘service’.

Personally, I deeply dislike the idea of HE as a business, but for the sake of argument let’s follow this line of reasoning.

So, if Universities are a business, what sort of business are they? A Grocery, providing food for thought? An airline, with a one way ticket for a successful career? A SPA, full of people there to look after your health and wellbeing?

No. Higher education is a gym.

 

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Higher Education is a gym, you have to put in the effort in order to get results….

We have initial health checks (entry criteria), machines (libraries and infrastructures) personal trainers (lecturers and tutors), personalised programs (courses, optional modules and support material), health-checks (assessments and feedback), ….There are fancy gyms, newly built gyms, gyms equipped with the latest technologies, gyms with saunas and relax areas, gyms renowned for certain activities they offer or for certain – particularly successful – trainers, etc…

But one thing is common to all the gyms (and I know it well, trust me, as I wasted hundreds of pounds on gym memberships): if you do not put the work in, you are not going to build the muscles. You can have the best equipment, the best trainer, the most tailored health check and training plan, but if you do not sweat, there is nothing the gym can do for you.

So, dear students, enrolling in HE you have signed up to a very luxurious and very expensive gym. Of course, people sign up to the gym for different reasons: some just want a place to hang out with their friends, others want to find a romantic partner, others are simply looking for a distractions. In this case, of course, showing up every once in a while with a charming smile and a light attitude would suffice to guarantee your goals are achieved. Yet, others sign up to the gym to improve their body shape, build muscles or lose weight: to be successful in this case, you need to attend your gym, put in the work and the sweat and listen to your trainers’ feedback.

Simply signing up – for how expensive it is – is not a guarantee for success. Hard work is.

 

Categories
Level 6 media psychology postgraduate research undergraduate writing

Qualitative Psychology Dissertations Online

This post originally featured on the Media Psychology UK, the blog for our MSc Media Psychology course at the University of Salford.  

By Jenna Condie

I’m often asked how to structure a qualitative dissertation and I find that seeing other dissertations can help to 1) recognise the structural similarities and writing conventions, and 2) recognise that all dissertations are slightly different and it’s perfectly ok to do your own thing too.  So I recently went on the hunt for some examples of qualitative psychology Masters theses to help MSc Media Psychology students in writing up their qualitative research.

I found a few qualitative psychology Masters theses online (see below) but PhD theses and undergraduate dissertations seem more available electronically (I’ve also included some examples of each below).  Perhaps there is gap for an online hub of Masters projects? If you know of one, I’d love to hear about it.

Masters:

*Found via the University of Edinburgh’s search option for Psychology Masters thesis collection here.

PhDs:

LSE Theses Online and the Open University’s Open Research Online are both fab repositories. Registering for the British Library’s Electronic Thesis Service EThoS is also a must.

Undergraduate dissertations:

  • Foskett, E. (2012) A discourse analysis using feminist strands of thought to analyse advertisements, Download from the MMU Psychology Dissertations Journal here.
  • Walker, S. (2012) “Follow, follow?”: A thematic analysis of how geographical location, social intensity & masculinity are predictors for ‘casting’ nationality with football, Download from the MMU Psychology Dissertations Journal here

Media Psychology:

Whilst searching, I also found a Masters dissertation on social media’s role in branding which applies cultivation theory…might be of interest to our MSc Media Psych students.

Quite a few of the dissertations uploaded to the MMU Psychology Dissertations Journal are also media related.  You can search the Journal here.

Get Writing

It’s great to see how others have conquered the challenges of writing up but there does come a point where you need to stop looking at other people’s work and focus on writing your own work in your own way.  Good luck!

P.S. Don’t forget to adhere to your University’s specific guidance on writing up dissertations and theses too!

Thanks to @DrAClements, @ClareUytman, @ej_odwyer, @spatialsyndave, @drshroyer, @cyberandrew, @marcdonncadh, @paulbyrneuk, @DrSharronH, @GalvinMary, @VickiMcDermott for their retweets and suggestions which informed this post.

Categories
Hong Kong learning psychology undergraduate

Evelyn Chen: Hong Kong student visited Salford this Summer

By Sharon Coen

Sharon and Evelyn
Sharon and Evelyn

Evelyn Chen is a BSc (Hons) Psychology undergraduate with the University of Salford who studies at the Open University of Hong Kong.  Evelyn spent a few weeks here over the summer and I was lucky enough to be her assigned tutor. Evelyn worked with me on developing and pretesting a codebook and coding scheme for some Content Analytical work I am planning to carry out in the near future.

Evelyn has worked extremely well and has had significant input to the project, besides being a very nice person!  Time flew by so quickly and today she will be flying back home.

It has been great getting to know one of our students from Hong Kong and to work with her on this project. Although we are all part of the same programme and social media like LinkedIn and Twitter allow us to be at least virtually connected, I feel much closer now to our programme in Hong Kong and I hope many other students will follow Evelyn’s lead!!!!

Categories
@salfordpsych engaging people psych and criminology twitter undergraduate

Q&A: Catherine Thomas on Curating @salfordpsych

Our @salfordpsych Twitter account has been up and running for a month now.  Last week, BSc (Hons) Psychology and Criminology student Catherine Thomas (a.k.a. @kitty_cat86) took us to a whole new level. She inspired a presentations expert (@viperblueuk) to write a blog post with advice on poster presentations to help Level 5 students with their Social Psychology assignments.  Below, Catherine reflects on what she gained from curating @salfordpsych and how Twitter can be a useful resource for university students.  If you would like to read Catherine’s tweets from the week, they have been archived here on Storify.

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How did you find your week curating the @salfordpsych account?

I loved it – have to admit I was really dreading it at first, mainly because I was worried that if I didn’t do it right I would look like a ‘bad psychology student’. I felt like the spotlight would be on me and didn’t want to look stupid in front of peers and professionals at uni. This was not the case – I was encouraged throughout and loved every minute.

Did previous curator’s tweets shape your approach to tweeting as @salfordpsych?

They gave me an idea of how/what to tweet and reading through their tweets was very encouraging. I think if I had been the first to curate I would have been much more reserved in what I tweeted.

What motivated you to be a part of the initiative?

I was asked to do it, accepted and then the dread arrived 🙂 I knew that anything related to my degree could help me in my studies, and of course I love psychology so that helped.

What did you enjoy about it?

Networking; speaking with other students and professionals. It really helps when you speak with someone who has ‘been there done that’. Up to date studies that were tweeted were great. They help with your studies as well as just being an interesting read.

What surprised me is that in doing this you highlight what areas of psychology you are interested in by what catches your eye and what makes you want to ‘re-tweet’. In my case, looking through my tweets, I tweeted a lot in regards to clinical psychology. It wasn’t until I noticed this that I realised that it must be something that I am really interested in. This made me think further about career paths and further education.

Was there anything you didn’t enjoy?

Honestly, not really. I very much enjoyed the whole week and was gutted when the week was over.

Favourite twitter moment of the week?

When I got responses to questions regarding my assignment, people were so helpful.

Least favourite twitter moment of the week?

None

Which accounts would you recommend to other students?

Anything psychology related really – a lot of accounts tweet up to date studies and such which can really help with your own studies.

How can social media play a role in learning?

It can massively play a role in learning. If nothing else, it brings people together with shared interests who can encourage each other to learn together; people who you would not normally come into contact with.

How can we strengthen a sense of community at Psychology at Salford?

This has been a great tool to strengthen the Psychology community at Salford. Doing this has made me realise just how important it is to speak with other students in different levels of study.

Why do you use Twitter?

I signed up to twitter out of curiosity but now I love it. It’s great as it can enhance all things that we encounter in our lives outside of social networking.

Would you recommend being a curator to other students?

Absolutely. I have already 🙂

Any tips for future curators?

Don’t panic (like I did) about making sure you sound like the perfect psychology student. If you are stuck with something, ask while you are the curator, everyone is happy to help.

What role do you think social media will play in your future?

A huge one. It’s going to get bigger and bigger, and I can’t wait.

What would you like to see @salfordpsych do next?

Continue to encourage students to actively participate in the department. It really helps!
Top tweet of the week


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If you would like to curate @salfordpsych for a week, please get in touch with Jenna Condie on j.m.condie@salford.ac.uk or @jennacondie.

Categories
placement psych and counselling psych and criminology psychology survey undergraduate

The Findings: Psychology Placement Module Questionnaire

By Lorna Paterson

At Psychology at Salford, we are committed to increasing our students’ employability within the graduate marketplace.  A few months ago, many of you completed a questionnaire asking for your feedback about the possibility of a psychology placement module. All your feedback has been considered, summarised and is presented below. Your feedback has been instrumental in establishing a task group to examine the possibility of introducing a placement module in the near future.  Exactly how this may take shape is currently being explored.

Findings from the placement module questionnaire:

An overwhelming 95.5% of respondents (N = 109) were interested in a psychology placement module.  Over two thirds preferred the idea of a block placement rather than a day release model. In regards to which semester the placement module would run, the preference was not clear as all three options (Semester 1, Semester 2, across both semesters) performed about equally.

The most popular placement sectors were; Health and Clinical (88% showed interest), Mental Health (76% showed interest) and Voluntary (76% showed interest). The least popular placement option was an academic internship (45.8% expressed an interest).

Over half of the respondents (56.9%) expressed an interest in completing a placement module over doing a dissertation. However in order to fulfil the requirements for a BPS Accredited Degree Classification, an independent piece of research must be carried out.

What we still need to clarify is 1) How a placement module could be delivered successfully, 2) Health & Clinical options were the most popular however, health psychology and clinical psychology are distinctly different disciplines. We hope to set up a further survey via this blog , to gain further information about your interest in health and clinical placement options. Watch this space for further developments.  .

Finally, a visual, qualitative representation of your open responses has been included below highlighting why a placement module matters to you.

wordle

If you would like to provide further feedback on the possibility of a psychology placement module, please contact Lorna Paterson on l.paterson@salford.ac.uk or Linda Dubrow-Marshall on l.dubrow-marshall@salford.ac.uk.

 

Categories
@salfordpsych community learning psychology twitter undergraduate

Tweeting as @salfordpsych: Q&A with Sophie Coulson

Last week we launched our collaborative Twitter account @salfordpsych.  Every week, a different person tweets for the department – students, lecturers and researchers.  Sophie Coulson, a second year BSc (Hons) Psychology undergraduate, was first up as @salfordpsych and had the account off to a flying start.  Below she reflects on her week and what she hopes @salfordpsych can do for the psychology community at Salford and beyond.  An archive of Sophie’s week as @salfordpsych can be viewed here.

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Q.        How did you find your week curating the @salfordpsych account?

sophcoulsonA.        At first I was a bit intimidated but after the first few hours I absolutely loved my week of tweeting as @salfordpsych. There was so much support and enthusiasm from everyone involved and it was such a buzz to see people retweeting or favouriting something that I had posted.

Q.        What motivated you to be a part of the initiative?

A.        Encouragement from our lecturer, Jenna Condie, but also my belief that we need to communicate more within the university and with others in the world of psychology.  The idea of having someone different tweeting each week is a fantastic one. It brings so many perspectives and promotes input from those who might not usually have a wide or diverse audience.

Q.        What did you enjoy about it?

A.        The part I most enjoyed was researching online to find articles or links that might be interesting to others. I came across such a lot of fascinating information that I wouldn’t usually make the effort to find.

Q.        Was there anything you didn’t enjoy?

A.        I should probably lie about this to avoid sounding incredibly sad but I got a bit addicted, so the least enjoyable times were those when I couldn’t get online.

Q.        Favourite twitter moment(s) of the week?

A.        Every time someone retweeted something I had posted I felt irrationally pleased! Knowing that someone out there liked or valued the information was very rewarding.

Q.        Least favourite twitter moment of the week?

A.        I followed a few people who I thought would like to be involved but they didn’t follow back. That was a bit disheartening.

Q.        How can social media play a role in learning?

A.        I believe social media opens up so many possibilities. It’s a way of discovering things that may not have even occurred to you before. Questions can be asked and immediate responses received from people who never would have been accessible before social media. It removes or at least lowers the boundaries of location, education, class and age.

Q.        Why do you use Twitter?

A.        I haven’t personally tweeted much because, to be honest, I don’t feel anyone would be interested. However, in my part time work with the university’s Student Life service, I tweet a lot, mainly to provide others with information. I suppose I see it as a more professional than sociable way of communicating.

Q.        Would you recommend being a curator to other students?

A.        Definitely!! Apart from the obvious benefit of social media management looking good on your CV, it’s fun! It’s also a bit of a self-confidence boost and is a great way of discovering aspects of psychology that you may not usually give priority to.

Q.        Any tips for future curators?

A.        I know it’s a cliché but just be yourself.  That’s the whole idea. Different personalities, perspectives, styles and interests are what this is about. I’m really looking forward to reading tweets of all future curators.

Q.        What would you like to see @salfordpsych do next?

A.        I would love to see @salfordpsych grow and inspire other university groups to create similar accounts. I particularly like the idea of researchers, lecturers and students working and communicating together. Often they are so remote from each other and divided by position. I think @salfordpsych could also be used to build more links with the Salford community, creating opportunities for students, staff and residents.

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Thank you Sophie for an excellent first week on Twitter. Sophie passed the tweet-baton to Hannah Smith, who is currently tweeting as @salfordpsych about what it is like to be the final year of her BSc (Hons) Psychology and Counselling.  Check it out here.

If you would like to curate the @salfordpsych account, please get in touch with Jenna Condie on j.m.condie@salford.ac.uk.  A rota of upcoming weeks is available here.  Also, there is more information about our Twitter collaboration on the ‘we are all @salfordpsych’ page.

 

Categories
events facilities learning taster event teaching undergraduate

Psychology Taster Event 2013 Reviewed

mary seacole

By Jenna Condie

Last week, we welcomed applicants who currently hold an offer to study one of our psychology undergraduate courses (starting September 2013) to a Psychology Taster Event.  The idea of the day was to help applicants make their decisions about which university to go to and which course to embark on.  Hopefully our Taster Event gave applicants a better insight into the areas of psychology that they would cover at degree level and our interactive approach to teaching psychology here at Salford.

Attendees were welcomed in our main lecture theatre by Anne Pearson, our Admissions Tutor for all Salford Psychology undergraduate courses.  Next up was a taster lecture with Dr Ashley Weinberg who introduced attendees to the area of emotional intelligence, an area of psychology we specialise in at Salford.  Tweets from the University’s press office relating to Ashley’s talk are below.

tweets EI

After the taster lecture, attendees were invited to a number of demonstrations in the Psychology department.  Ruth Laidler, a psychology tutor and PhD researcher, introduced attendees to Developmental Psychology and child development with a video demonstration.  She introduced attendees to Jean Piaget’s work and a Piagetian style task called Conservation.  Students were informed that they would study developmental psychology in their first and second years as it is a core area specified by the BPS accreditation. Also, should they want to do so, students can take an option module in Educational Psychology in the final year of their study.

Lecturers Dr Lynne Marrow and Janine Crosbie had a number of Biological Psychology demonstrations for attendees to try out.  Our guests participated in a number of activities from measuring their Galvanic Skin Response to examining visual illusions.  The handout Lynne and Janine created for the event is below.

Introducing biological psychology handout from SalfordPsych

In our psychology computer suite Dr Adam Galpin introduced students to Cognitive Psychology. Adam first demonstrated how little of the world people pay attention to by showing how we can miss things changing in front of our eyes (“change blindness”). He then described one of the projects our students get stuck into to test their own hypotheses about change blindness. The applicants also came up with great ideas for further experiments, so we’ll look forward to testing them when they arrive!

There was a mental health talk with Dr Linda Dubrow-Marshall and a final year student Ashley Carrick, which provided the opportunity for interesting and important debates around mental health and well-being.  Attendees also participated in a true or false quiz on mental health.  Here’s one of the questions:

Among teenagers, the rates of depression have increased by how much over the past 25 years? 

  • 18%
  • 35%
  • 70%

What do you think? (the correct answer is at the end of this post).

Dr Ashley Weinberg returned to demonstrate the kinds of social psychological experiments that are possible in our observation suite which has a two-way mirror.  In CSI style, our guests observed two people and tried to work out whether they were telling the truth by interpreting their non-verbal communication.  This demonstration highlighted some of the challenges of understanding people and social behaviour.

tweets observation

The day closed with refreshments and the opportunity for attendees to get to know one another and ask staff and current students any questions.  We would like to thank our students – Sophie Coulson, Hannah Smith, Ashley Carrick, Rhona Robinson and Nicol Herta – for welcoming prospective students to Psychology at Salford.  We would also like to thank attendees who completed our feedback form too.  It is great to know that they enjoyed the day and the welcoming atmosphere. We now know that attendees would have liked a little more time in each of the demonstrations.  We will definitely make sure that happens in future Taster Events.

On that note, we will be organising more Psychology Taster Events in the future. In the meantime, we also have an Open Lecture Series starting this week on the 5th March 2013.  The open lectures are all first year psychology lectures where you can attend with current Salford psychology students and experience university study and campus life.

If you have any questions, would like to attend one of our events, or would like information about our courses, please contact Anne Pearson (Admissions Tutor) on a.pearson1@salford.ac.uk

Answer: 70% – Source: Time to Change

Categories
learning Level 6 psychology labs research research participant SONA undergraduate

The Benefits of Being a Research Participant

BSc (Hons) Psychology and Criminology student
Nichola Burns, BSc (Hons) Psychology and Criminology student

This post is from Nichola Burns, a third year undergraduate BSc (Hons) Psychology and Criminology student at Salford.  In this post, Nichola reflects on her time as an undergraduate and the benefits of participating in research during her studies.

The Benefits of being a Research Participant

When you enter your psychology degree, research designs and methods will not be as familiar to you as they are when you leave.  One sure fire way to gain an in-depth knowledge of research is to participate in research that is being carried out in the university.  The psychology department uses a system called SONA, which is software that enables you to create experiments and take part in research.  On SONA, you are given some information before you apply to participate.   SONA also means that you can experience a range of different studies in order to gain a deeper understanding of psychology.   You can also choose to take part in experiments from one area of psychology.  We all have a dissertation to think about and prepare for, and participating in studies in your chosen area can fill you with ideas.  Also in psychology, you can take part in research that is going on in the psychology department whether this is quantitative, qualitative or mixed methods.

For me, participating in research offers the following advantages: 

  • You get to keep information sheets which you can use to inform your future research assignments.
  • You get to see the questions typically asked on consent forms and possible variables.
  • Participating in experiments helps bring to life the journal papers you will be reading, and adds strength to all your assignments.
  • When filling out other people’s questionnaires, electronic or hard copy, you really get a sense of how much you are willing to complete them. 
  • You can gain an understanding of how to compile surveys for testing new concepts and bringing together two or more concepts.
  • You can gain knowledge of the strengths and limitations of research methods.
  • Being tested on offers insight into your thoughts as a participant. This means you may be more able to anticipate what participants will be thinking when running your own experiments. 
  • When you get to the 3rd year, you will be better prepared to keep participants’ attention and attain quality data. 
  • The Psychology labs are full of equipment that can be used for testing.  You can get a feel for what is really possible when participating in the lab.
  • You can get to see how researchers are adding new equipment or adapting older pieces to current studies. You can see what others are testing and the innovations they perform in testing.
  • Again you get to see the limitations, adaptations and complexities of lab testing first hand.
  • When using this equipment in your dissertation you will be able to understand what it feels like, how it affects performance and if it is compatible with your dissertation study.
  • You can gain a better understanding of participant bias.

Your aim is to have the best knowledge you can gain for your dissertation and one of the best ways to achieve this goal is to become a participant.  Afterwards, you can ask the researcher questions be it methodology, the effect they are testing for, or other papers in the subject area. I am sure they will not mind, everyone answered my questions!    This knowledge adds to your ability to carry out research that is interesting, fun and worthwhile.”

If you have any questions about this post, you can contact Nichola by email: n.burns@edu.salford.ac.uk

Categories
events open day undergraduate

Our November Open Day

This post is from Anne Pearson, Lecturer in Psychology at Salford.  Anne is the Undergraduate Admissions Tutor and Programme Leader for BSc (Hons) Psychology and Counselling.  Below she reflects on our most recent Open Day and offers some advice to prospective students about what to include in their personal statements when applying for courses.

Anne Pearson and Lorna Paterson chat with prospective students at Open Day

“Our recent Open Day attracted visitors from as far away as Cornwall to see and hear about the opportunities Psychology at Salford offers undergraduates.  As admissions tutor I gave a presentation to prospective students and their families about the details of our Psychology programmes at Salford (please see Salford’s Coursefinder for further details), as well as tips on what to include in a winning personal statement for university applications.  Naturally enthusiasm for Psychology is important and it’s important for applicants to demonstrate this by writing about things they have done which show their commitment to the subject, whether it’s through reading about or utilising psychological concepts.  Visitors also toured our facilities and participated in a Stroop experiment hosted by Dr Catherine Thompson in the Psychology computer suite.

If you haven’t been to see us and would like to, please get in touch (contact details here).  For sixth forms in the Greater Manchester area we are also happy to arrange bespoke visits for groups of students wanted to study for a degree on our single and joint honours Psychology programmes. We look forward to meeting you!”