For the Educational Psychology module in the final year of our undergraduate programmes, students are required to think like an educator and produce a seminar proposal for teachers on a selected topic from the field of Educational Psychology. Last year we decided to showcase students’ work for the module (see here). The post was very popular so we’ve decided to do it again.
Carmen-Florentina Ionita, BSc (Hons) Psychology graduate (and winner of Best Psychology Student 2014), developed a seminar proposal for teachers on the socio-emotional development of gifted and talented children. Carmen is now studying her MSc in Neuroimaging for Clinical and Cognitive Neurosciences at the University of Manchester and kindly agreed for her Educational Psychology work to be showcased on our blog (see below).
Educational Psychology can be “…loosely defined here as the application of psychological theories, research and techniques to the educational development of young people in the context of the home, school and community” Holliman (2013, p. xxii). More broadly, educational psychology also considers how people of all ages learn, how teaching and learning practice can be improved, whether different people should be taught differently, and how learning can transform the person and impact upon their lives. The Educational Psychology module assignment focuses on the application of theory to teaching practice.
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.
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
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.
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.
In the final year of our undergraduate programmes (BSc Hons Psychology, BSc Hons Psychology and Counselling, BSc Hons Psychology and Criminology), one of the option modules that students can chose to take is Educational Psychology. Educational Psychology can be “…loosely defined here as the application of psychological theories, research and techniques to the educational development of young people in the context of the home, school and community” Holliman (2013, p. xxii). More broadly, educational psychology also considers how people can learn better, how teaching and learning practice can be improved, whether different people should be taught differently, and how learning can transform the person and impact upon their lives.
For the assessment, students taking this module propose a seminar for teachers, selecting a topic from the field of educational psychology that they consider is both current and of practical use in the training of teachers. The emphasis is on the application of theory to teaching practice. Last year, BSc (Hons) Psychology and Counselling student (now graduate!), Jessica Tomes created a seminar for teachers that focused on mental health stigma and how teachers can educate students to reduce the stigma associated with mental health issues in the school environment. You can read her work below.
“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: firstname.lastname@example.org
This post is from Dr Linda Dubrow-Marshall, a Lecturer in Psychology at Salford. Linda is a clinical and counselling psychologist (HCPC Registered) and a BACP Accredited Counsellor/Psychotherapist. Below she reflects on teaching Level 6 (Year 3) undergraduates who are taking a module called The Psychology of Mental Health. The session was on Psychosis and Schizophrenia. If you participated in the session, Linda would really like your feedback.
“My goal in contributing to the teaching of The Psychology of Mental Health is to help students to develop a personal framework to understand serious mental illness that is humanistic and compassionate. I had previously taught a lecture on “Mood Disorders” where I showed a DVD in which Stephen Fry interviewed several well-known people with mood disorders. The students seemed to appreciate the DVD as it extended their understanding of the facts about mood disorders to a more personal appreciation of what it is like for someone to live with a mood disorder. I took that feedback on board in planning my lecture on ”Psychosis and Schizophrenia”, and decided that even better than a DVD would be to bring in a service user and carer for part of the session, which I did.
Also, as part of my participation in the PGCAP (Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice) programme, I participated in a mixed-reality game with the other PGCap students to explore teaching and learning directly linked to our practice. The goal was to come up with innovative ideas to enhance a specific teaching and learning situation. I worked with a partner, Robert Purvis, who really helped me to develop my idea of using plasters to have people experience the painful experience of having a sticky label. Robert gave me the idea to write specific diagnoses on the plasters. Robert and I won the prize for the best collaborative ideas – the web page about the competition is available here.
On the 5th of November, I piloted this idea by trying it at the beginning of my lecture on “Psychosis and “Schizophrenia”. I noticed that the class had already been divided into learning sets, so I asked them to try an experiential learning exercise in these groups. I asked them to pick a plaster from the envelope and put it on their wrist, read the diagnosis, and reflect on what their life might be like if they had been given that diagnosis. They could consider it from the viewpoint that it was a new diagnosis that they just found out about and didn’t even understand, or something that they had for awhile. They were then to introduce themselves to their learning set as follows: “Hi, my name is ____, I am a ____, and let me tell you a little bit about my life…” I asked them to reflect on the experience, share with each other, and have a representative give a brief report to the larger group, leading to a group reflection. One of the things which I found interesting was that the learning sets had been communicating with each other via email and did not necessarily even know what the people in their learning set looked like. I enjoyed everyone’s participation and feedback. One person put the label on their clothing because it would hurt to put it on their skin – part of my point about labels hurting. People felt confused by their diagnoses and did not know what they meant. Some people felt very shy because they suddenly had this label and did not want to talk about it. The paranoid people did not feel they trusted the group in order to talk about it, demonstrating that they were really getting into the role.
I would very much appreciate feedback from students in general about the plaster exercise, and especially from those students who participated. I would also be grateful for feedback about incorporating service users and carers into the lecture. My PGCAP tutor recorded part of this exercise, and if students want to give their permission for their recordings to be put on the blog, please email email@example.com to give permission for this.”
You can also listen to Linda and Robert pitch their collaborative ideas for teaching and learning below.