Are you intrigued to find out more about how the Digital World that surrounds all of us might be influencing you? The Psychology Department is excited to be hosting an ESRC Festival of Social Science event ‘Digital World and Me’ on the evening of the 7th November.
There will be three short TED-style talks in which you will discover cutting edge research about the internet, television and gaming. These will be followed by refreshments and a range of interactive demonstrations in which you can find out more about the way that you interact with the digital world and the impact that it may be having on you.
Thursday 7th November, 18.30 – 20.30, Beacon Building, Staffordshire University
Dr Rachel Povey(Associate Professor of Health Psychology, Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research) has some FREE Resource Packs to give away which she has designed to help practice nurses to motivate their patients with type 2 diabetes to make dietary changes. The resource packs are based on Rachel’s research funded by the European Association for the Study of Diabetes with GlaxoSmithKline which explored the beliefs of people with type 2 diabetes about healthy eating. The packs were informed by studies with both patients and nurses and include nine useful resources which have been designed specifically so that they can be copied and given out to patients.
The Resource Pack that Rachel has developed consists of a number of psychological “tools” including resources which help patients in “weighing up the pros and cons” of eating more healthily, “estimating portion sizes”, “planning changes” and “useful techniques for keeping motivated”. Alongside the resources is a useful practical guide with suggestions and techniques for encouraging patients to make dietary changes from motivating change to making and maintaining the changes.
The Resource Pack has been used as the basis of a very successful training programme for practice nurses, and we are delighted to be able to give some away for FREE!
Feedback from practitioners who have used this resource include:
“The resources will be very useful for patients. Clear advice for them …very useful for me when talking to patients”.
“Just to let you know have seen 3 people with diabetes since Wednesday and we have used the tools and set realistic goals in dietary change”.
Dr Rob Dempsey (Senior Lecturer in Psychology & Mental Health, Course Leader – MSc Foundations of Clinical Psychology) took part in June 2019’s‘I’m a Scientist, Get Me Out of Here!’public engagement event for schools and colleges. ‘I’m a Scientist’ is a two-week long online event where scientists working in a variety of fields answer a variety of questions posed to them by students in primary and secondary school through to 6th form. Students and scientists discuss topics in a series of online chats, with students also able to post questions online for scientists to answer.
Dr Dempsey took part in the British Psychological Society sponsored Mental Health Zone in June 2019 and was one of six psychologists working in mental health-related fields who took part in a number of live online chats over a two week period. The second week of the contest takes the form of an X-Factor style knock-out competition, where the scientist with the fewest number of student votes is eliminated each day with the victor announced at the end of the week. In a close contest, Dr Dempsey received the highest number of nominations and was crowned winner of the Mental Health Zone:
I was delighted to win I’m a Scientist’s Mental Health Zone, especially as this is based on nominations from students we chatted to over a two week period. The event is a great way for students of various ages to interact with scientists working in various fields and have their questions answered about our research and work in Mental Health. I hope that we managed to inspire some of the students to pursue careers working in Mental Health, and personally I hope that some will consider studying Psychology at A-Level and Degree level and pursuing careers in Psychology and Mental Health
Dr Rob Dempsey, Senior Lecturer in Psychology & Mental Health
Dr Dempsey wins a prize of £500 to spend on public engagement activities and is planning on producing a free video resource with supporting materials for use by high school and college teachers – the aim being to highlight why psychological approaches to understanding mental health-related issues are needed and how students can pursue careers in this area. Dr Dempsey conducts research focusing on understanding the psychological pathways implicated in the experience of common mental health-related complaints, and is hoping that this resource will help others to pursue similar careers in this area.
The Department of Psychology held its Annual Psychology Student Conference in April 2019 where our final year students presented the findings from their research projects. Our students gave either an oral or a poster presentation to their peers and an audience of academic staff, including their project supervisors.
A wide variety of research topics were presented by our students, including studies investigating the role of Youtube videos in conspiracy theory beliefs, the relationship between dark personality traits and students’ academic stress levels, the effects of children’s screen time on creativity, how viewing virtual reality environments influences pain, the ‘weapons focus’ effect, the relationship between personality traits and mate poaching behaviours, amongst others.
Highlights from this year’s Annual Psychology Student Conference can be viewed via the below video:
Dr Dempsey will be taking part in the Mental Health Zone of the ‘I’m a Scientist, Get me out of here!’ event in June 2019 with the zone sponsored by the British Psychological Society. Dr Dempsey is an experienced mental health researcher working on a variety of studies into mental health and wellbeing, including work understanding the experience of chronic ill-health and the psychological pathways implicated in suicidality.
The Complete University Guide is a national league table where universities and subject areas are ranked according to their performance across a number of measures, including: entry standards; student satisfaction; research quality; and graduate employability.
“In the recently released league table, Staffordshire’s Psychology Department has moved up 25 places in the Complete University Guide. This is our highest ever position in this particular league table, and we are delighted that we have been ranked as joint fourth in the country for student satisfaction. This acknowledges the work that our staff put into making sure students are at the heart of everything we do, and responsive to student feedback, and shows that our students are #proudtobestaffs”
“We are delighted with Psychology’s rise in the CUG League Table. This follows the positive responses to student feedback, and is a reflection of the staff team’s commitment to students and the continual improvement of their experience”
By Dina Grinsted, Schools & Colleges Champion for Psychology
In June 2018, Staffordshire University welcomed the Big Bang West Midlands for the first time, celebrating STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Maths) subjects. Over 2000 students and teachers visited the campus throughout the day, and enjoyed a wide variety of STEAM activities, including nine psychology stands!
Ahead of the return of the Big Bang Fair to Staffordshire University in 2019, here is a brief review of the Department of Psychology’s presence at the 2018 fair:
The ‘Virtual Reality in Psychology’ stand allowed visitors to experience dinosaurs in VR, and learn about how we can use virtual environments in psychology. This was a very popular stand, with many people trying out the dinosaur experience! Guests also had the chance to test their memory, and learnt how to improve it through techniques such as the Method of Loci and mnemonics on our Memory Test stand.
The event was a great success, with a huge number of visitors taking part and enjoying the activities. Staffordshire University has been confirmed as the home for the 2019 event, which will take place on Tuesday 18th June 2019. Come along to find out about all things STEM, including Psychology activities. Book your free visit here.
On the ‘Detecting Stress Responses’ stand, guests were connected to a BioPac, and had their Galvanic Skin Response tested whilst doing moderately stressful activities. This measures the level of sweat on the fingertips as an indicator of stress, so the aim was to attempt to keep your stress levels down.
One student advocate who helped to run this stand said
“I was particularly happy to see so many young girls expressing enthusiasm and engagement with some of the scientific principles that we were demonstrating to them on the Detecting Stress Responses stand. Great to see that STEM engagement with girls is improving.”
What has the length of time it takes to queue up for a jacket potato got to do with taking breaks at work? For some people, it turns out that it’s a handy way to explain to their colleagues why they’re “late” back from lunch. And by “late”, I don’t mean “late”. All they’ve done is taken a bit longer than they feel comfortable in taking for their lunch break.
How have we got to the point where some people feel guilty about taking their legally allowable break?
Taking a break is good for your health isn’t it? So taking breaks is just common sense isn’t it? It’s certainly not common practice. At the place I work, our latest staff survey told us that 42% of our workforce, either don’t take a lunch break at all or take less than the legally required minimum time of 20 minutes. (Yes, that’s right – it is the law for your employer to allow most workers to take a 20 minute, uninterrupted break, at some point during the day). There appears to be a growing trend nationally for large numbers of people not to take breaks at work, with surveys reporting that between 66% and 82% of workers do not always take their breaks (Bupa, 2015; Mastercard/Ipsos Mori, 2016).
In my research into the psychological and social benefits of taking breaks during the working day (in office settings), I uncovered an amazing set of thoughts and behaviours linked to taking breaks (or not) during the working day. As well as review and meta-analysis of literature in the field, I was curious to find out how people thought about taking breaks. Putting it simply, I asked groups of office workers at a large employer, the following, deeply insightful, questions:
“Do you take your lunch breaks?”
“Why?” Or: “Why not?”
Using a combination of my curiosity and a structured way of analysing what people said, I found that:
Lots of people feel anxious and guilty about taking breaks
Work “wins”. Faced with a choice when they’re really busy, even if someone wants to take a break, then work “wins”
If you’ve got a great set of colleagues who all want to take lunch breaks, then guess what… you’ll take your breaks! And if you don’t have a great set of colleagues, then guess what…?
If you choose to take your break at your desk, then people acknowledge that they are “fair game” for being given work to do!
It’s not as simple as 2 groups emerging (those who do, and those who don’t take breaks) – people move from group to group depending on lots of situational factors
I’m now trying to work with these themes to look for ways to change the culture to one where people at least feel more comfortable to take a break if they want to. Clearly, if you have a job, the culture at your workplace will almost certainly be different to the one where I work, but perhaps, this blog might make you think a bit differently. Go on, stop reading this, move away from your screen… and take a break!
Mike will be sharing more about his research into the consequences of taking breaks (or not) during the working day at Psychologist in the Pub on Wednesday 1st May at The Glebe in Stoke.
The Department of Psychology recently hosted the Psychology Teacher Forum, an event aimed at psychology teachers in the West Midlands and surrounding areas. The aim of the Forum was to create a networking opportunity for teachers working in Further Education, alongside workshops focussed on teaching some of the core areas of psychology led by subject specialists at the University.
The Psychology Department welcomed 23 delegates who teach psychology on a range of different qualifications (e.g., A Levels, BTEC and Access courses). Judy David opened the event with a brief history of the Psychology Department at Staffs before Mel Hall delivered the first workshop where top tips and ideas for teaching Research Methods were shared, including happy and sad graphs!
Our Psychology technicians, Paul and Sarah, then led a tour of the Department facilities with an opportunity for delegates to take part in some demonstrations of our specialist equipment, such as the pain lab cold pressor tank.
Dr Jade Elliott then delivered a session on biological psychology, demonstrating interactive activities such as the 3-D brain app and the Wisconsin Sorting Task.
After a bit of light refreshment and networking supported by current PhD student Tanya Schrader, the final workshop covered courses and careers in Psychology delivered by Dr Claire Barlow and Dr Heather Semper.
We received some really positive feedback after the event, one attendee commented:
“thank you to all of the academic and support staff who made yesterday’s Teacher Forum such a wonderful event. My team and I all left with some brilliant ideas and we were so impressed with the facilities and knowledge of both the staff and technicians. We are now looking into bringing our students along to see how much is on offer locally for L3 provision and beyond”
Dr Claire Barlow was involved in the organisation of the event alongside Dina Grinsted (Schools & College Champion for Psychology), Claire commented:
“it was great to welcome so many fellow teachers of Psychology to the Department. One of the most positive aspects was the sharing of our experiences of teaching this fascinating subject area as well as the connections we have made. We hope to build on this event and create further opportunities to work together in the future”