Pack away (some of) the Christmas toys!

Did your child get lots of toys for Christmas? Are you struggling to find places to store them all?

Dr Sarah Rose, Director of the Psychology Children’s Lab at Staffordshire University reports on some new research suggesting that having fewer toys may actually be better!

Researchers at the University of Toledo in Ohio gave 36 toddlers either 4 or 16 toys to play with for a 30-minute period. Their play was observed and analysed for indicators of play quality. It was concluded that when fewer toys were present children spent longer playing with each toy, showed better concentration, and were more creative as they expanded and developed their play ideas.

This study is a useful reminder to parents, and anyone working with children, that toddlers are easily distracted. Toddlers are developing their ability to focus their attention and steps that can be taken to support this are likely to have long term positive consequences. Attention is vital for academic success and young children with better attentional skills maintain this advantage as they get older.

Not only was having fewer toys found to beneficial to helping toddlers to sustain their attention it also encouraged them to explore and be more creative with the toys. Creativity is another skill that is developed in early childhood and as associated with many positive attributes such as educational achievement, well-being and success at work.

This evidence supports the idea of toy rotation. This involves small collections of toys being rotated into play while the majority are stored away. This provides opportunities for developing sustained attention and creativity while still providing children with novel and varied play experiences.

Further research in this area is needed, particularly relating to play in the home environment, where there are often additional distractions such as background Television and other screen media. The impact of screen time on children’s developing creativity is a topic that we are investigating within our Psychology Children’s Lab. If you are a parent of a 3 to 8 year old child please do consider taking part in our online survey – further details can be found here.

Dr Sarah Rose was also featured in The Sentinel newspaper providing commentary on this recent research finding (click here to read the full story).


The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology at the University’s £30 million Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent.

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details and to book your place at an open day please click here.

For more information about the Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit the below pages:

Dr Sarah Rose comments on children’s fussy eating for The Sentinel

Dr Sarah Rose

Dr Sarah Rose (Lecturer in Psychology & Director of the Children’s Lab at Staffordshire University) was featured in The Sentinel Newspaper commenting on a news story about children’s fussy eating behaviours and how to encourage children to eat a variety of foods.

Read the story in full via the Stoke/Staffordshire Sentinel website:

The Sentinel: Here’s what to do if your child is a fussy eater

Dr Sarah Rose is a researcher in Developmental Psychology and Course Leader for Staffordshire University’s BSc (Hons) Psychology & Child Development degree.


The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology at the University’s £30 million Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent.

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details and to book your place at an open day please click here.

For more information about the Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit the below pages:

BPS Funded Summer Research Project – Divergent thinking & pretend play in pre-schoolers; Is the relationship reciprocal?

Earlier in the summer we reported that we were delighted to have been two British Psychological Society Undergraduate Research Assistantship Scheme. Both projects have now been successfully completed and Ruth Pettitt, current Level 6 Psychology and Child Development student, reflects on her experience of working with Dr. Sarah Rose.

Ruth writes ‘I have thoroughly enjoyed working on the project throughout the summer. I was very apprehensive at the start, and wondered whether I was up to the task ahead. There were lots of “highs” and certainly a few “lows”, but I had lots of support and reassurance from my supervisor, Dr Sarah Rose confirming that this was completely normal when conducting research, especially with 4 year olds!’

‘My previous experiences of working with children certainly came in useful when collecting the data, you have to expect the unexpected at all times! Despite the timing of the project (just when all nursery children are about to leave, ready to start school!), we reached our target of 58 participants all between the age of 4 years 3 months and 4 years 9 months. Completing the project required perseverance and determination and there were many unexpected challenges to overcome. I had to be organised and manage the workload carefully, as it varied enormously from week to week. Despite Sarah being available throughout, the research frequently required me to work independently which gave me a real experience of the research culture. It was an invaluable experience that I can look back on and draw from in the future, and it has inspired an increased enthusiasm to be a future academic. I’ve gained a lot of practical experience, together with research knowledge far beyond that which I have already learned within my degree. This opportunity has certainly given me an increased confidence and I now feel better equipped to tackle my research project in Level 6.’

Ruth Pettit & Dr Sarah Rose

Dr. Sarah Rose says that ‘Working with Ruth has been an absolute joy. Research with young children always involves some highs and lows and problem solving is certainly a skill required when working in this area. Ruth has demonstrated her ability to think on her feet to make sure that the children taking part in the research had a positive experience while following the pre-planned experimental procedure. Together we have carried out novel research investigating the relationship between children’s play and creative thinking. We look forward to sharing our findings at conferences and through a peer-reviewed journal article.’

Current Staffordshire University Psychology students interested in gaining experience conducting research with young children can get involved with one of Dr. Sarah Rose’s ongoing projects by contacting her.


The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology at the University’s £30 million Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent.

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details and to book your place at an open day please click here.

For more information about the Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit the below pages:

Explore With Us 2017: Teaching research methods the fun way

Do you teach Psychology in Further Education?  Want to teach research the fun way?

The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University are delighted to have been awarded funding by the ESRC to hold an event for teachers of psychology during the Festival of Social Sciences.

Teachers are being invited to attend Staffordshire University on Wednesday 8th November 2017 to explore with us how teaching research methods can be fun and effective. “Teaching research the fun way” is designed for A-Level Psychology teachers but will be relevant to anyone teaching Psychology in an FE setting.

During the event there will be short talks on maths anxiety, giving effective student feedback and engaging in students with research methods, followed by an opportunity to get involved with some hands-on demos of equipment used by psychology researchers. This will include measuring brainwaves with EEG testing, assessing visual attention with eye tracking and a driving simulator, which tests how good your reactions are behind the wheel. Refreshments, time for networking and questions and answers are also included.

The event is free to attend for FE psychology teachers and each attendee will be able to claim £10 to cover their travel to the event.

For more information about this event, including booking a place please click here.

Queries about the event can be directed to: psychologyevents@staffs.ac.uk


The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology at the University’s £30 million Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent.

 

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details and to book your place at an open day please click here.

For more information about the Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit the below pages:

Dr Sarah Rose featured in a Q&A with the Parenting Science Gang on Children’s TV viewing and creativity

Dr Sarah Rose

Dr Sarah Rose (Lecturer in Psychology & Director of the Children’s Lab at Staffordshire University) was featured in a live Question and Answer web chat with the Parenting Science Gang, a parent-led citizen science project funded by the Wellcome Trust.

Dr Rose discussed her research into the effects of viewing TV on children’s creativity, including the development of novel ways of measuring children’s creative thinking through play-based tasks and her work into children’s drawings.

Read Dr Rose’s interview via the Parenting Science Gang’s website (click here).

Dr Rose is also the Course Leader for Staffordshire University’s BSc (Hons) Psychology and Child Development degree, one of only a hand of such degrees in the country.


Interested in Psychology? Thinking about a Psychology degree?

Come to an Open Day & find out more about Psychology courses at Staffordshire University.

Book your place via: www.staffs.ac.uk/openyourmind/

Find out about our Psychology degrees, including our highly rated BSc Psychology & Child Development degree and our Undergraduate courses and Postgraduate awards.

Two prestigious BPS Undergraduate Research Assistantships awarded to the Staffordshire Psychology Department

The Department of Psychology is delighted to have been awarded funds through the British Psychological Society Undergraduate Research Assistantship Scheme. The scheme is a prestigious award that marks out a student as a future researcher and potential academic.

The BPS Research Assistantship Scheme is highly competitive, so the Department is proud to be successful in being awarded two Assistantships to Dr Daniel Jolley and Dr Sarah Rose.

Dr Daniel Jolley

Dr Daniel Jolley, Lecturer in Psychology, has been awarded an Assistantship where our current Level 5 student Tanya Schrader will be working on a project examining conspiracy theories. Tanya has said:

“I am delighted to be included in the 2017 BPS Research Assistantship Scheme. This exciting opportunity will afford me invaluable research experience which I will apply to my future career. Thank you to the BPS, Staffordshire University and Dr Daniel Jolley for the support.”

Dr Sarah Rose

Dr Sarah Rose, Lecturer in Psychology and Director of Staffordshire University’s Children’s Lab, will be working with Ruth Pettitt, a current Level 5 student to investigate whether there is a reciprocal relationship between play and creativity in preschool aged children. Ruth has said:

“I am absolutely thrilled to be given this unique opportunity and very proud that I am considered both capable and worthy of the trust and support of Dr. Sarah Rose, Staffordshire University and the BPS. I will thoroughly enjoy immersing myself into the project and I am looking forward to my journey of learning over the summer.”

The two Staffordshire undergraduate students will be provided with the fantastic opportunity to gain ‘hands-on’ experience of research during the summer vacation. Dr Emily Buckley, Head of the Department of Psychology, provided a little more background on the awards:

“The assistantships will enable the students to gain an insight into scientific research, to develop their potential and to encourage them to consider an academic career within psychology.  We are very much looking forward to working with them.”

We wish both students the best of luck in their Summer Research Assistantships!


The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology at the University’s £30 million Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent.

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details, and to book your place at an open day, please visit: http://www.staffs.ac.uk/openyourmind/

For more information about the Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit the below pages:

Is competitive (or ‘pushy’) parenting good for children? Dr Sarah Rose discusses on BBC Radio Stoke

Dr Sarah Rose (Lecturer in Psychology, Award Leader for the BSc (Hons) Psychology & Child Development) was featured on BBC Radio Stoke’s Sunday Morning Breakfast show discussing recent debates about competitive (or ‘pushy’) parenting and the effects on children’s development. Dr Rose discusses some of the psychological theory behind parenting styles which encourage competitive behaviour and whether this is beneficial for child development.

Listen to Sarah’s interview on the BBC iPlayer via the below link (from 1 hour, 8 mins in):

BBC Radio Stoke: Maxine Mallen (Sunday Breakfast Show, 7th May 2017)

Dr Rose directs the Children’s Lab which is part of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research. The Children’s Lab is home to research in Developmental Psychology at Staffordshire University. Research conducted at the Lab informs teaching on our Undergraduate Psychology courses, including our BSc (Hons) Psychology & Child Development degree.


Interested in Psychology? Come to an Open Day & find Staffs-Uni-Hi-Res_45-1024x683out more about Psychology courses at Staffordshire University.

Thinking about taking a Psychology degree or a related course? Come to one of Staffordshire University’s Open Days and find out more! Book your place via: www.staffs.ac.uk/openyourmind/

Find out about our Psychology degrees, including our highly rated BSc Psychology & Child Development degree and our Undergraduate courses and Postgraduate awards.

Student Blog: “Help! My child’s a neophobe!”

Dr Sarah Rose (Lecturer in Psychology & Director of the Children’s Lab at Staffordshire University) introduces a blog by a current Staffordshire Psychology & Child Development Student:

Sharing the findings of research in psychology is important. To develop the skills required for this, our third year BSc Psychology and Child Development students have been writing informational blogs aimed at parents. These have been completed as part of a series of tasks designed to develop their ability to share psychological research findings in an informative and engaging way. The work below was written by current student Carol Ashley.

Help! My child’s a neophobe!

It’s official, I am a failure as a mother, I have raised a food neophobe, albeit unwittingly. Apparently, my child’s road to ruin began when she was just 14 months old. Researchers at Queensland University have indicated that the type of foods introduced at this age can determine whether or not a child will be a fussy eater (the neophobe in question) by the time they reach the (very precise) age of 3.7 years.

The 2016 study speaks grandly about “non-core foods” by which I’m assuming they mean the custard creams I gave her (I was trying to finish the ironing). However, on a serious note, I realise I may have been slightly lax when it came to introducing new vegetables and occasionally resorted to the fast food option.

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The research points out the difference between fruit and vegetables never having been offered rather than actually being refused. My daughter balked at her first taste of broccoli and turned up her nose at other vegetables too. Fruit was a different story, she liked every type I gave to her and, in my defence, she ate a lot more fruit than the dreaded non-core foods with their saturated fats, added sugars and salt. Nevertheless, the study suggests that being introduced to different vegetables at 14 months a child would later like more vegetables and fruit, yet eating fruit may not mean they will like more vegetables – still with me? Interestingly the research found no connection between the content of the diet with a toddler’s BMI score, but don’t be fooled – this could affect children as they get older.

As is usually the case there is another school of thought that restricting a child’s diet is counter-productive. In 2014, Rollins, and his colleagues suggested that there may be a link between inherited and environmental influences in the emergence of the fussy eater. So is it my fault that my daughter is partial to the odd chicken nugget or fish finger, has my horror of the “golden arches” and the eerie clown lit an unquenchable flame? Or could it be inherited from me? I cannot look a Brussels sprout in the eye!

Can this pattern be reversed? Well, Webber (2010) states that it takes 8-15 attempts before taste buds become accustomed to flavours, so armed with my trusty steam cooker, I am determined that at the grand age of 3.7 years my tiny neophobe will learn that broccoli is not the root of all evil.


Interested in Psychology? Come to an Open Day & find Staffs-Uni-Hi-Res_45-1024x683out more about Psychology courses at Staffordshire University.

Thinking about taking a Psychology degree or a related course? Come to one of Staffordshire University’s Open Days and find out more! Book your place via: www.staffs.ac.uk/openyourmind/

Find out about our Psychology degrees, including our highly rated BSc Psychology & Child Development degree and our Undergraduate and Postgraduate courses.

Guidelines on children’s screen time need to be built on evidence

Dr Sarah Rose (Lecturer in Developmental Psychology & Director of the Staffordshire Children’s Lab) blogs about a recent debate in the media regarding the effects of screen time on children’s development and wellbeing:

A letter published in the Guardian on Christmas day claimed that ‘Screen-based lifestyle harms children’s health’. This was signed by a group of forty writers, psychologists and charity heads who argued that national guidelines on screen based technology are required.

May16 SR Screen free week pic1

The claims for the links between and increasing screen-based lifestyle and children’s wellbeing are not supported by the evidence. I am delighted to have been able to add my support to this response from a group of academics and expert practitioners published by the Guardian last week. In this we argue that screen time guidelines need to be built on evidence, not hype or scaremongering.

Of course the wellbeing of children is important and the impact of screen-based lifestyle requires investigation but currently there is insufficient research evidence on which to base National Guidelines. Rather than focusing on quantity alone, evidence is needed regarding context of use (where, when and how digital media are accessed), content (what is being watched or used), and connections (whether and how relationships are facilitated or impeded).


Staffs-Uni-Hi-Res_45-1024x683Interested in Psychology? Come to an Open Day & find out more about Psychology courses at Staffordshire University.

Intrigued by Dr Sarah Rose’s research? Wonder whether screen time is actually having more negative than positive effects on child health and development? Thinking about taking a Psychology degree or a related course?

Come to one of Staffordshire University’s Open Days and find out more! Book your place via: www.staffs.ac.uk/openyourmind/

Find out about our Psychology degrees, including our highly rated BSc Psychology & Child Development degree and our Undergraduate and Postgraduate courses.

New research investigates the role of education in developing children’s drawing abilities

Dr. Sarah Rose (Lecturer in Developmental Psychology and Director of the Staffordshire Children’s Lab) discusses research carried out with Dr Richard Jolley (Senior Lecturer in Psychology) which investigates the extent to which children’s drawing abilities differ in two contrasting educational settings.

Dr Richard Jolley and Dr Sarah Rose

Dr Richard Jolley and Dr Sarah Rose

Dr. Rose explains that although there has been over 100 years’ of research investigating how children’s drawing develop, very little attention has been given to the influence of education on their development. In order to address this gap in our understanding drawings produced by pupils (age 6 to 16 years) who attended Mainstream and Steiner schools were compared.

These two school types were chosen as they have contrasting approaches to teaching drawing. Whereas in the Mainstream schools observational and expressive drawing skills are taught concurrently, in the Steiner schools the emphasis is on imaginative and expressive drawings, with observational drawing skills not being taught until children are 12-years old.  In addition, the amount of time, and the artistry of the teachers have also been identified as defining features of Steiner schools.

Pupils were asked to complete six drawings; three expressing a particular mood (happy, sad and angry), an observational drawing of an artist’s mannequin, a representational drawing of a house that they had seen and a free drawing. Local artist were involved in scoring all the drawings for the level of drawing skill demonstrated.

Considering the differing emphasis of the art education experienced by the pupils at the two school types the results of the research were somewhat surprising.  Steiner pupils, including those in the younger age groups, were better at the observational and representational drawing tasks compared to those in Mainstream schools.  However, their expressive and free drawings were rated very similarly. This evidence suggests that maybe art teaching does not have as much impact on drawing ability as might be thought. However, it is also possible that actually the approaches to teaching drawing in these two schools may not be as different as the curricula suggest.

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Two free drawings by 16-year-old pupils: one attending a Mainstream school (right) and one attending a Steiner school (left)

Drs Rose and Jolley are hoping to carry out further research in this area to investigate the impact of differing experiences of art education within Mainstream schools.

Rose, S. E. & Jolley, R. P. (2016).  Drawing Development in Mainstream and Waldorf Steiner Schools RevisitedPsychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts, 10, 447-457.

The Children’s Lab is home to developmental psychology research at Staffordshire University and is part of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research.


Interested in Psychology? Come to an Open Day & find out more about Psychology courses at Staffordshire University.

Intrigued by Dr Sarah Rose’s research? Wonder whether screen time is actually having more negative than positive effects on child health and development? Staffordshire University offers a range of psychology degrees which are characterised by our research-informed teaching by active research staff.

Come to one of Staffordshire University’s Open Days and find out more! Book your place via: www.staffs.ac.uk/openyourmind/

Find out more about our Psychology degrees here!