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.

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