Written by Dr Nikki Street and Dr Erica Lucas Recently Psychologists from around the world gathered in Brighton to discuss, debate, and celebrate the impact of psychology on community and society in the European Congress of Psychology co-hosted by the … Continue reading →
The BPS Research Assistantship Scheme is highly competitive, so the Department is proud to be successful in being awarded two summer internships in 2022 to Dr Alison Owen and Dr Sarah Rose.
One of the award holders, Heather Cassidy, who is working with Dr Alison Owen, has written a blog piece about her experiences studying BSc Psychology and Child Development and the focus for the research.
I have completed year 2 of BSc Psychology and Child Development and I am currently in my final year. During the second year I was really excited to have the opportunity to choose the research assistantship module to build experience to suit my future career plans.
I want to get as much research experience during my time at Staffs as I can, unlike some of the other option modules it had a limited number of spaces and I had to achieve a certain grade in research modules in year 1 to get one of the spaces. I had my fingers crossed that I got a place, and it did not disappoint. In fact, it was more than I could have imagined it was going to be. To be trusted to work on the research with the health psychology team was an amazing experience and opened doors of opportunity that have really made my journey at staffs both unique and tailored to me. The research I worked on was looking at breastfeeding and body image, I created adverts online to recruit participants, scheduled video appointments, wrote questions to ask and interviewed the participants for the study. I then transcribed the interviews and wrote my thoughts down of the generated themes to pass on to other researchers. As well as being my first experience of qualitative research, which helped with a further qualitative lab report on a core module in semester 2, the assistantship module provides an opportunity for reflection which will come in handy having had experience writing this ready for the year 3 project.
Wednesdays were my favourite day, I would have an occasional research assistantship lecture first thing, followed by a child development module. At the start of year 2 the first child development lecture asked the whole group what we wanted from the module as individuals. We all scribbled on post it notes and thought nothing of it, we studied the core material in semester 1 and then semester 2 arrived and the module had been set out each week to cover the topics the group had asked for in relation to careers. Each week we covered a different topic and various speakers came in to tell us how it related to their jobs, we heard from speakers working in various child psychology careers. We were taught how this connected to the material from semester 1 and how their diary looked in a typical week from clinical psychologists to family support workers. It was eye opening, and I know the group all enjoyed learning from people working in roles that they aspire to achieve after graduating next year. The child development lecturers always go above and beyond, and for me personally it really supported the notion of my experience being about me. I do not feel like I am a number on a register, my course is shaping my knowledge and putting the building blocks in place for my future career.
Year 2 has also demonstrated just how far I have come. I have done various other courses over the years, and I have never felt confident writing an essay before. At the start of year 1 I had used references in previous work, but I was still clueless about it, I just did it and hoped for the best. I remember my feedback from my first essay at staffs, my marker had written where is the intro? I was so confused, I had done a starting paragraph, nobody had ever pulled me up on my introduction style before. This allowed me to question what it was I needed to do, and it all fell in to place. I finally know how to write an essay. That may not be an achievement for others but for me it has been such a huge step and my marks have increased a lot as the course has gone on through all the teaching and feedback I have received at Staffs.
Outside of the planned lessons there is other support available to teach people study skills such as referencing and searching for journals, there is a section on the website where you can book in for any additional help you need. It is through the extra support available that it was finally picked up this year that I have ADHD. With this extra support it has enabled me to not only receive extra support, but it also puts the pieces into place for me of why I have always been capable of doing work, but the reason why I have struggled. This year has been life changing in so many ways academically and Staffs have truly supported and nurtured my development.
The golden egg moment for me this year was being put forward for a BPS award to take on a summer internship. I cried when I found out I had received it, but even if I had not received it, the fact that I was being able to put my own ideas forward for research and have people acknowledge that and have confidence in me to put me forward was an award in itself. The research I am currently working on is on the experiences of parents breastfeeding twins and multiples. During the assistantship module I interviewed around 15 women, only one was breastfeeding twins, based on her experience it opened my eyes to the differences she was experiencing as a mum of twins, and I suggested a twin study on the back of the research I had carried out in year 2. I have had the pleasure of working alongside Dr Alison Owen, Dr Jenny Taylor and Dr Amy Burton, all from Staffs health psychology department with experience in breastfeeding and qualitative research. Even just from writing the proposal to put forward to be considered I was able to learn how proposals are put forward, how to fill in ethics forms and carry out a literature review to use in the study. In August, I finished the literature searches, written the introduction, written questions, recruited participants, used Qualtrics as part of the recruiting process where there are around 170 detailed responses to use for the study as well as 19 video interviews I have carried out. I have been transcribing the videos ready to start the thematic analysis of both the videos and written responses over the next few weeks. I could not have pictured where this year would have gone, but it has been far greater than I could have imagined, and I am so thankful for the support I have received. I do not feel like I am at university to just get a degree and enter the job market, I truly feel like I am being given the skills I need to have a successful career in Psychology.
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.
Staffordshire University recently held the Learning and Teaching Festival (LTF [Monday 6 June to Friday 10 June 2022]). The festival provided an opportunity for the University community to share and develop innovative learning and teaching practices from across the University. The day consisted of a variety of different styles of talks (e.g. presentations, simulations, workshops, demonstrations, discussions, and 5-minute pecha kucha) across diverse topic areas. There were also opportunities for networking as people from across the University came together to share practice. The festival talks covered several key themes, including: Learning support; Co-creation between peers, staff, and students; Digital technology; Social mobility and resilience; Innovative pedagogies; Employment; and Addressing differential outcomes for students.
Several talks were provided by members of the Psychology department. Dr Dan Herron and MSc Foundations in Clinical Psychology student, Jack Beardmore, discussed experiences of using a world café to understand student feedback. Dr Jenny Taylor and Dr Nikki Street delivered an interactive session providing attendees with a taster of the mindfulness intervention they recently facilitated for Psychology students which was aimed at improving a range of outcomes including wellbeing, resilience and student experience.
Using a world café to gain a rich understanding of student feedback
By Dr Dan Herron & Jack Beardmore
When I (Dan) saw the abstract call for the LTF I thought my recent experiences of gaining rich feedback from students was an example of good practice which would be useful to share across the University. Jack and I wanted to provide an interactive demonstration of how I gained a deeper understanding of MSc student feedback (mid-course) using a world café technique.
Before jumping into my reflections of the workshop, it is important to reflect on the reasons for why I decided to collect this feedback and in this format. The main driving force was that the previous years end of course feedback did not provide the reasoning behind the student scores. For example, students identify on a scale from definitely agree to definitely disagree with written responses, where students can provide reasons, being optional. Therefore, from my experiences with world cafes, I thought this method would be ideal and provide rich insight, which would allow for informed changes to the course.
It is also important to understand a little bit about what world cafés are and how I applied them. How world cafés are utilised varies based on their purpose- for gaining student feedback, I had two one-hour world cafés (same time and same place but a week apart) because of the availability of students. As illustrated in Diagram 1, world cafés can consist of several tables, and on each table, there is a host who facilitates the discussion, and 4-5 participants. We had one question per round (all students, across all tables, discussed the same question at the same time) and there were seven rounds across the two sessions. After each round, students moved (as randomly as possible) to different tables.
Jack and I worked collaboratively to develop and deliver the workshop. I asked Jack to come along and provide his perspective (as a participant) of world cafés to gain student feedback. We had planned for it to be an interactive workshop, where the audience took part in a mini- world café, but due to the amount of people in the audience (less than needed) we decided to go to plan B and focus more on our experiences of the world café sessions. For different, but interlinked reasons, we both found usefulness in world cafes- for me, they helped to provide rich insight which was developed through collaborative discussion between students; for Jack, it provided the space and opportunity to dive deeper into their issues, share perspectives and give feedback as a community. We shared these views and experiences with the audience.
We had interesting and useful feedback about the content of the talk and suggestions of how it could be used beyond feedback (something I have previously done when teaching thematic analysis). I feel Jack’s perspective, as a participant, really added value to the talk.
Mindful Students: Mindfulness interventions to improve student outcomes
By Dr Jenny Taylor and Dr Nikki Street
This interactive workshop discussed the background research exploring how and why mindfulness interventions may have had a positive impact on student experience as well as providing a taster of a mindfulness intervention in the form of a guided meditation recently delivered to a small group of our undergraduate psychology students. The benefits of mindfulness are well known, particularly in terms of health and wellbeing. The general benefits of engaging in mindfulness for students in a learning context are also well documented but we know less about its impact on specific constructs such as resilience, perceived academic control, and sense of belonging. The research also is lacking more qualitative insight into the impact of mindfulness therefore our study looks at not only quantitative changes across an intervention but also explored students individual experiences in qualitative interviews to offer further understanding of the potential benefits that practice can have.
Both Nikki and Jenny are trained Mindfulness Now practitioners (a version of mindfulness that is approved by the British Psychological Society) and, as academics, are particularly interested in how mindfulness can help our students.
Nikki and Jenny were awarded funding from the Staffordshire Centre of Learning and Pedagogic practice (SCoLLP) to explore the impact of an 8-week mindfulness intervention on a range of student outcomes including wellbeing, resilience, belongingness, perceived academic control, and student experience. The weekly sessions involved Nikki and Jenny facilitating a small group of students to engage with mindfulness in a variety of different formats including meditation, activities, stories and poems, as well as providing space for personal enquiry and reflection. Students were also encouraged to engage in some mindfulness ‘homework’ each week in order to further enhance their practice.
To assess its impact, students were asked to complete a survey pre and post intervention as well as taking part in a follow up interview about their experiences. This data will be analysed in conjunction with data we collect from the additional roll out of the intervention. To date, feedback from the students has been overwhelmingly positive with one student commenting on their general enjoyment of the intervention:
Another student commented specifically on how they felt the intervention had helped them during the examination period:
The workshop delivered for the LTF presented an overview of the project, our reflections so far, as well as a taster of some of the practices that we guide our students through. The workshop led to some interesting discussions around the potential use of mindfulness for students across different contexts and discussion around potential cross discipline applications.
As part of our series of StaffsPsych Graduate Success Stories, we are pleased to introduce Emma who completed her BSc (Hons) Psychology and Counselling degree here at Staffordshire University in 2022. Find out about Emma’s experiences on her course and her plans for the future:
Please tell us a little about your background before coming to study at Staffordshire University:
I decided to study psychology at university on my first day at sixth form! I started studying psychology at sixth form in 2017 and my teacher was a real inspiration to me. As soon as I stepped into the classroom on my first day I knew it was what I wanted to study and I became very dedicated to those studies. This set me on the path to where I am now!
What attracted you to studying Psychology at Staffordshire University?
Staffordshire University was the first place I went to an open day when choosing a university. As soon as I arrived at the university I felt at home and was comfortable walking around. During the talks given by the lecturers on the day I was enthralled by the topics and was very engaged in these talks. I felt that I could gain a lot from the experience that Staffordshire University could give me and what they had to offer and I knew it was the place for me to be for the next 3 years at least!
What were the best parts of your experience at Staffordshire?
During my time at university we went into lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic so my experience was somewhat interrupted due to this. In spite of this I managed to make the most of the experiences the university had to offer with day trips to Alton Towers to meet people on my course and other extra-curricular activities on offer (the club nights in the LRV and karaoke in the Ember Lounge!). I was also part of the university badminton club for my 3 years of studying and made some wonderful friends there and gained experience in running clubs – highly recommend being part of as many clubs and societies as you can – this is what gives you that full university experience!
What was the biggest challenge(s) that you overcame whilst studying at Staffordshire?
The biggest challenge I faced at university was the change in learning styles from starting with face-to-face lectures in first year to only online lectures in second year and then a mix of everything in my final year. Due to the online learning bought about by the pandemic communication with peers was limited as discussions during lectures were difficult due to often unstable internet connections and difficulty in communicating online. Also arranging meetings with mentors and lecturers meant a stable internet connection which was sometimes hard to find in a student house when everyone was studying online! Due to not being on campus access to resources was limited for a while as not all textbooks/articles were available online, however this was resolved quickly by the university in difficult times! These challenges were overcome through perseverance of online lectures and many emails to and from (very) patient lecturers discussing any questions that students had.
What have you done since leaving Staffordshire?How did you course help you with this?
Since finishing my undergraduate degree in May 2022 I have been busy completing a summer internship with lecturers at the university. This internship has been based within Health Psychology, the area in which I am most interested and has consisted of a systematic review. As part of the review team I have been searching across multiple databases, completing data extraction and quality appraisal of articles. This kind of review is not something I had been able to complete as part of the course and so gaining this experience has been invaluable. This has been a really wonderful experience and has given me many skills that will prove useful in my future career in Health Psychology.
I am starting a master’s in Health Psychology at Staffordshire University in September 2022, during which I will be undertaking a placement module which will give me a great deal of experience working within the industry alongside my studies.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about applying to study Psychology at Staffordshire University?
Go for it! Studying psychology at Staffordshire University was one of the best decisions I have ever made. The experiences I have been given and the people I have met have allowed me to develop skills and create lifelong bonds with some amazing people, whether this be the lecturers being great mentors or friends that I have made along the way. All these things make me Proud to be Staffs.
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.
A small team from Staffordshire University, including Lisa Kyte (a current level 5 BSc Psychology and Child Development student at Staffordshire University) and Dr Dan Herron (Lecturer in Psychology at Staffordshire University) are carrying out some research exploring how the cost-of-living crisis is experienced by unpaid carers of people living with dementia.
Research has shown the potential financial challenges associated with being a carer (Gott et al., 2015) and specifically being an unpaid carer of a person living with dementia (Bayley et al., 2021). Being a carer has additional costs that can significantly impact their financial situation. Carers are likely to have been further negatively impacted by the recent cost-of-living crisis (Carers UK, 2022).
Since late 2021, the UK has been experiencing a cost-of-living crisis which has been driven by sharp increases in energy prices and the prices of everyday basics such as food. Carers UK (2022), early in the crisis, carried out a survey and the results illustrated the negative impact of increased prices on carers, with carers having to make tough decisions between food or heating. No research (to the our knowledge) has explored the views and experiences of unpaid carers of people living with dementia during the cost-of-living crisis.
Our study involves taking part in an interview (informal chat) about unpaid carers’ experiences during the cost-of-living crisis this can be in person (depending on location) or by telephone or online chat. If you are 18 years or over, and care and live with a person living with dementia, and are interested in taking part, please read the Cost of living Information Sheet. Please do share this information with anyone you think will be interested.
If you want to take part in this research, discuss it further or have any questions, please do get in touch with Dan (firstname.lastname@example.org or 01782 295866)
The BPS Research Assistantship Scheme is highly competitive, so the Department is proud to be successful in being awarded two summer internships to Dr Alison Owen and Dr Sarah Rose. We wish both students the best of luck in their Summer Research Assistantships!
One of the award holders, Louise Middling, who is working with Dr Sarah Rose, has written a blog piece about her experiences studying BSc Psychology and Child Development and the focus for the research.
If you’d have told me 5 years ago that I would be a mature student at staffs studying BSc Psychology and Child Development I would never have believed you. I can honestly say though that it has been one of the best decisions that I have ever made. The course has opened up a wealth of opportunities for me that I could never have envisaged before I started, and I have met some amazing people along the way.
Having worked as an intervention specialist in a primary school, I have always been interested in exploring new ideas about how children learn and develop and so when the Research Assistantship Module came up as an option module in Level 5, I knew I wanted to take part. I read all of the project proposals hoping to find a project I could really resonate with and learn some new skills that I could benefit from in my final year project. I found myself drawn to a project with Dr. Sarah Rose on the use of social media among young children. I had to admit that my knowledge of social media was scant, and part of me knew that as well as an interesting project, I would need to know all I could to learn to navigate this with my own children in the future!
Luckily I was accepted onto the project and under the guidance of Dr. Rose set about identifying and researching social media platforms designed for use by young children and researching how they interact with each other on these platforms, while looking for relevant research into this topic area. Over the course of the assistantship, I learned so much that has really benefitted me both personally and professionally, and have built skills that I can take forward into the future.
I was delighted when Dr. Rose put me forward for the Undergraduate Research Assistantship Scheme with the British Psychological Society, and was so happy to hear that we had won one of the awards grants. This has enabled us to extend our research and work with Dr. Beatrice Hayes of Royal Holloway in London into completing a scoping review on perceptions of young children’s SNS use over the summer. I can’t wait to see where this research will lead. If you are reading this and wondering whether to complete the Research Assistantship Module, I definitely recommend it. I’d like to thank Dr. Rose for her mentorship and support throughout.
The Psychology Academic team are pleased to welcome Professor Richard Cooke who joined the University as a Professor of Health Psychology in January 2022. Richard introduces himself below:
I am delighted to have joined the amazing Staffordshire University as their new Professor of Health Psychology, director of the Centre for Psychological Research (SCPR), and co-director of the Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology. I am a full member of the Division of Health Psychology and registered as Health Psychologist with the Health and Care Professions Council. I am also a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a Registered Applied Psychology Practice Supervisor. I am the current chair of the Division of Health Psychology’s Conference Scientific Committee. I previously acted as Chair of the Local Organising Committee for the 2018 UK Society for Behavioural Medicine annual scientific meeting hosted at Edgbaston Cricket ground.
My primary research interest focuses on people’s motivation
to perform health behaviours, investigating questions such as “Why do people
drink excessively?” and “Why don’t people eat healthily and engage in physical
activity?”. I’m also interested in health guidelines and why people don’t
follow them!, as well as working with colleagues from the Global Drug Survey
team, based in Australia, the UK, and the US, on global comparisons of
My secondary research interest is working with health
professionals to design, develop and evaluate health behaviour change interventions.
My interest in this area began when I led a qualitative evaluation of the NHS
Health Checks programme in Birmingham. Since completing that project I’ve
worked with Optometrists at Aston University, and Nutritionists at the
University of Manchester, to promote dietary behaviour change in patient
populations. I am currently working on a NIHR-funded grant with dentists at the
University of Liverpool to test the impact of a health behaviour change
intervention to promote routine dental attendance.
Many moons ago, I completed my undergraduate degree in
Psychology at the University of Sheffield, before completing my Masters degree in
Research Methods in Psychology at the University of Reading. I then returned to
Sheffield to complete my PhD on moderation of cognition-behaviour relations
using properties of cognition in 2002. Next, I worked at the University of
Leeds on the UNIQoLL project – an attempt to map out the mental health of ALL
students at the University. I then moved to Sheffield Hallam University in 2003
to take on a post as a Lecturer in Health Psychology. One year later, I moved
to Aston University as a Lecturer in Health Psychology, gaining promotion to
Senior Lecturer in 2012. I was part of the team that established the MSc Health
Psychology programme in 2005 and the MSc Health Psychology (online) programme a
decade later. I delivered Quantitative Methods and Advanced Statistics and
Health Behaviours modules for 13 years as well as teaching methods and
statistics, social psychology, and an optional module on the psychology of
alcohol at undergraduate level. Prior to coming to Staffs, I spent four years
as a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Liverpool, teaching a
postgraduate module in advanced research methods as part of their MSc Research
Methods in Psychology.
Currently, I have several ongoing projects, including
supervising a PhD student to explore the link between the fear of missing out
(FoMO) and alcohol consumption, secondary analyses of big data sets with
collaborators at UEA and in Bremen, and secondary analyses of longitudinal data
with colleagues in Norway. I continue to write up results of the CALIBRATE
study, a funded study seeking to compare prediction of alcohol consumption
between university students based in six different European countries. If you
are interested in hearing more about these projects feel free to email me via email@example.com or you
can follow me on Twitter @Prof_R_Cooke.
My first few weeks at Staffordshire have been great –
everyone is really friendly, and it’s been a pleasure to meet people and
Written by Matthew Kimberley, Psychology PhD Researcher
I am currently in the second year of my PhD at Staffordshire University. Every PhD at Staffs is completely different and is tailored to the researcher. You choose your own research area and much of the design and the direction of the PhD is directed by the research, with support offered by your supervisors.
range of research being conducted within the department at Staffordshire
University allows you to interact with researchers with different research interests
and methodologies. Through interactions with your fellow researchers, you are
able to share your experiences and learn from one another. This may include
sharing methodology/analysis experiences or methods of recruitment.
During a PhD at Staffordshire University, you work closely with your supervision team at all stages of research and receive a great deal of feedback. My supervision team consists of Doctor Jade Elliott, Doctor Samuel Jones and Doctor Zachary Parker. During your PhD, you gain a great deal of support and mentorship from your supervisors. Having more than supervisor allows you to gain insight from several viewpoints which is useful when shaping your research.
PhD allows you to dedicate a large proportion of your time to your research and
to focus your attention to answering your research question. My research
examines the factors which influence whether an individual shares their sexual
fantasies with their partner. To accomplish this, I am primarily using
quantitative research methods, such as quantitative content analysis and
multiple regression analysis.
PhD, I also teach part-time in the Psychology department. This has allowed me
to gain valuable teaching experience and provided me with a number of training
opportunities. I am particularly interested in gaining HEA associate fellowship
in the near future.
alongside my supervisors, my research currently focuses on the disclosure of
sexual fantasies. In particular, I am interested in examining which factors may
influence how likely individuals are to share their fantasies with an intimate
initial year of my PhD at Staffordshire University, I conducted a systematic
review which aimed to examine which factors influenced self-disclosure within
sexual and/or romantic relationships (Kimberley et al., in preparation). This
review highlighted that very little research has examined which factors
influence the disclosure of sexual fantasies.
Given that a
large proportion of individuals regularly experience sexual fantasies (97%-
Lehmiller, 2018) and that sexual fantasies and sexual self-disclosure act as
relationship maintenance and enhancement tools, it is important to conduct research
to examine which factors may inhibit or promote the disclosure of sexual
methodologies commonly used by HIV research, my first study aimed to identify
the reasons participants provided for disclosing (or not disclosing) their
sexual fantasies. This study also asked participants how their partner
responded (or how they believed their partner would respond) to these
disclosures. Recruitment has recently ended for this study, and I am now
beginning to start analysis of the data using content analysis. Understanding
the reasons people hold for hiding their sexual fantasies from a partner is
crucial for developing an understanding of why some people disclose and others
I have also
recently received ethical approval for a second study, which examines how
relationship characteristics (e.g. trust, love or perceptions of one’s partner)
may influence an individual’s likelihood of disclosing their sexual fantasies.
Recruitment for this study has started recently. Within this study,
participants are asked to reflect on their relationship with a regular partner
and to respond to hypothetical scenarios involving the disclosure of various
sexual fantasies. To participate, you must be aged over 18 and currently in a
sexual and/or romantic relationship. You do not need to have previously
disclosed (or had) a sexual fantasy to take part.
If you would be interested in taking part, you can do so by accessing the following link (http://staffordshire.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_2gK6xCjjZVTMvJA)
If you are a Staffordshire University student, you may also take part in the study through sona, where you can earn 2 sona credits. If you have any questions, please contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org).