Dr Nikki Street and Dr Erica Lucas attend the European Congress of Psychology 2023 Conference


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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

Staffordshire University Psychology Department awarded two prestigious BPS Undergraduate Research Assistantships – Meet StaffsPsych Student Heather Cassidy

The Department of Psychology were 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 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.

Heather Cassidy

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.

The Learning and Teaching Festival

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.  

A visual representation of World Café

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:

“It was a commonplace thing that I’d be kind of bragging to whoever I was talking   to that I get to take part in this study and kind of get to experience this new                      mindfulness way of living. I’ve really enjoyed it.”

student feedback

Another student commented specifically on how they felt the intervention had helped them during the examination period:

“I found that I was not relying on but turning to the teachings of mindfulness when I  was a   little overcome by the anxiety of that period and leading up to each of the exams…kind of resolving the anxiety that I was feeling rather than  just brushing it off, I was able to actually manage and control the anxiety”

Student feedback

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.

If you are interested in hearing more about our intervention, then please contact Jenny on jennifer.taylor@staffs.ac.uk or Nikki on nikki.street@staffs.ac.uk.

Exterior Science Centre

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. The department is home to the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research, a large and active group of psychologists, PhD students and researchers conducting work into a variety of psychological disciplines and topic areas.

Breastfeeding beyond infancy can be beneficial for children and parents – mothers explain pressure they feel to stop – Dr Amy Burton writes for The Conversation

Dr Amy Burton

Dr Amy Burton writes about photo-elicitation breastfeeding research conducted by members of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research, Centre for Health Psychology (Dr Amy Burton, Dr Jennifer Taylor, Dr Alison Owen and Dr Sarah Dean).

Dr Amy Burton writes about how participants shared feelings of intense pressure regarding the accepted length of time to breastfeed.

The Conversation UK is a free news service featuring articles written by academics on a range of topics and current affairs. Staffordshire University is a member of The Conversation UK and you can read the full article below:

The Conversation: Breastfeeding beyond infancy can be beneficial for children and parents – mothers explain pressure they feel to stop

You can also read more about this research and access the research paper in Dr Amy Burton’s sway: “I don’t know how to be a parent without boobs”

Watch out for more Conversation articles written by the members of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research!

Staffordshire University – The Home of Health Psychology

Staffordshire University has a history of excellence in teaching and research in Health Psychology, and is home to Staffordshire’s BPS Accredited Stage 1 MSc in Health Psychology and Stage 2 Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology. The Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research has active team of Health Psychologists who conduct research and provide consultancy in a range of health-related issues.

Keep updated with the latest Health Psychology news from Staffordshire University via following us on @StaffsPsych @HealthPsyStaffs and via the #HealthPsychStaffs hashtag.

For further information about Health Psychology courses and research at Staffordshire University please visit the following webpages:

Are you “Research Ready?” An introductory course to quantitative and qualitative methods

Dr Sarah Dean, Dr Jennifer Taylor, Dr Gemma Hurst and Dr Andrew Edmonds from the Psychology department at Staffordshire University are running a short introductory research methods course called “Research Ready”.

The course will introduce attendees to quantitative and qualitative research, covering topics such as: research design, research questions, qualitative analysis (thematic) and quantitative analysis (t-tests, correlations and ANOVAs using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS)).

The course will be delivered over two days, with day one focusing on research design and qualitative analysis, and day two quantitative data analysis. You have the option of signing up for a single day or both days. The course will be delivered in an interactive format with plenty of opportunities to ‘have a go’ and practice what you learn with friendly and experienced staff to support you!

The course takes place on Wednesday 14th and Thursday 15th August 2019 and will be suitable for those who are completely new to research methods or for those simply wanting a refresher. Perhaps you have just graduated and feel as though you need a refresher before starting postgraduate study? Or you may be a current student who would find this helpful as revision over the summer? Maybe you have got no research experience but would like to learn to develop and expand your research knowledge and future opportunities? Whilst the course will be delivered by Psychology staff experienced in teaching research methods, the course will also be appropriate for those within other disciplines. Everyone is welcome!

The cost of attending the full two-day course is £250 and for attendance at one day is £175. You will receive a certificate of attendance and light refreshments will be provided. 

To sign up to the course please click here

For further information and for any enquiries please contact researchready@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. The department is home to the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research, a large and active group of psychologists, PhD students and researchers conducting work into a variety of psychological disciplines and topic areas.

Exterior Science Centre

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.

Dr Jenny Taylor joins the Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University!

By Dr Jenny Taylor, Lecturer in Psychology

Dr Jenny Taylor

I am delighted to have recently joined the Psychology  team as a Lecturer here at Staffordshire University. My first few weeks have been great, everyone has been very friendly and supportive and I’ve been made to feel really welcome. Here’s a bit of background about me:

I completed my undergraduate psychology degree in Psychology and Criminology at Keele University in 2007. After a few years away from academia, I returned to Keele to complete my MSc in Psychology of Health and Wellbeing – it was during this time that I realised my passion for health psychology and qualitative research! After my MSc, I stayed at Keele to start my PhD which was focused on exploring the social representations of sunbed use and how these representations influence how people talk about and behave with regards to sunbed tanning and the risks involved.

In the final year of my PhD, I took on the role of part-time Teaching Fellow at Keele. I continued in this role for another year following the completion of my PhD, as well as working as a Research Assistant on a project exploring the knowledge and attitudes of mothers in Staffordshire towards cervical screening and the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccination. I also, during this time, completed the Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education at Keele and I am now a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. In 2016, I took on a temporary position as Lecturer at Keele University, teaching on the undergraduate and postgraduate Psychology programmes.  I joined the team here at Staffordshire University at the beginning of January 2018.

My research interests are in exploring health risk behaviours that are body image related, such as sunbed use and cosmetic surgery. I am especially interested in how people talk about such behaviours in light of the risks.  I am a qualitative researcher and a member of the editorial board for the Qualitative Methods in Psychology (QMIP) section of the British Psychological Society (BPS).

I’m very excited to have joined such a vibrant, enthusiastic team here at Staffordshire University and am looking forward to continuing with my passion for both teaching and research.

Staffordshire University – The Home of Health Psychology

Staffordshire University’s Centre for Health Psychology is a centre of excellence for teaching and research in Health Psychology, and is home to Staffordshire’s BPS Accredited Stage 1 MSc in Health Psychology and Stage 2 Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology. The Centre for Health Psychology is part of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research.

Keep updated with the latest Health Psychology news from Staffordshire University via following us on @StaffsPsych and via the #HealthPsychStaffs hashtag.

For further information about Health Psychology courses and research at Staffordshire University please visit the following webpages: