We do like to hear from ex-students, especially as helping students develop skills and build confidence is at the heart of much of what we do. It helps us all realise the value of psychology and the skills it provides. We want the psychology that they are exposed to to be professionally relevant and to help them build their careers. We know from conversation and feedback that students want to make a difference to the world and to contribute to supporting people in all sorts of different ways.
This year we have a visit from the BPS to review our programme, and we have used this as an opportunity to reflect on the degree and make changes that will enhance the support we provide for our students. A part of this review will see the introduction of three new pathways, echoing the expertise in the department and the interests of our students. These are pathways in health, education, and forensic psychologies. These pathways will complement the psychology programme, building on its strengths in applied psychology.
As we have reflected on the programme, it is nice to look back on the experiences of some of our graduates. We have been offering placements in education settings through our links with First Campus for 10 years. These placements have helped inspire students to go and work further in education. One of of our ex-students, Donna Ward, has kindly written the below about her experiences as a student in Psychology at Cardiff Met and as a volunteer with First Campus.
It’s been three years since I graduated in Psychology from Cardiff Metropolitan, and on reflection, I can honestly say it was an all-round inspiring and supportive organisation. Cardiff Met provided a rich environment that encouraged me to develop personally, professionally and academically. As a BPS accredited course, it provided me with strong research skills, professional work experience through the educational psychology module, and contacts to other organisations to gain further paid experience. All of which has now led to me achieving a position as an Assistant Educational Psychologist, applying for the Doctorate in Educational Psychology.
Student development is at the heart of the organisation. The academic tutors on the psychology course are highly skilled, and compassionate, and use psychology to inform their work with students. A mixture of seminars, lectures, academic workshops, tutor evaluative feedback, and ongoing pastoral support help improve exam performance, essay writing, research skills, and most importantly academic confidence. The relationship I had with many of the staff at Cardiff Met, especially my personal tutor Dr Annette Daly, provided me with the support and encouragement I needed to get through my degree.
The Educational Psychology module fuelled what would become my future career. The content of the module sparked my interest, and the encouragement and feedback from the tutors inspired me to take it further. The module provided the opportunity to train as a student mentor and go into schools once a week and mentor secondary students. From this module I made links with a widening access organisation named First Campus, who aim to improve further education pathways for adolescents. I was offered the opportunity to interview as a First campus ambassador, allowing me gain paid experience delivering a weekly workshop to looked after children (LAC). I still talk about this experience at interview three years later.
I graduated from Cardiff Met feeling like I had developed good research skills and was competent in the use statistical software programmes and methodological analysis. I had developed good essay writing skills, and precision in scientific report writing through the completion of multiple reports, essays and a systematic review. All of which lead to my success in my MSc in Educational Psychology at UCL. Many of the assignments you complete on the undergraduate psychology course at Cardiff Met are of a similar format to what you will complete on the doctorate course, specifically the systematic review, research reports and final research project. I can honestly say I feel confident that I will be able fulfil the academic demands required for the Doctorate in Educational Psychology.
I graduated from Cardiff Met with so much more than a degree. I graduated with work experience, ambition and desire to make a difference in education. From completing my psychology degree in 2015 and gaining relevant work experience from the educational psychology module and First Campus, I was able to work in an adolescent psychiatric hospital as an Occupational Therapy Assistant, complete my master’s in Educational Psychology at UCL, secure a role as an Assistant Educational Psychologist, which has transitioned into my current role as a Senior Assistant Educational Psychologist. With this academic and professional experience, I am now in a position to apply to the doctorate in Educational Psychology.
Outward mobility to Florida
This year two colleagues in forensic psychology (Drs Nic Bowes and Karen de Claire) were successful in gaining funding for an outward mobility visit. Building strong international collaborations is vital to how we critically understand our own practices and knowledge, and helps us develop research into new areas, and to design courses to better support students. Here, Dr Karen de Claire outlines the trip, what was covered and some of the outcomes.
The Santander funding allowed us to visit the Miami Dade University. Miami Dade is the largest HE provider in the US, with more students than any other college. They lead the way in activities to widen access to study and improve employability for people who would not be typically expected to attend university. This University has a School of Justice and has similar practice concerns and research interests; weapon crime, violence and community issues related to offending. Miami Dade University were very interested in meeting and working with us and arranged an amazing itinerary. On arrival we met with the Dean of the School of Justice and his team and toured the campus. They explained the Police and Correctional Officer Academies that they run, which are both based on the psychological concept of procedural justice. A concept we are working on currently in the UK. They also talked about their role in promotion boards for criminal justice organisations, something we as a university could consider exploring.
We followed this with attendance at a gun crime conference, meeting gang leaders, victims, police chiefs and national experts. Obviously this is a huge issue for the American people. While it was great to see all of these groups working together with academics to deal with the problem, it was concerning to hear the message that the gun control laws are not widely or effectively applied. While we were in Miami there were a number of shootings including the murders of two high school students.
On day two of our visit we were invited to observe a disaster recovery exercise by Florida Emergency Mortuary Operations Response System (FEMOR). They had created a disaster scenario (terrorist attack) and had established a body recovery and identification exercise including the use of real human remains to test out all aspects of the emergency team response (including cadaver dogs). Miami Dade trains crime scene investigators and mortuary staff. In America they do not have Forensic Psychologists and our title confused them. This misunderstanding lead to them thinking we would be comfortable surrounded by cadavers and body parts. We were able to fake insouciance. It was fascinating to see how a mobile mortuary operates following a major incident of multiple deaths and it was great to see Bella the cadaver dog in action.
The trip gave us a wonderful insight into the way American university funding works and the entrepreneurial nature of the academics work. In the School of Justice all of the staff were practitioners in their field prior to joining the university and the ethos is innovation. The motto being try anything we will support you and if it works great. The academic team is multicultural and multilingual and southern hospitality was offered by everyone we met.
As part of their practitioner contact we were taken to a low security prison. Here we met the education, drug treatment and industries staff who work tirelessly to rehabilitate men who may have been in prison all their adult life. This experience was nothing like the view of American prisons presented by the media. Staff and prisoners worked alongside each other and showed considerable respect to each other. We met a group of 20 prisoners who had undertaken a treatment programme with university staff and students. They were welcoming to us and spoke positively about the experience as did the students.
On the final day we met the Virtual Campus team their professional approach was amazing with the University offering 300 MSc programmes on line. We learned how to develop our own programmes to provide a more blended learning approach and this discussion sparked many ideas for the future.
This turned out to be a very productive visit and has the potential to lead to the following collaborations, including research and student exchanges.
Our visit ended with a meeting with red Dragon radios Dr Johnny Love, but that is another story.
Symudedd allanol i Florida
Eleni, bu dau gydweithiwr mewn seicoleg fforensig (Drs Nic Bowes & Karen de Claire) yn llwyddiannus wrth ennill cyllid ar gyfer ymweliad symudedd allanol. Mae adeiladu cydweithrediadau rhyngwladol cryf yn hollbwysig i’r modd yr ydym yn deall yn feirniadol ein hymarfer a’n gwybodaeth ein hunain, ac yn ein cynorthwyo i ddatblygu ymchwil i feysydd newydd, a dylunio cyrsiau i gynorthwyo myfyrwyr yn well. Yma, mae Dr Karen de Claire yn amlinellu’r daith, yr hyn a gwmpaswyd a rhai o’r canlyniadau.
Caniataodd arian Santander i ni ymweld â Phrifysgol Miami Dade. Miami Dade yw’r darparwr AU mwyaf yn yr Unol Daleithiau, gyda mwy o fyfyrwyr nag unrhyw goleg arall. Maent yn arwain y ffordd mewn gweithgareddau i ehangu mynediad i astudio a gwella cyflogadwyedd ar gyfer pobl na fyddai disgwyl iddynt fynychu’r brifysgol fel arfer. Mae gan y Brifysgol hon Ysgol Cyfiawnder ac mae ganddi bryderon ymarfer a diddordebau ymchwil tebyg; troseddau arfau, trais a materion cymunedol sy’n ymwneud â throseddu. Roedd gan Brifysgol Miami Dade ddiddordeb mawr mewn cyfarfod a gweithio gyda ni a threfnwyd taith anhygoel. Ar ôl cyrraedd, gwnaethom gyfarfod â Deon yr Ysgol Cyfiawnder a’i dîm a theithio o amgylch y campws. Esboniodd yr Academïau Swyddog yr Heddlu a Chywirol maent yn eu rhedeg, sy’n seiliedig ar gysyniad seicolegol cyfiawnder trefniadol. Cysyniad yr ydym yn gweithio arno ar hyn o bryd yn y DU. Buont hefyd yn sôn am eu rôl mewn byrddau dyrchafiad ar gyfer sefydliadau cyfiawnder troseddol, rhywbeth y gallwn ni fel prifysgol ystyried ei archwilio.
Dilynwyd hyn gyda mynychu cynhadledd troseddau gwn, gan gyfarfod ag arweinwyr gang, dioddefwyr, penaethiaid yr heddlu ac arbenigwyr cenedlaethol. Yn amlwg, mae hwn yn fater enfawr i bobl America. Er ei bod yn wych gweld pob un o’r grwpiau hyn yn cydweithio ag academyddion i ddelio â’r broblem, roedd yn ymwneud â chlywed y neges nad yw’r cyfreithiau rheoli gwn yn cael eu defnyddio’n eang neu’n effeithiol. Tra’n bod ni yn Miami roedd yna nifer o saethiadau gan gynnwys llofruddiaethau dau fyfyriwr ysgol uwchradd.
Ar ddiwrnod dau o’n hymweliad, cawsom wahoddiad i arsylwi ar ymarfer adfer trychineb gan System Ymateb Gweithrediadau Brys Marwdy Fflorida (FEMOR). Roeddent wedi creu senario trychineb (ymosodiad terfysgol) ac wedi sefydlu adfer ac adnabod corff gan gynnwys defnyddio gweddillion dynol go iawn i brofi pob agwedd ar ymateb y tîm brys (gan gynnwys cŵn darganfod cyrff meirw). Mae Miami Dade yn hyfforddi ymchwilwyr lleoliad troseddau a staff marwdy. Yn America, nid oes ganddynt Seicolegwyr Fforensig ac mae ein teitl yn eu drysu. Arweiniodd y camddealltwriaeth hwn atynt yn meddwl y byddem yn gyfforddus o amgylch carcharorion a rhannau o’r corff. Llwyddom i ffugio dihidrwydd. Roedd hi’n ddiddorol gweld sut mae marwdy symudol yn gweithredu yn dilyn digwyddiad mawr o farwolaethau lluosog ac roedd hi’n wych gweld Bella y ci darganfod cyrff meirw yn gweithio.
Rhoddodd y daith gipolwg gwych i ni ar y ffordd y mae arian prifysgol America yn gweithio a natur entrepreneuraidd gwaith yr academyddion. Yn yr Ysgol Cyfiawnder roedd yr holl staff yn ymarferwyr yn eu maes cyn ymuno â’r brifysgol ac mae’r ethos yn arloesol. Yr arwyddair oedd rhowch gynnig ar unrhyw beth, byddwn yn eich cefnogi ac os yw’n gweithio, gwych. Mae’r tîm academaidd yn amlddiwylliannol ac yn amlieithog a chynigiwyd lletygarwch deheuol gan bawb a gyfarfuom.
Fel rhan o’u cysylltiad ymarferydd, cawsom ein tywys i garchar diogelwch isel. Yma fe wnaethom gyfarfod â staff addysg, triniaeth cyffuriau a diwydiannau sy’n gweithio’n ddiflino i adsefydlu dynion a allai fod wedi bod yn y carchar trwy gydol eu bywydau oedolion. Nid oedd y profiad hwn yn debyg i farn carchardai America a gyflwynwyd gan y cyfryngau. Roedd staff a charcharorion yn gweithio ochr yn ochr â’i gilydd ac yn dangos cryn barch at ei gilydd. Cyfarfuom â grŵp o 20 o garcharorion a oedd wedi ymgymryd â rhaglen driniaeth gyda staff a myfyrwyr y brifysgol. Roeddent yn groesawgar i ni ac yn siarad yn gadarnhaol am y profiad fel yr oedd y myfyrwyr.
Ar y diwrnod olaf, gwnaethom gyfarfod â thîm y Campws Rhithwir, roedd eu hymagwedd broffesiynol yn rhyfeddol gyda’r Brifysgol yn cynnig 300 o raglenni MSc ar-lein. Fe wnaethon ni ddysgu sut i ddatblygu ein rhaglenni ein hunain i ddarparu dull dysgu mwy cymysg a thaniodd y drafodaeth hon lawer o syniadau ar gyfer y dyfodol.
Bu hyn yn ymweliad cynhyrchiol iawn ac mae ganddo’r potensial i arwain at y cydweithrediadau canlynol, gan gynnwys ymchwil a chyfnewidfeydd myfyrwyr.
Daeth ein hymweliad i ben gyda chyfarfod gyda Dr Johnny Love, red Dragon radios, ond stori arall yw honno.
Mae Fran Smith yn fyfyrwraig lefel 4 ar y cwrs BSc Seicoleg ym Mrhifysgol Metropolitan Caerdydd. Yma, mae hi’n dweud wrthym am rhan arall pwysig iawn o’i bywyd ble mae hi’n hyfforddi fel chwaraewr tenis cadair olwyn a sut mae Seicoleg wedi helpu gyda hyn.
Fy enw yw Fran Smith, rwy’n 18 oed, ac yn bara-athletwr elit yn y gamp tenis cadair olwyn. Cefais gyfle i fynychu fy ngwersyll tenis cadair olwyn cyntaf ar 05/06/17 ac ar hyn o bryd rwyf wedi cyrraedd y brig o blith merched iau Prydain ac yn dal safle 38 o blith merched iau y byd. Ar hyn o bryd rwyf yn fy chweched mis o chwarae ac yn ystod y cyfnod hwnnw rwyf wedi ennill yr aur mewn tenis merched iau i senglau a pharau yn y British Open yng Ngemau Ysgolion 2017.
Mae hyn yn swnio’n dipyn o gamp, tydi? Efallai fod hynny’n wir, ond wnes i ddim eistedd mewn cadair olwyn chwaraeon gyda raced tenis a datblygu’r gallu anhygoel i chwarae.
Roeddwn i eisoes wedi chwarae tenis am 13 mlynedd gan ddefnyddio fy nghoesau. Ond erbyn imi gyrraedd 16 oed roedd rhaid i mi roi’r gorau iddi oherwydd nid oedd fy nghorff yn ymdopi, ac roedd y perygl o wneud niwed difrifol i’m coesau yn rhy uchel. Am 6 blynedd rwyf wedi bod mewn brwydr gyda’m corff a gyda’r Gwasanaeth Iechyd. Gyda’i gilydd, rwyf wedi gweld 6 ffisiotherapydd (2 arbenigwr), 2 rhiwmatolegydd, 1 niwrolegydd, 1 arbenigwr clust-trwyn-gwddf (ENT) ac un meddyg teulu pryderus dros ben.
Pe byddech chi’n fy ngweld i, fyddech chi ddim yn meddwl bod gen i anabledd (rwy’n dal i aros i rywun ddod i weiddi arnaf mewn maes parcio na ddylwn i fod yn deilwng i gael bathodyn glas), yn bennaf oherwydd fy mod i’n gallu cerdded.
Mae seicoleg yn hanfodol i mi, yn enwedig gan fy mod yn dod yn fy mlaen mor gyflym yn fy nghamp. Y llynedd, roeddwn i’n drist drwy’r amser, yn fwy trist nag arfer, oherwydd doedd gen i ddim chwaraeon yn fy mywyd, ac yn teimlo bod gen i ddim byd i’w wneud, dim uchelgais, ac yn y bôn, dim bywyd. Roedd y tristwch hwn yn gwneud imi fyw yn fy mhen yn ormodol a gor-ddadansoddi pob manylyn fyddwn i’n ei gael. Wrth lwc, llwyddais i roi trefn ar fy hun cyn imi droi yn gadach llestri am weddill fy oes!
Mae fy nghwrs seicoleg wedi fy helpu i mewn sawl ffordd. Un o’r pethau pwysicaf rydw i wedi ei ddysgu yw sut mae eich gwrthwynebwyr yn mynd i ymateb mewn gêm; beth mae eu hosgo, eu hedrychiad, eu safiad, eu symudiad a’u patrwm o chwarae yn ei ddweud wrthyf. Ond mae un peth sydd hyd yn oed yn bwysicach na’r rheiny; fy seicoleg fy hun. Yr elfen fawr yw fi fy hun yn byw y tu mewn i’m pen ar y cwrt oherwydd, wrth gwrs, mewn gêm senglau, dim ond chi a’ch gwrthwynebydd sydd yno. Rwy’n gwybod nawr os oes rhywbeth yn mynd o le ar y cwrt bod angen i mi newid pethau yn y fan a’r lle, ac yna, mae angen meddwl beth all fynd o le a pham.
Enghraifft wych yw’r gystadleuaeth ddiwethaf yr oeddwn i’n cystadlu ynddi, sef y Wheelchair Tennis Nationals cyn y Nadolig 2017. Collais y gêm gyntaf achos ’mod i’n teimlo fel pe bai gen i gartŵn o geiliog deri yn fy mhen. Yn hytrach na chanolbwyntio ar fy ngwrthwynebydd, roeddwn i’n meddwl yn ormodol am yr elfennau yn fy arddull i. Ar ôl imi gael ychydig o amser i feddwl, sylweddolais mai’r rheswm roeddwn i wedi colli’r gêm oedd fod gormod o bobl wedi bod yn gofyn imi beth oedd fy nghynllun ar gyfer y gêm, sut oeddwn i am eu trechu nhw, pa strategaethau oedd gen i, ac ati. Mae gormod o hyn cyn mynd allan i chwarae yn gallu bod yn llethol.
Diogel yw dweud, erbyn imi chwarae’r gêm gysur gyntaf, roeddwn i wedi rhoi’r gorau i’r ceiliog deri, ac wedi dileu popeth o’m meddwl. Canolbwyntiais ar ddim ond chwarae tenis, ac yn sgil hynny, llwyddais i ennill y rownd gysur a churo dwy ferch sy’n cystadlu yn fy erbyn am le yn nhimau Prydain. A dweud y gwir, yn ystod y ddwy gêm honno, doeddwn i ddim yn teimlo bod gen i ymennydd, yr unig beth yn fy mhen oedd pêl denis.
Yn amlwg, dim ond camau bychain ar y daith yw’r rhain, ond mae seicoleg wedi dysgu un peth i mi, mae wedi fy nysgu i stopio a meddwl. Ac os nad oes gennych chi fawr ddim synnwyr cyffredin, fel fi, mae hynny yn rhywbeth pwysig dros ben.
One of our recent graduates recently completed writing a blog for us. Owayne worked really hard as a student, and took the opportunities that the programme offered. It is great to see how he engaged with the programme and to know what he plans to do now.
I recently graduated with a 1st class degree in Psychology from Cardiff Metropolitan University, something that from the outset I would have never imagined in my wildest dreams. My University experience began in August 2012, when I decided almost on a whim to visit the UCAS website and see if I could access higher education through the ‘clearing’ process. I was uncertain as to whether such access was possible, because I had achieved very little in college academically. I had studied Maths (grade E) and Design Technology (grade U) three years prior, evidently and my motivation was poor. After college I focused on working with children with additional learning needs, and these experiences taught me the significant role that Psychologists play in understanding developmental conditions. Owing to this, despite it being completely new to me, I decided to apply for Psychology as a subject – without having any other real plan or direction in life. I was accepted onto the Foundation in Social Sciences, which had a pathway leading to Psychology.
So there I was, ready to begin university a few weeks later in September, with a history of poor grades, and little or no understanding of the subject I was about to pursue. Therefore, it would be fair to say that when compared to many of the other people starting on the course I was not in the best of positions. However, like everyone else, I quickly realised how interesting Psychology is. When I went to the effort of reading around the various modules I had assignments for, I found it was a tolerable and even rewarding way to spend my time. One of my favourite things about Psychology is how the information you learn can relate to and be applied to real life. This is especially true of when attempting to understand the behaviours and opinions of other people. I also found that other people tend to view Psychology as a particularly interesting subject, and this increases when the matter of conversation involves the research that is conducted.
As I progressed through my first year at University, I learned that, despite past shortcomings, anyone is able to succeed so long as they choose to take an interest. Psychology is fantastic in teaching people this idea from the very outset, that is how humans learn. I feel students should be taught this much earlier in their education. Theories on how humans remember information (great for exams), how they are motivated, and perhaps most importantly, how belief that learning is always happening helps us to develop and grow our brains further (it causes us to be more effortful) is helpful to understand how we learn. I found this to be of particular importance, because I attribute my success in university to the effort and time I put into the work I handed in. However, we came to understand that putting our best into our assignments not only improved the grades we attained, but also advanced the skills and writing techniques we needed if we were to get 70+ (a first) in the long run.
To summarise, thanks to Psychology at Cardiff Metropolitan University I have a goal for my future that before I could never have even dreamed of. This year I will be gaining experience as an Educational Psychologist Assistant whilst I apply to a doctorate course in Educational Psychology. Not only is this career path very well paid, but I will also be able to continue to work with people with Additional Learning Needs, and even support them on a much larger scale, which is something I always thoroughly enjoyed. By accessing the support that is available from the tutors and various other services, my career path was offered something I had not previously thought possible – a fresh start.
It is hard to believe that it has been four years since Owayne joined our Foundation leading to BSc/BA in Social Sciences course, and three since he transferred to the BSc (hons) Psychology course here at Cardiff Met – my memory is so fresh that it seems like only yesterday!
Owayne’s determination, to work to the best of his ability in his studies, was obvious from the start. A testimony to this dedication is the fact that he won the British Psychological Society prize for Best Performing Student at his Graduation. This prize was very well deserved, along with his first class BSc (Hons) Psychology degree.
His innovative approach to his work often revealed an ability to integrate his learning effectively across different psychological perspectives. Owayne’s motivation and intellectual capacity demonstrate the potential for successful research in a postgraduate study – I look forward to hearing from him when he gains his PhD in Educational Psychology!
However not only has he been outstanding in his commitment to his own studies over the last four years, but I also know that he played an integral role in encouraging and supporting his peers throughout this time.
Owayne is a credit to this university and I have no doubt that he will succeed in his future career. It has been both a pleasure and a privilege to have been his personal tutor during this time.