As a Psychology department proudly part of a Welsh university in the capital of Wales, we have wanted to reflect the language heritage of many of our students for a number of years. We have translated student work, assessments and all sorts of things, but without the take up that we really desired. It was fairly obvious what was missing, staff who were confident enough to work and teach through Welsh. In the last two years, we have made staff appointments that have enabled us to start to build what we wanted. In the first year, we now have tutorials and seminars in Welsh, which help students work in and think in two languages. We offer service learning placements in Welsh in both the second and third years, offering students the chance to work in the community with Welsh speakers.
The addition of Welsh language opportunities strengthens and enables closer links with communities across Wales, and adds to the diversity and vibrancy of Psychology at Cardiff Met. In the following piece, our colleague Dr Mirain Rhys, talks about Welsh language, her role and how she is working to build more Welsh language content into our curriculum.
Welsh Psychology at Cardiff Metropolitan
It always surprises me that sometimes I have to explain that I come from a home where only Welsh is spoken, and that English is my second language. I was raised in a town where over 70% of the population are fluent in Welsh. I was educated solely through the medium of Welsh until I was 18. I speak Welsh every day and I take pride explaining that I am from a minority language background, and that my passion for our country’s language maintenance and revitalisation led me to my career.
And it’s not just me! Almost a quarter of the population of Wales are educated through the medium of Welsh. They learn subject terminology and are instructed through the language and by the time they finish compulsory education, each individual should be bilingual. After students finish school, education becomes a choice. There are many choices to make of course, and some will find themselves deciding on and applying to a University. In Wales, another choice is beginning to gain momentum – do you study a degree through the medium of Welsh or not?
The Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol (Welsh national college) is an organisation that works across all Welsh Universities. Its main aim is to provide Welsh medium higher education in a variety of subjects. There have been various success stories, and students across Wales are now able to study part or all of their arts, sciences, social sciences or health degree through the medium of Welsh. It makes a lot of sense to continue studying in the language that most of your education was conducted in. You are already aware of the terminology involved and will most probably be a competent user of said terminology in English as well through your degree studies. Bilingualism serves you well as a graduate in an ever-competitive labour market. Many industries need Welsh speaking employees to carry out their business, and this is especially true of Health Sciences graduates. Psychology is an important part of health sciences. Imagine wanting to talk to someone about difficult things in your life, but having to do so using words and terms you don’t feel as comfortable with.
I have now been a member of staff at the department of Applied Psychology for just over a year. One remit of my position as a Welsh speaking Psychology lecturer is to support students who have completed most of their education through Welsh and are now transitioning to a very different linguistic experience.
This year, we have begun to provide Welsh medium provision. The aim is to pave the way for those students who might feel that going from being educated at school or college in one language to being educated at degree level though another, as well as all the other anxieties that come with starting at Uni, is overwhelming.First year students are offered a bilingual tutorial where their study skills are developed to aide with their content lectures. Students are provided with the same English medium material as the other groups, but we have discussions in Welsh which engages their translanguaging skills, one of the many benefits of speaking more than one language!
Our aim for the future is to continue to work closely with the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol to develop credited modules which will be available through the medium of Welsh. I am currently researching the feasibility of developing Welsh medium provision for the whole school with the aim of providing Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol with insightful data on the challenges, and the opportunities, of incorporating the Welsh language into many willing departments. What we’re doing within the Psychology department will help with these developments and there will be more blog posts to follow on these exciting developments.
Of course, not all students can speak Welsh, and not all that can want to use it within their education. But the element of choice which is vitally important in every minority language situation will be incorporated further into Psychology at Cardiff Metropolitan University so that each student can continue their educational journey through either of Wales’ official languages.
In the summer of 2017, Mirain attended the Eisteddfod with colleagues from Psychology, and was caught on camera by S4C:
I am very pleased with the way that we are outwardly supporting Welsh now, and this can be seen reflected in comments from our colleague Dr Delyth James:
I joined the Applied Psychology Department at Cardiff Metropolitan University in 2015, having worked at Cardiff University for over ten years. There at the School of Pharmacy, I developed the Welsh language provision across all 4-years of the Pharmacy Degree plus postgraduate programmes, focusing mainly on developing pharmacy students’ and practitioners’ communication and consultation skills in Welsh (or bilingually).
When I joined Cardiff Met Uni, I was delighted to find a welcoming and supportive environment to continue with this work and expanding Welsh language provision to other healthcare professionals and psychology students. We work closely with colleagues across other Universities in Wales and the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol. For example, Mirain and I recently delivered a Welsh language workshop for Medical and Pharmacy students at Cardiff University on the topic of ‘Addiction’.
I’m sure Mirain and Dan would agree with me that there is a real buzz and sense of enthusiasm in the University for nurturing and using our Welsh language skills on a day to day basis in the workplace and in preparation for students’ employment opportunities in Wales after they graduate.
There is a lot of enthusiasm for supporting and encouraging all our students to develop skills for the future, and we take pride in the excellent work students do with all our placement partners. We want to provide students with the necessary skills for the future, and one way we can do that is in recognising the importance of language in engaging with the communities around us. The Welsh initiatives we have started enrich our department, and have broad consequences for us all beyond are everyday work. I look forward to showcasing more of the language and placement work of the department!
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.
Developing the cultural capacity of Cardiff Metropolitan University students through internationalising the curriculum is a key theme in our learning and teaching strategy. As such, our Psychology Study Abroad Week went a long way toward achieving this. Dr Clare Glennan and Dr Tina Alwyn accompanied 11 Psychology students from Levels 4,5 and 6 to Athens during the Easter break. City University College (CUC) and our Cardiff Metropolitan students integrated very well and discussed the importance of culture and diversity within the discipline. CUC and Cardiff Metropolitan students developed relevant presentations and delivered these through joint symposiums. There was debate about internationalisation and what this meant for the students and how their future careers in Psychology would be influenced by these factors. The staff from both universities met and discussed how internationalisation could be facilitated through shared experiences, teaching and joint teaching. All in all this was an enriching and enjoyable experience for all involved.
I am a second year Cardiff Metropolitan Student, who was accepted to go on the Psychology Study Abroad week. This took place in City Unity College (CUC) Athens in April this year. It was an amazing experience, amongst the many highlights were the cultural historical sights and exploring the amazing city that it Athens; it helped that it was 24 degrees and bright sunshine!
At first when I was told we were going I was very excited but the thought of sitting in on lectures and contribute to a symposium was daunting and I even thought It might have been a bit boring. However I could not have been more wrong, the lecturers were fascinating, and we were particularly impressed by one who presented a lecture on forensic psychology. The symposium was also really great. It was interactive and offered such an eye opening experience in how both cultures view each other and themselves.
It was also an excellent opportunity to meet the Athenian students who are studying the same Psychology degree. They were all so welcoming and friendly and we had a real laugh with them and bonded really well. The trip gave me a real insight into how other cultures live, it was fascinating to see first-hand the everyday lives of people from another culture. I feel I have been able to apply this into my work; thinking critically about psychological research and its applicability to other cultures.
I was also really taken a back at how close all of the students that went on the trip became. It was an opportunity for Cardiff Metropolitan students from across all levels to come together and bond as a group. It was also lovely to meet the Athens student, some of whom I have stayed in contact with and will probably remain my friends for life.
If I could recommend you do one thing this year it would be to apply for the Athens trip!
This year I was able to attend the Psychology study abroad week, it was amazing experience and I thought I would share with you!
Firstly, I really enjoyed the lectures, considering psychology from a different perspective was so interesting. During our visit we were able to present at an Internationalisation Symposium. In preparation our lecturer split us into groups and each group were assigned a task. The focus for my group was looking at the impact of child poverty in Wales and illustrating from a psychological perspective, how poverty can impacts upon the individual. The symposium and the visit in general highlighted the importance of culture to me especially after the internationalisation discussion and this has helped me so much with my academic understanding of culture, especially when considering social psychology.
The Greek students and lecturers made us feel so welcome at the CUC and it was really nice talking to them about their psychological interests and ideas. This really helped spark some ideas from my dissertation for next year!
Finally, the group of Cardiff Met students we went with were amazing, we all got on so well and we have all stayed in contact, speaking almost every day! The trip was a great way to meet people in higher and lower years as I was able to give advice to the L4 students but also seek advice for module and dissertation ideas from the L6 students.
Thank you so much for the opportunity to attend, I really enjoyed it and found it such a valuable experience!
Dr Dan Heggs, Programme Director for Psychology, says “It’s great to see that out staff and students have once again visited CUC in Athens. As we build the links between the two programmes it is clear that we can all learn from one another, and that the opportunities given to the students from both colleges to come together enables them to think about how psychology can be applied in broader cultural contexts.” Dr Amie-Louise Prior, Moderator for the BSc Psychology Programme at CUC, says “This trip provides an excellent opportunity for students to gain experience of teaching and learning within a different cultural setting. Symposium and discussion sessions encourage students to discuss and share their ideas relating to the topic of Psychology and develop presentation and networking skills.”
We look forward to further trips to build the relationship with Athens and to allow more students to experience psychology in Athens!
Looking back over the year, I have been taken aback with what I have achieved since completing my BSc (Hons) Psychology degree and graduating from Cardiff Metropolitan University in 2015. I was lucky enough to have secured a position with the Office for National Statistics which was dependent upon my graduating with a 2:1 degree – which I did!
Upon starting the job I was wondering ‘Would my degree be useful for this job?’ and ‘Would this degree help me progress further?’. The answer to the both questions was yes. When I started with the ONS I had a case of the statistical jitters. As it turns out, the experience was great and the ONS was an excellent stepping stone to starting my career in the right direction.
I worked in Methodology for the ONS. This is the department that quality control all the methods used to gain the data and fix any problems that may occur. It was a demanding role and I had to use a variety of statistical methods that I learned from the research and statistics part of the Psychology degree. I then had to build up my statistical knowledge, for example to learn more about weighting and sampling. In addition I had to learn coding for specialist statistical software to be able to analyse and assess whether the statistics were correct or not. Another area that was important from the Psychology degree was report writing. In the ONS I was required to present my results in professional reviews and reports. As a student it is sometimes difficult to understand the importance of report writing especially when the deadlines come closer, however I found that I was in good stead to clearly communicate my findings.
I was proud to be able to work on a few important projects that influenced decisions within the Government. I was also keen to develop my skills and so I got involved with different groups including the Research, Analytical and Statistician Committee and the Positive Action Group. I was President for the Psychological Society at Cardiff Met and involved with the BPS which I feel gave me the confidence to be part of these ONS committees.
As my time drew close to the end of my ONS contract I knew I had to start looking for another job or apply for a promotion. So I applied for a position within Ministry of Defence working for the Defence, Equipment and Support Group. I attended the assessment day having met the competitive job specification, and there were lots of psychologists there. Six weeks later I got the promotion with the MoD as Commercial Officer (Management Level) dealing with budgets of up to £14 million.
All in all, I found that all of the degree was relevant in my working environment. I use writing skills I learned from the degree as well as being open minded to different theories. The degree taught me good work management skills, which I needed on a daily basis due to the high demand of work. I also found that the Psychology degree helped me with my communication skills, which is essential in any job and helped me to get the promotion.
My advice for students is to start planning ahead. If you have the time, take the opportunity to get involved with committees and expand your work experience. Doing a degree with Cardiff Metropolitan University gave me this opportunity and the lecturers there gave me the chance to make my life a better one.
In the spring term of 2012 the Department of Applied Psychology ran a volunteering fair for students. The idea was to bring in third sector organisations so that students could find out about different volunteering opportunities. It went well, and while chatting about it later someone had the idea that we could build on the fair by having a full day that would include information for each level, keynote speakers and, of course, the volunteering fair. At the end of February, we held our third undergraduate conference, with attendees from all years and the Foundation in Social Sciences Programme too. We seem to have come a long way in four years.
The day started at 1030 with around 300 delegates in the main hall. Dr Dan Heggs introduced the day, before a brief talk by careers, and then the keynote speaker, who had come all the way from Aberystwyth University. Saffron Passam talked about her doctoral research, looking at employability and identity. Saffron started with outlining a brief history of employability considering a shift in thinking from a focus on the unemployable, to the idea of a career and improving productivity as part of human capital, before introducing the idea of the protean worker who has choice, skills and is flexible. Saffron then talked about the findings from her research, looking at what employability means for students completing degrees. Saffron’s talk was an excellent way to start the day, with a focus on skills and how they can be seen but also as a way of thinking about how psychology can be used to understand and grasp complex issues. Saffron’s enthusiasm and care for her topic shone through, and that was really appreciated by all.
The year groups then went their different ways, for sessions that would help them prepare for the next level of the programme, and also to later meet volunteer partners over lunch at the fair. For students already volunteering it was an opportunity to see other areas of work, and for those considering where they might like to gain experience they could see a number of our partners. There was also an opportunity to find out about Erasmus exchanges and applied projects with partners.
The final session of the day included presentation from Rachel Roberts and Stuart Abbott about the Healthy University initiative, and was followed by the keynote talk by Dr Debbie Clayton entitled Psychology Isn’t Just About Reading Minds. These two showed how we all need to be able to recognise our skills, and to be able to work together to improve our environments. Debbie talked about COAL (http://www.cardiffmet.ac.uk/health/research/Pages/Center-for-Outdoor-Activities-and-Leisure.aspx) and her research in outdoor activity showing how outdoor and green exercise, linking how psychology students have the skills and knowledge appropriate for helping meet policy agendas for the Welsh Government’s Future Generations Act (http://gov.wales/topics/people-and-communities/people/future-generations-bill/future-generations-act-video/?lang=en).
Catherine Harrison from Career Development Services said ‘Being part of the conference and having an information stand at the employability event was a great way of meeting students, talking to them about work experience opportunities and making job applications.’
The presentations at the beginning and end of the day offered an opportunity to critically reflect on the purpose the day, programme and skills gained through it. As always, thanks need to go to Alison, Helen G., Nick, Leanne E., and Shamima, and staff and especially students for helping out on the day. We look forward now to next year!
Research provides the foundation for understanding psychological phenomena that anyone interested in our discipline will read or hear about. It also provides skills and techniques to explore and understand social phenomena and also to ascertain whether claims about the world are valid, reliable and ultimately true.
This week witnessed we held our inaugural Poster Conference in which Level 6 students presented posters of their final year research projects to members of staff and also Level 4 and 5 students. It was a fantastic opportunity for them to show their enthusiasm and knowledge of their chosen project to an eager audience who may be participating in those studies (Level 4 and 5 students) or marking their work. Further, it gave an opportunity for Level 4 and 5 students to see what kinds of studies can be undertaken within our department which should provide plenty of food for thought when considering their research projects over the next two years.
To round off the event, our keynote speaker was Dr Katherine Shelton from Cardiff University who spoke about her research looking at the background and needs of young people who have been homeless. The timely talk was an excellent example of how psychology research and theory can be applied to better understand important social issues and how this can lead to better support for people in need.
At the end of the day, staff and students enjoyed mince pies and mulled wine to celebrate Xmas and the end of term.
Dr Dan Heggs said “This was an excellent event, which helps bring all students together. It fits really well with the careers conference we have later in the year, and reminds us about how psychology touches on so many areas of life. I enjoyed the way that the variety of student projects could be seen and was really impressed by the quality of their work and range of their interests. They all did really well”
Dr Nick Perham, with help from Shamima our administrator, deserves big thanks for arranging and organising everything.
We look forward to our second Poster Conference next year. We would also like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a wonderful Christmas and a very happy 2016!
At the end of March 2012 we published our first blog, https://psychcardiffmet.wordpress.com/2012/03/. Over the years the blog has achieved our goals of providing longer pieces of news from the department, from the programmes, and, of course, from our students. Three years later we have now reached our 50th blog, having published, on average, more than one blog per month.
In that time, we have had more than 8500 views, with visitors from over 80 countries. Unsurprisingly, most visitors to the site are from the UK, yet we have had visitors from all corners of the globe, including Scandinavia, Russia, Japan, to Australia, many African countries and then South North American countries too. The map below is a glimpse of our global readership:
In that time we have posted on social events, graduation and the undergraduate conferences we have organised. More excitingly, and often with more views, are posts from students. We have had posts on student projects, on attending conferences, on Erasmus exchanges, and on volunteering experiences across the world.
Looking back through three years of posts is a nice reminder of the things that we have been doing, and also of things that our students have done. The best thing about the blog is how it tells stories of what we are about in supporting students to get the degrees they want, and especially how students get involved in all sorts of things and do brilliantly in so many ways. Dr Lalage Sanders, Head of the Department of Applied Psychology, writes: “We are so proud of our blog, of the successes it describes, the variety of topics we cover, especially the spotlight on individual student stories and we are thrilled by worldwide extent of our readership!”
We look forward to the future and the next 50 posts, and hope that the variety and range of events continues to grow and that students continue to astound us with all that they are doing. Of course, if you’d like to let us know then please do get in touch, and we may well ask for a post from you!