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!
One of our final year students, Stef Slack, is on an Erasmus exchange with one of our partners, in Turkey. She has written a brief blog about her experience so far for us.
Can you tell me what prompted your interest in the Erasmus programme?
Two years ago I worked as a summer camp counselor in the USA. When I returned I knew that all I wanted to do was see the world! The following year I worked in an orphanage for deaf and disabled children in India, which was a massive culture shock. But it inspired me to learn more about new and different cultures, and to have lots more exciting adventures. After returning to university I saw an Erasmus advertisement and I knew this would allow me to do all of these things and more, so of course I applied straight away!
Have you learnt any Turkish? How have you found it so far?
I’ve learnt a few words, but Turkish is so different from any language I’ve been taught before. It’s hard! They are offering elementary Turkish classes at the university though so maybe I’ll get better!
Merhaba – Hello
Teşekkürler – Thank you
Su – Water
Güle güle – Goodbye
Do you speak any other languages?
Unfortunately no. I’ve met so many people here from all over the world, some who can speak three languages! So this has inspired me! I feel so lazy.
How have you prepared for your visit?
I made sure to start my dissertation before I left. I completed my ethics forms for Isik and Cardiff Met, did my interview schedule, consent forms and started my proposal. I wanted to make sure I didn’t fall behind, as I thought it might be difficult to keep on top of everything whilst also trying to adjust to Turkish life.
How familiar are you with Turkey and Turkish life? Have you been before?
I visited Bodrum in the south of Turkey about 4 years ago. It was beautiful but very different from Istanbul! It was full of English holidaymakers, whereas Istanbul is very culturally diverse.
How are you feeling about attending lectures and writing assignments in a Turkish university?
I’ve been nervous about the style of teaching, as this is my final year and I really want to get a good grade. I’ve had a few classes so far though and all of the lecturers speak good English. I know that some of my friends have teachers who don’t speak any English (even though it is meant to be an English class) so I think I’m lucky! I’ve made lots of Turkish friends in class too. They have been so friendly and welcoming to Erasmus students!
What are you most looking forward to about the visit?
I am most looking forward to seeing more of Turkey and spending more time with the people I have met. I have met people from Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Morocco, Mexico, Denmark, Belgium, The Netherlands, and Turkey of course! We have all become so close in just a few weeks, and are already planning trips to see each other again. I know I’ve made friends for life. We’ve travelled to some amazing places in Turkey – staying in the centre of Istanbul, spending the weekend on the Prince’s Islands, and road tripping down to Izmir. Last weekend we visited Pamukkale, which are natural thermal pools. It was beautiful!
Also, how are you finding it so far?
I am having so much fun I don’t want to go home! I would recommend Erasmus to any one. I feel so lucky that I have been given the chance to experience all of this.
Evidently, there are lots of great opportunities in the Erasmus programme to see more of the world, and have a great time while completing your studies. The Erasmus programme is a great way to study abroad. If you are interested in finding out more about opportunities within the Psychology Department come and speak to our Erasmus co-ordinator Clare Glennan
This year is an exciting year in the Department of Applied Psychology as we witness the launch of the Psychological Literacy Award. The Department has shown a continued dedication to developing graduate level skills and attributes of our students:
We have become increasingly aware that many of our students are involved in activities outside of the academic BSc Programme that are enhancing their skills, for example:
We would like to be able to acknowledge students who are developing their practical capabilities and will be able to do this with the Psychological Literacy Award. The award is separate to the academic qualification of the Psychology BSc (Hons) Programme, but will allow students to develop a range of transferrable skills and practical knowledge about psychology that will enhance their understanding of the discipline.
For some time now the changing nature of the graduate work market has meant that students are under increasing pressure to demonstrate employment skills and psychology students are very well placed to meet the demands of the workplace. It has been acknowledged that “over the longer term, psychologically literate graduates will be able to demonstrate personal and social responsibility that will make them highly valued global citizens” (Mair, Taylor & Hulme, 2013, p. 15). According to McGovern and colleagues (2010) psychological literacy includes: having a critical knowledge of psychology, acting ethically, communicating effectively, taking an amiable skeptic approach to problem solving and applying psychological principles to the broader community. These are qualities and skills that psychology students have which will lead to successful careers. We know that many students are volunteering, enhancing research skills and applying psychological knowledge outside of the confines of the academic degree and we want to document this psychologically literate way of engaging with the world through the Psychological Literacy Award.
The main goal of the award is to recognise the practical and transferrable skills that psychology students apply to develop their professional and local communities. In order to meet the criteria for the Psychological Literacy Award you will need to complete and evidence the following:
- 24 credits from the Participant Panel to demonstrate an applied knowledge of psychological research methods and ethics
- 30 hours of volunteering to facilitate the development of interpersonal and employability skills
- Attendance at three relevant events (such as training courses or guest lectures) to develop discipline and professional
- Attendance at the Department of Applied Psychology Careers Conference to increase employability awareness
- Attendance at the Department of Applied Psychology Student Conference to enhance critical and creative thinking
All students currently enrolled on the Psychology BSc (Hons) Programme will be eligible to take part in the award and will receive a passport for evidencing their activities during induction activities.
Students completing the Psychological Literacy Award will also still be able to complete the Cardiff Met Award, as many of our psychology students have done in the past:
We have worked closely with the Students Union to ensure that the awards synchronise and students are able to use attendance at even
ts and volunteering hours for both awards (e.g. the 30 hours volunteering for the Psychological Literacy Award can contribute to the hours needed for the Cardiff Met Award). More details about the Cardiff Met Award can be found here:
The Psychological Literacy Award will be officially launched on Thursday October the 15th by Professor Tony Chapman, President and Vice-Chancellor of Cardiff Metropolitan University. More details of the launch event will be advertised closer to the time and tickets to the event can be collected from the Taught Programmes Office (D110).
If you would like to find out more about psychological literacy and the Psychological Literacy Award please follow us on Twitter: @PsychLiteracy
Students can also find out more about the Psychological Literacy Award via Moodle.
One of most recent graduates, Jed Clarke, was fortunate enough to work as Research Assistant with us briefly, and in chatting with him it seemed like a good idea to ask him to reflect on his time as a psychology undergraduate at Cardiff Met.
Looking back, I never would have thought that I would have achieved this much in the space of three years. The undergraduate degree has allowed me to explore concepts that now I love and find things in the world that I am truly interested in. My first two years in Cardiff Met were difficult but exciting. I took on a lot, including training with the Army Officer Training Corps part time. This involved going on exercises in the Brecon Beacons over some weekends and over summer. Support in my first year was always available, whether it was personal or academic. Being able to have a personal tutor during this period was excellent, as it meant that I could find my feet during the early stages of the degree.
One of the most valuable experiences I had was being able to work with Hafal charity as part of my work and volunteering module in the second year. Hafal provide services for people with schizophrenia and bi-polar disorders and I was able to get service-users involved in community projects such as gardening, and help them acquire new skills to be able to re-join the community after they had come out of hospital. On paper this seemed daunting, but it was only when I went to go and do it that I realised that they were just people with burdens (no matter what the films and TV programmes tell you).
During my degree I especially enjoyed modules related to cognitive psychology and research methods and statistics. There was something exciting about being able to discover first-hand how another person’s brain functions, and so when it came around to choosing what I wanted to do for my final year project I was immediately overwhelmed by the options available but I did have some ideas. It was only when I met up with my supervisor, Deiniol Skillicorn, that all the pieces fell into place. I had already taken an interest in schizophrenia, and I knew that Deiniol specialised in Schizotypal traits, so after some negotiation my topic ended up being about context processing in schizotypal and depressive traits (don’t let that put you off!), and it proved to be one of the best experiences I have had. Not only was the research literature enjoyable, but conducting the research in the labs was a thoroughly gratifying experience. I was able to meet other third years properly and meet first and second years who came in to do take part in my experiment. Deiniol was a great supervisor, and Geraint Davies and other lecturers made the process personal, and much easier to deal with.
During my third year I decided that I wanted to do more research, so I decided to take on a placement for work and volunteering module working with the Digital Literacy Project part time throughout the year. This involved conducting focus groups to explore how students engage with technology when at Cardiff Met. This was particularly exciting because this was going to be included in a journal article, something I couldn’t let pass!
After I had written my dissertation, I was offered a summer position as a Research Assistant with Deiniol and Andy Watt to develop a new learning task. This was phenomenal, as this is the kind of experience that future employers/course directors would be looking for on a CV. I spent my final month at uni conducting more research, and I enjoyed being able to work in the labs for more time, as I felt my project wasn’t enough!
I have now been accepted onto an MSc in Research Methods in Southampton, something I would have only dreamed about achieving.
The support from the department has been outstanding, and the staff clearly have a passion for their subjects. They have tutored, taught and supported me through a character defining period and I wouldn’t have come this far without them. The degree has had some lows as well as highs, but that is to be expected during such a time in a person’s life.
My advice to students that are coming onto the course — or even who are already on the course –would be that “you get what you give”. Grades don’t necessarily reflect ability, but rather how much effort you put into understanding the content and the processes involved in writing, such as critical evaluation. The myth of “I’m naturally not good enough” seems to be common amongst students, and you need to be able to challenge that throughout your degree. Don’t be put off by joining extra-curricular activities, as this will only serve to increase your motivation and better your uni experience. There is enough time in the day to work, relax and party. The challenge is being able to balance all three! I would also recommend taking on the Work and Volunteering modules, as this would enhance your CV and provide you with excellent life experiences, something that I am very grateful for. Opportunities will come, but it is your responsibility to go out and find them. I am sad about leaving Cardiff Met, but I am now anticipating a new journey laid out for me in the coming year.
Jed’s supervisor, Deiniol Skillicorn has this to say:
Jed has worked hard during his three years, and clearly made the most of the opportunities in front of him. I was lucky to supervise Jed with his level 6 project that examined contextual processing abnormalities in schizotypy and depression. It was a challenging project but Jed had a willingness and commitment to tackle these challenges. This enhanced his learning experience by further developing independent thinking and problem solving skills. These skills were put to the test when Jed joined us for 4 weeks as a research assistant working on a project to develop a learning paradigm for use with people who have a diagnosis of schizophrenia. With the demands of level 6 study out of the way, Jed flourished in this new role. I took great delights in seeing one of our undergraduates develop and grow over the three years of his degree and then apply these skills as an independent researcher on this short project. I wish Jed all the best in his future and hope that our academic paths cross again.
If you would like to find out more about our Psychology BSc (Hons) Programme please have a look at: www.cardiffmet.ac.uk/psychology