UNIVERSITY FOCUS – UNIVERSITY OF LINCOLN
University of Lincoln
School of Psychology
Psychology teaching and research in the School of Psychology at the University of Lincoln has been based at Lincoln’s Brayford Pool campus since 1997. The school currently consists of 24 full-time academic staff and 12 PhD students.
The Psychology teaching accommodation includes purpose-built laboratories housing two large PC-based teaching laboratories; an observation suite for video/audio recording; a psychophysiology laboratory with two Electroencephalogram recorders (EEG/ERP), one a 16-channel EEG and the other with 64 channels; a Trans Magnetic Stimulation system (TMS); the Lincoln Infant Lab and numerous specialist research and practical laboratories as well as a library of psychological tests (e.g. Implicit Association Test). Three technicians are also at hand to aid students in the production of experimental materials and software development.
Around 550 students are enrolled on five undergraduate programmes (three-year full-time study or flexible part-time study), a general Single Honours Psychology degree, three more specialist awards comprising, Psychology with Clinical Psychology, Psychology with Child Studies, Psychology with Forensic Psychology and the psychology Major award consisting of Psychology and one other subject. ALL of our undergraduate degree programmes are recognised by the British Psychological Society (BPS) as conferring eligibility for Graduate Basis of Registration with the BPS.
Each degree is taught over two semesters per year with four modules within each semester. In the final year, as with all psychology degrees, the students need to complete an independent empirical study, which takes place over both semesters. While adhering to the needs of the BPS, the degree programme is designed to develop critical, independent, and socially aware psychology students. Hence the programme acknowledges cultural factors in its modules (Development in a Cultural Context); the need to be able to argue and justify a stance (Themes, Issues and Debates); alternative ways of approaching psychology (Current Research Issues in Psychology); the socio-political implications of psychology as a discipline (Conceptual Issues) and allows students to pursue their interests (elective modules).
We actively seek to generate a culture that is in keeping with the university logo, Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom and knowledge, in both teaching and research. We have endeavoured to enrich the learning experience of our students in a number of ways so as to develop independent critical learners. The psychology school was the first in the university to initiate a tutorial programme for all of its first year students. The aim of the tutorial programme is to equip students with both academic and transferable skills through weekly group meetings between one member of staff and a small group of students. This system provides a learning space where students can discuss ideas with other students. Also, the tutorials offer students the chance for self-exploration, development, and an understanding of the roles and responsibilities necessary to become independent learners.
The School of Psychology runs the following Postgraduate taught programmes: Doctorate in Clinical Psychology (developed in partnership with University of Nottingham and three NHS Trusts in the region), MSc Child Studies, and Postgraduate Certificate in Primary Care Mental Health Practice (with the Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Trust).
We see the discipline of psychology as heavily research-based, hence we don’t only teach research skills or wait until the final-year dissertation for students to engage in research; instead we actively involve students in researching psychological phenomena. In year two, students work together in small groups under the supervision of a member of staff on a research project that lasts for an entire semester. Also, the School takes full advantage of schemes within the University that aim to enhance the links between teaching and research in the undergraduate curriculum. The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Scheme (UROS) provides students with the opportunity to engage in real research projects, usually during the summer period, for which students can receive up to £1500 per project. In this competitive bursary scheme, the School of Psychology has been awarded more bursaries than any other in the university. Some of the successful projects includes;
- Gender Differences in co-operation: An evolutionary and meta-analytical approach
- The Mere exposure effect in high functioning adults with Autism
- Games and discrimination: An observational field analysis of voting patterns of contestants in the TV game show Weakest Link
- Can we use eye scanning patterns to assess people suffering from different learning difficulties?
We are committed to achieving excellence in scientific research with a focus on theoretical and applied research. Research within the School falls into three research groups developmental psychology; visual attention, and the psychology of health. The developmental research group focuses on cognitive, language and motor development as well as on injury prevention, face processing, social development (development of trust), comparative studies, attention and atypical development. For instance, colleagues within the School conduct research on prevention of road traffic accidents, children’s motor development and comparative work on infants, dogs and Barbary macaques.
As well as numerous other projects, Lincoln’s Infant Lab has carried out the following investigations:
- Do children categorise animals using the head or the body region?
- How do children learn their first words?
- How do children develop trust?
- Can children recognise different facial expressions in dogs?
One example of applied psychological work in the developmental research group is The Blue Dog (www.thebluedog.org) injury prevention project. This project aims to educate parents and children about the safest way to interact with their dogs within the household.
Research within the visual attention group is focused on the structures and processes underlying visual attention. Research has focused on comparing aspects of human cognition with equivalent aspects in animals. Also, the development of these mechanisms has been investigated so as to provide insight into how these cognitive functions have evolved in our own species. For instance, a current project is investigating the attentional bias for features on the left side of the face in infants, primates and dogs. This project is investigating whether human beings have this left hemiface bias from birth, whether this bias is shared by closely related primates, and whether dogs – who share at least 10,000 years of evolution with us – also show this bias.
A second focus in our research is the exploration of neural correlates associated with the effect of attention on early visual perception. The School of Psychology’s Neuroscience Laboratory is fitted with equipment for several imaging methods used for investigating these neural processes, such as EEG/ERP and TMS.
Finally, the psychology of health research group is concerned with social and psychological functioning and experience of individuals, as well as the measurement and management of psychological wellbeing. Health is considered from a broad perspective to cover normal and abnormal states including mental disorder and offending behaviour. In particular, much of the research carried out in this group is applied or practice-based and intended to be directly relevant to participants, practitioners, professionals and policy makers. Currently, research activities are in forensic psychology and applied developmental research, including work across the lifespan. For example, the forensic psychology research focuses on risk, personality disorder and attitudes towards offenders, while research into lifespan issues focus on psychosocial aspects of adolescence, pregnancy and ageing. Another research project evaluates Magstim Super Rapid Transcranial Magnetic Stimulator’s (rTMS) therapeutic potential for Depression, Schizophrenia, Epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease.
Our PhD students are principally conducting research within these three research groups. At present, we have postgraduates investigating grooming exchange and social cognition in Barbary macaques in Morocco; the role of left gaze bias in facial communication in human infants and domestic dogs; how the concept of social inclusion is used within the forensic services and the implications this has around issues of risk prediction and management; differential gaze behaviour towards sexually preferred and non-preferred body images; and dog gaze patterns in response to potential facial and bodily threat cues, etc. The School also undertakes research outside of these fields. For instance, we have postgraduates working within a non-experimental framework (e.g. social constructionist perspective) in the area of sheltered housing for older adults focused on gardening and identity. Another postgraduate is looking at how terrorism is constructed in scientific (psychological), media and lay discourse.
The School’s culture is built on our recognition that education is about people – students, staff and our communities. We make links with local FE institutions (for instance, we have contact with John Leggott College in Scunthorpe and have put on day events for a number of their students). The School has also organised a FE psychology teaching forum. Each year the School hosts a 2-day conference for all FE psychology teachers within the region (Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Derbyshire, South and East Yorkshire). The Trent and Yorkshire conference for FE Teachers of Psychology is free to all Members of the forum; membership itself is free (see below for contact details). The aim of this conference/forum is to share and develop good teaching practices, and update lecturers about the Psychology FE curriculum and innovations in psychology. On our part, we see this conference as a way of smoothing students’ transition to higher and further education by keeping teachers informed about further education in general and our School in particular. Thus another goal of the forum is the widening of participation in higher education. The commitment we have to making links with FE lecturers was strengthened further when The School of Psychology at Lincoln hosted and actively contributed to the ATP conference of 2008.
At our local FE psychology conferences, presentations and workshops are not only given by the forum members and Lincoln psychology staff, but also our students. Credit is given to such students in terms of a certificate which they can use in seeking employment.
Excellentia Per Studium
With these and other activities we aim to produce the learning landscape that achieves the university motto, Excellentia Per Studium – Excellence through Studies.
To join the Trent and Yorkshire forum for FE Teachers of Psychology please e-mail CGillard@lincoln.ac.uk with your contact details. For any other information about the School of Psychology at Lincoln please see our webpage at http://www.lincoln.ac.uk/psychology/