Friday, 25 October 2013

Well it’s been a while…

Okay, so I know it’s been a while since I've last blogged (okay a LONG while) but it’s honestly not my fault!! Lots has been happening since I last updated you all, and I promiseeee that over the course of the next two blogs I shall update you soooo much you’ll be sick of me by the end of it :P (well I hope you won’t actually be sick…but you know what I mean :P).

Okay, sooo, after I finished my degree I started looking for jobs pretty much straight away. I think I averaged applying for about 10-15 jobs per day, and I literally must of only heard back from about 2% of those :(. It did get really disheartening after a while, as I worked so hard throughout my degree to get my First, and I tried to work as many jobs alongside it as well to try and build up my experience, yet I still wasn't hearing back from jobs I was more than qualified to do :(. I did hear back from two jobs though, the first was an amazing PhD Scholarship at the University of West London, in my specialist field of eyewitness testimony! It was such a great opportunity, but unfortunately it was offering too little money for me to live on (£7000 a year!!) so even though I didn't get the job/scholarship in the end I wasn't too upset as due to financial circumstances I would have probably had to turn it down anyway. 

The other job I interviewed for was for an equally amazing job at the prestigious Anna Freud Centre.  I was a bit surprised that I actually got an interview for this position as I only applied by mistake lol :P!! Basically, I thought I was applying for a Research Assistant Job (for which I was qualified), but I accidentally applied for a Senior Research Assistant position (which I definitely was NOT qualified for), I rectified it straight after and applied for the lower down position, but I strangely only heard back about the Senior position. I went along to the interview for the senior job anyway (despite knowing I wasn't qualified), as I thought it would be good experience (and I would recommend you guys go to as many interviews you get as its all practice!), but despite the interview going very well, I unfortunately didn't get that job either in the end :( The interview team were really nice though, and they gave me such good feedback which I intend to utilise within my future interviews, but they said I was the only one that they interviewed which didn't have a PhD so they had to go with the more experienced candidate. As rejection reasons go, I’d say that’s not a bad one :P

So after trying miserably to get a Psychology job for months and months, it got to the point where I was starting to panic about my future, as my job working in the Enquiry Unit was due to finish September/October time, and I was really getting worried about paying rent after that :(. Soooo long story short, I decided to take a change of pace and get into teaching. Whilst Psychology is (and always will be) my one true passion, teaching is something which has always interested me and was something I planned to do much later on in my life (think mid-fourties, grey hair, kids, etc…that kind of later on), due to me not having much luck in the Psychology field job-wise, I decided to move my teaching aspirations forward a couple of decades LOL. 

And that’s what I've been doing for the last two months :P it’s going really well so far, and I’m about to start my massive 8 week placement in a few weeks, but as I can already see this blog is dragging on a bit, I think I’ll leave all of my training-teacher tales for my next blog (which I’m going to write really soon, PROMISE), I’ll also talk you through the process of applying for the PGCE as well as my tips for tackling those damn Skills Tests, so hopefully that’ll be of use to some of you :P
But for now, I wish you adieu  :)


Monday, 29 April 2013

Dissertationnnnnnnnnnnn (part two) :)

So here it is, as promised, the second part of my dissertation blog, designed to give you an insight into what a psychology dissertation is really like!! I’ll focus my next blog more on personal thingy and how me submitting my dissertation went :)

So last time I finished off by talking about applying for ethical approval, so once you been granted ethical approval, you are then able to start conducting your study.

Depending on your design of your study/when you get the approval you may be able to start collecting data straight away. A few of my friends opted to do online studies, as then once they had set up their questionnaire online they could just Facebook/tweet/email the link over, and those that got approval early managed to start in summer and get lots of participants very quickly!! Although one con associated with doing an online study, as those that were conducting studies specifically using student participants found it slightly more difficult, as getting the students to actually complete it did prove challenging especially if the questionnaire  was quiet lengthy.

Alternatively you can go down the traditional route of booking a lab, and inviting participants, through the participation scheme, to book a time to come down and complete the study. Although again, this can be slightly problematic, especially in term two, as there always seems to be a shortage of willing first years to complete the studies. However, if you do get your ethical approval quickly you’ll be able to have access to booking the labs sooner, and subsequently make an earlier start on collection (notice a theme here :P the EARLIER THE BETTER!!)

Although to address some of the problems people experience this year in terms of data collection the lecturers are now looking at ways to promote participation in order to make it easier for students to collect their data, so hopefully by the time you guys need it it’ll be easier :).

Now once you have your data, they next step is inputting it and analysing it. If you did it online you’ll probably be using a programme called qualtrics, which very handily allows you to extract the data to SPSS without much difficulty.

Whereas, if you've collected your data by hand (questionnairres etc…) you’re going to have to input it on SPSS yourself…This really isn't as tricky as most people think, especially if it’s just a standard questionnaire. Say for example it had 5 questions, the easier way to input it would be to label the columns in SPSS as follows: participant number, participant code, gender (dummy coded, 0 &1) age, and then Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4 and Q5. The participant number would just start at 1, and then each participant after would be 2, then 3, then 4 etc…as by adding this extra column whatever you do to your data, you still have a way to quickly sort it back to its original format.  Just remember to save it at every possible moment, as SPSS is notoriously unreliable and with crash and erase your data without notice…you have been WARNED :P

Once you have all your data nicely inputted the next stage is the analysis. This is the part which strikes fear into the heart of many, as soooo many people don’t realise that statistics plays a large part in psychology. I was fortunate as I have always liked maths (the geek that I am :P) but I know this is the part that most people in my year struggled with.

Your supervisor is always on hand to help if you’re not sure about anything, but they do prefer it if you at least attempt it yourself first. My top tips to make this section a breeze is to first of all find the appropriate test for your data. To do this you’ll need to know what your IV and DV is/are and whether the are categorical (e.g. female/male, yes/no etc.) or continuous (e.g. IQ). Once you know this you can use handy little websites like this: which can help give an indication of what statistics you need to run :)

Once you know that, the BEST thing you could do is to refer to a really good statistics book!!!

My favourite book this year was this one:

By Howitt and Cramer, as they really just put things in a way I could understand, and it was one of the very few ones that actually explained how to do a binomial logistics regression, which is what I needed to do in my study.

The other book which most of my lecturers recommended throughout my three years was this one:

By Andy Field, which is a really good overall statistics book, (with a few amusing anecdotes) and quiet a lot of my friends found it a great help :) 

I was also contacted a few months ago by a lovely gentleman who has also written a psychology book and was kind enough to send me a copy of it to read:

Unfortunately due my super strict spam filter I only received the email the other day, but thoroughly enjoyed reading the book and it does also have some really good tips on statistics (amongst other things) if you want to give it a read :)

So, once you've done your statistics, you can move on to the write up. This pretty much follows the same layout as every single lab report you would have had to do in first and second year, so I won’t go into too much detail :P but I will say make sure you read the guidelines/marking criteria, just so you don’t lose marks over stupid little errors!!

But yeahhhhhh, that’s my explanation to writing a psychology dissertation! I hope it has helped at least one of you!! If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment and I’ll get back to you as soon as :)

Regardless, good luck with it if this is something you’re doing soon!!

Byeeeeeeeeeee xx

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Dissertationnnnn (part one)

Sorry for the delay in getting this blog to you guys, I've been swamped with my dissertation, which coincidentally is the topic of this blog :). I've touched on what this involves before but I've never really gone into detail about what is expected from a psychology dissertation, so here it is :)

It’s important to note that what I'm talking about here only applies to what I've had to do this year for my project but it may change in the years to come. Also in psychology they refer to the dissertation as 'final year project' and those terms are used interchangeably though out both the course and this blog :).

The beginning of the process actually starts towards the end of second year. Within the research methods module, we had a mini presentation from the psychology lecturers who explained a little about the past research they've conducted and what their main areas of interests are. From this it's normally pretty obvious who you’re going want as your supervisor and you can then set up an appointment with them to discuss your ideas for your project before officially requesting them as your supervisor.

A few weeks later you have to submit a form detailing a rough outline of your project and who your first and second choice of supervisor would be. They usually try to accommodate your first choice as much as possible, but sometimes they can't, hence the reason behind also selecting a second choice.

My top tip would be to pick a research area that you're really REALLY interested in, as it really does help you, in term of motivation, if you're genuinely interested in it, otherwise working on your project can begin to seem like a chore! Additionally, it's always a good idea to pick your supervisor based on their research area, rather than which lecturer you get on best with. It may seem silly but lots of people have done it in the past and then struggled in terms of finding previous research as their supervisor isn't familiar with the research topic they've chosen. Obviously having a good balance of the two is the ideal situation :)!

For me making this choice was pretty straight forward, as where I had done research work in the past, into face recognition and eyewitness testimony, I was pretty set on having this as the topic for my dissertation. There was only one main lecturer who specialised in this area, so everything sort of fell into place for me :)

The next aspect of the dissertation is getting ethical approval, and this process is slightly more complicated as what it involves varies depending on what you're doing for your project and the risks associated with it. Unlike most other university courses, a psychology dissertation isn't just writing a loooong essay, it actually involves designing and conducting a piece of research, then analysing the results before writing it all up. Because this process involves the testing of participants, you need to get ethical approval before you're allowed to begin.

As previously mentioned this process can vary greatly. The majority of projects only need to get approval from the department's ethic board, but if it involves some sort of risk, or is intended to be conducted on 'vulnerable' people such as children under 16, this needs additional approval before it can be given the green light to go ahead.

In order to get ethical approval, you need to provide a project summary, risk assessment form, and the actual ethics forms themselves. As well as those, you also need to provide copies of all the forms and measures you intend to use within your study, such as information and consent form, debrief from, and all your questionnaires. (It’s not as easy as it sounds, trust me :p) This year there were numerous opportunities to submit your ethics forms, starting in July right though till like October. My advice, GET. THEM. IN. EARLY.  I really really can't stress that point enough, and you have no excuse not too as you have the wholeeeeeee summer to work on them!

I managed to submit mine late August, which meant when September rolled around and all the new first year students started I was able to swoop in and collect the majority of my data before September was even finished. Where as some people I know left it till like the last submission date and they're still struggling to collect data now, even though our project is actually due in 3 weeks!! The problem with submitting later on in the year is that the majority of people's projects involve getting the first and second year psychology students to participate in the studies and after a few months of doing all of the third years' projects they just get bored and don't want to do anymore!! So try to submit your ethics as soon as possible and you shouldn't have a problem.

Lastly, once you submit your ethics you'll get it sent back to you with some type of pass. Either it'll pass straight away (very rare),  or be sent back with a conditional pass (most common) which just means you need to make a few minor changes, normally it's just things like spelling or correct layout/format etc and your supervisor can just sign off these changes without it having to go to the board again. OR it could come back rejected, which means major changes need to be made, and it need to be resubmitted again before it'll get approved.

Mine luckily came back with conditional changes, as I needed to change the term 'participant number' to 'participant code' and correct one of my questionnaires as the last question got cut off when I formatted it, so luckily they were simple to change, and tbh as long as you put the work in before hand, the majority of them come back like that :).

Wow, I actually can’t believe how much I've written, and I’m not even halfway through talking about the dissertation!!  Well done if you've managed to read all of that so far, but I think I’ll have to leave it there for now, and in my next blog I'll continue talking about the dissertation, particularly more about the actual testing procedure and write up of it :)

 Ta Ta for now xxx

Friday, 1 March 2013

Personal updates :)

It’s been a while since I've written about what’s going on in my personal life, so here are the highlights :)

It was my birthday a few weeks ago, which was nice but slightly stressful as the weather decided it didn't want to cooperate and snowed heaps the day before. This meant that one of my best friends Caitlin, who was coming up from Cardiff, got completely snowed in so she couldn't make it in the end :(. My mum wasn't very well at the time either so there was only a few of us there, although it was still good fun :) so not all bad!! To make up for it, Caitlin came up a couple of weeks later, and the two of us, plus my other best friend Denise, had a day out in Bluewater instead :). It was really good as we managed to get free tickets to see Wreck it Ralph, which was actually really really good, despite Denise’s insistence that it wouldn't be. And then we went to TGI’s for a meal, which was yummy, but it wasn't as nice as the previous times I've been as they were super busy and we only got our starter halfway through our main!! Luckily I had a couple of vouchers with me (as always) so we got the starter and a dessert each for free, which did soften the blow after the long waiting time!

A few weeks ago, my colleagues in the Enquiry Unit held a bake sale to raise money for the British Heart Foundation. Some of us made cakes to be sold, and the others just paid to eat them instead, I did both and probably ate more cakes then I actually made, but it was all for a good cause (or that’s what I’m telling myself anyway! :D) overall we managed to raise a grand total of £171!!

Below is a picture of some of the cakes we sold at the bake sale, (mine are the ones on the bottom- I know they look a bit squished but that wasn't my fault!)

Speaking of hearts, Valentine’s Day was really nice this year :) my boyfriend and I decided to go out on the Tuesday instead to avoid paying the ridiculous amount they charged on the actual day. It was really good though :) we went to my favvvvvourite Turkish restaurant (the same one I went to for my birthday) and had lots of yummy food :) I also got some lovely surprise presents, such as an orchid and a back massager. So I was happy bunny indeed :)

Anywayyy, I hope you guys are good, and that you had a good valentine’s day :) My next blog is going to be more academiccccc, promise!! Talk to you laterrrrr x

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Freebies and more :)

Wellll I said I was going to talk about freebies following on from my previous blog as well as give a few updates on my life, so here it is :)

FREEBIES: Now these are, as the name implies, free :) which definitely makes it one of my favourite money saving tips! These freebies aren't enough to live on, but they certainly help provide a treat or two along the way!! The majority of freebies I tend to get the most are kindle e-books, cinema tickets and, most enjoyably, food :D. These freebies are usually gained in one of two ways; either you enter your details and get sent the freebie (by post or electronically), or you get given a voucher to print out to exchange for the free products. You'll be surprised at just how much companies are willing to give away to help promote their products, especially around the holidays (Xmas/valentine’s day etc.). For example, last Christmas, Pringles (the crisp not the clothing brand :P) had this advent calendar on Facebook, and every day you could open a ‘can’ and potentially win a prize...I did it most days whilst on the bus as it literally took 2 seconds to do, and as a result I won a variety of prizes including a Pringles speaker, a £10 iTunes voucher and an e-book voucher (to buy books for my kindle with). All of which came in very handy...not bad for a couple of minutes work, eh?

Other freebies I've got recently include: Christmas tree anti drop spray, a Brother Cider sports bag, £25 organic mini skin care starter kit, £20 train fare vouchers, 80 drink aware plastic cups (which went to the cheerleading club) £30 worth of takeaway, XXL BBQ papa johns pizza, Thornton’s chocolate Santas, 15ml Lacoste perfume, mini speakers, free cinema tickets to see: The Hobbit, Les Miserables, life of pi, I give it a year, and the list goes on and on….

Before you get the wrong idea or anything, these things weren't gained by spending hours and hours searching for them (I don't have time for that :p); all I would do, when I was bored in lectures or on the bus, was quickly browse Facebook and see posts about these things via bargain pages like '10 ways to have more money as a student', or the company's facebook page directly, put in my details, and voila free stuff!! It really is as easy as that and anyone can do it!!!

To prove it, when my boyfriend and I were going out earlier this week we got to Bromley a little bit too early for the cinema, so decided to look around the shops for a bit. Since neither of us had much money we decided to see how much we could get for free in the space of like 20 minutes...the results are below:

These things were gained by signing up to their Facebook site/using the codes on O2 priority moments! Again, not bad for 20 minutes work! These went down perfectly when we went to the cinema/restaurant...(where coincidently the restaurant had a 50% off deal on).

So now you know all my tips and tricks I would seriously recommend trying them out for yourself :)!
Now moving on to the updates about meeeee (I'll stick to the academic updates for now, and I'll do the personal stuff in my next blog, promiseeeeeee)

Second term is well and truly underway and although I only have 2 lecture/seminars this term (Law and Psychology and Advance Statistics) it seems like I'm busier than ever!! I think it's because I have the ever present thought of my dissertation looming over my head! My draft is due in in a mere few weeks and I still have soooo much to do in terms of the write up!

My courses are going okay though, the Law and Psychology module is really interesting and ties in with my dissertation really well as we're currently looking a lot at the unreliability of eye witness testimony. Advanced Statistics is okayy, it's kind of been a repeat of what we did in second year at the moment, so I'm hoping that once we get into it a bit more it should pick up hopefully :)

But yeahhhh, that's all I have time for now!! In a while, crocodilessss x

Friday, 1 February 2013

MONEY again :)

Following on from the theme of my last blog, regarding budgeting I decided to write this one about my top money saving tips!! One of the main things you’ll hear students go on about is having no money, yet very few are actually savvy about how they spend it.  I know I wasn't in the beginning either, yet after some family problems, money began to get really tight for us and so I began to look for ways to save money wherever possible, and now I've decided to share them with youuuuu :)

Tip number one:  VOUCHERS

These are really really handy if you like to eat out a lot, as just by going for one meal a week can cost anywhere from £50-£70 a month depending on where you go. Yet a lot of the big chains frequently have special offers on where if you just print out the vouchers and hand them over, you can instantly cut a huge chunk of your bill! These can include, BOGOF, 50% or a cheaper set menu. Most of the biggest chains such as Pizza Express, Zizzis, GBK etc. offer the biggest discounts and have now expanded to using mobile phone apps, so in some cases you don’t even need to print out the vouchers!! This was particularly handy the other day when my friend and I had planned to go to a restaurant (and had a voucher for it) but when we got there, it had a sign in the window saying they had unexpectedly closed early for the day and so we were stuck as neither one of us could really afford to pay full price for a meal…we then luckily went onto the o2 priority app and they had an offer on there for Zizzi, where you could get two courses for £10.95, so I got a calamari starter (£5.95) and steak and mushroom salad (£11.95) for the bargain price of £10.95, saving me a grand total of £6.95 :) woooo.

Obviously you could save more money by just not going out, but if you love socialising/eating at least you can save money this way :)


Tip number two: COUPONS/CODES
So Coupons are usually printed vouchers which either gives you a certain amount off an item or gets you the item for free, and you hand these over at the checkout (usually in supermarkets) and they take it off the money for you. I love to use these but many of my friends feel ashamed/embarrassed to use them, sometimes because they’re worried about what the cashier thinks….Having worked in a supermarket before I can honestly tell you they really don’t care…In an average 3 hour shift I used to serve anywhere from 100-150 people and I would struggle to remember a single one….As long as you’re not stupid with them and try and use 100 of them etc they really don’t mind. You can often find these in supermarket leaflets/newsletters (or in certain supermarkets such as Sainsburys they give them out at the till) and they really do help to take money off your bill…every little helps and all!!

Codes also work like coupons, but they’re used online…you’ll be surprised just how much money you save just by doing a quick Google search. Like for example, I was shopping in Dorothy Perkins and they had these gorgeous boots which I fell in love with, but unfortunately they were out of my size and suggested I buy them online…So I went online added them to my basket, added my student discount which took 15% off, then I did a quick Google search for ‘Dorothy Perkins codes’ and like the third or fourth vouchercode site down had a 20% off + free delivery code which saved me an extra £10!! Not bad for a few minutes searching :D so every time you’re about to buy something online, if you just do a quick search and if you find something it can save you money, and if not all you've wasted is a couple of minutes of your time.

But yes :) these tips won’t make you rich and may sound like common sense but you’ll be surprised just how many people don’t do some of these things.  And these tips will definitely save you some money, especially you were planning on buying certain things anyway :)

That’s all for now unfortunately :( but my next blog will involve talking about another money saving tip… FREEBIES :D as well as various other updates on my life :)

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Money, money MONEYYY!!

Now that the Christmas period has come and gone, and we entered the New Year, it became very clear to me what my next blog should be about: MONEY!
What with it being Christmas and all, money was even tighter for me than usual :( and I know the same also applies to my fellow students! Never underestimate when a student says “WE ARE POOR!” as it is so true!! As a student, you are lulled into a false sense of security with a hefty sum of “free money”, but once you take out things like rent, bills and travel, what you’re left with is often JUST enough to cover the essentials like food and nights out! And being a uni student is totally different than being in sixth-form/college, as you have to pay for more!!! When I was in sixth form, I got free bus travel, free medical prescriptions, free eye checks/glasses, free dentist visits, as well as getting my £30 EMA from the government each week….what do I get out of that list now?! Nothing. NADA. :’(
So my advice? Budget and get a job! As you all know I work for my university in the Enquiry Unit – getting a job for the university has been ideal for me, as the work is term-time and fits around my university schedule. In addition, as it is a university job, the manager is very understanding about exams and coursework deadlines, so it provides some degree of flexibility if I desperately need time off. This is a luxury you may not get working for an external organisation, so if you’re looking to earn a bit of money while you study it is definitely worth taking a look at what your university has to offer (the pay is often better too :P).
It’s also useful working within the university, as you gain a deeper insight into the university as a whole; as just a student it is easy to become detached from some university affairs. Working at the Enquiry Unit has allowed be to become very familiar with the university’s website and intranet, and I feel more involved with the university’s policies and activities as they not only affect my academic life, but my pay too!
Anyway, moving on to budgeting. As a student it is very easy to see that large sum of money sat in your bank account and think “shopping spreeee!” NO! YOU MUST BUDGET!!! It is extremely important to work out how long your money needs to last you (if you are not working, it is usually until the next loan instalment comes through, so roughly 3-4 months), take away any costs for each week (food, travel, toiletries, etc.) and then divide what’s left into weeks. That way you know if you can afford to go out three nights one week AND buy that new dress you had your eye on (as I am partial to a pretty new dress, or three) or if you need to cut back on your spending, and stay in that week instead. By doing this, it will allow you to have enough money in your account to pay all your bills on time, (and avoid those nasty bank charges) as well as providing you with a clear understanding just how much disposable money you have, so you don’t get to the end of the term and have literally no money to pay your rent etc..
Moving on from that, here’s a little update on my personal life… I sold my car :( Bertie is no more! I slowly began to realise that I had to sell him as I never drove him. This coupled with the fact that its tax and MOT runs out soon, (which would have meant MORE money) made me realise it would be kinder to us both if I found him a loving new home :( Fortunately, he hasn’t gone too far; Denise’s (see her blog here: dad bought him :D so this way at least I know he will be cared for, and can visit him on occasion! LOL! Who knew you could get so attached to a car?! Ahh well, now my pocket’s a little heavier, and whilst I’d love to blow the lot on clothes and fine food, the moral of this blog is budgeting :( So that is what I shall do :(!
Until next time, folks!