My name is Lauren Dillon, and I have just completed the 2nd year of my BSc Psychology degree. My exams went really well, and I am about to complete an 8-week research assistantship awarded to me by the British Psychological Society. During the first year of study, I knew that I wanted to work with children, so I arranged a meeting with Dr Victoria Lovett, the developmental psychologist who teaches on my course. Together we discussed our interests and decided that I should apply for a research assistantship which would not only help me with my 3rd year project, but would enhance my chances of gaining a masters or PhD. We designed the project, and filled out the application form – a challenge in itself.
The project is designed to investigate how infants at 6 months of age learn to imitate target actions, something that Dr Lovett did for her own PhD. However for this project, we added eye tracking to investigate where infants gaze, what grabs their attention, and whether this is related to how/what they imitate. I am on week 8 now, and we have tested 20 infants. It has been a challenge, but really exciting. I am now more aware than ever how much work goes into infant research. It is not only about making sure the baby is happy, but also the parent. If the parent is nervous, agitated, or unhappy, then the baby picks up on this. Therefore we created a welcome room, a colourful safe space where babies can play and parents can have a cuppa and a chat. We also made certificates to give to the parent for their baby scientist! We also applied for participant payment from the department, £10 per infant to pay for travel expenses. We were quite fortunate to receive this, and it certainly helps.
Now that I am half way through testing, I am well aware of how much work is ahead of me. I need to continue writing my report; the literature review is next on my list. I also need to prepare for the end of October, when I need to update the BPS on what I have found so far. This will be in preparation for the BPS conference 2016, where I will present my research as a poster. I strongly recommend that anybody wanting to gain research experience begins to think about this from the start 1) what are you interested in 2) if you have no idea – read 3) approach the appropriate lecturer and tell them that you are interested in their research and that you would like some experience 4) apply for any internships, work experience, WoW and SPIN opportunities whenever they are available. I hope that this will help you realise you need to seek out available opportunities; you need to work for what you want.
To see Lauren’s weekly blog during the Assistanship please click here
To find out about the Playlab Swansea please follow the link.
Lauren’s BPS 2016 Conference Poster Presentation can be downloaded here Lauren’s BPS Poster.