WISERD hosts Cardiff University summer placement students

WISERD has been delighted to host five undergraduate students this summer, four of whom were part of the Cardiff Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme (CUROP).

The CUROP programme is now considered to be one of the largest undergraduate research schemes in the UK and it aims to offer students paid experience of working in a research environment.

The students have been involved in dementia research, a study into how different values are passed between family members and a data mapping project. We asked some of the students what they’ve enjoyed, what’s been challenging, and what their next steps are…

Rebecca Louch

“I am studying BSc Psychology with Professional Placement. I applied for a placement at WISERD as I was very drawn to the Improving the Experience of Dementia and Enhancing Active Life (IDEAL) study being conducted by Dr Alex Hillman – I’ve studied dementia as part of my course, and I work as a care worker facilitating community integration, so a project where the two could be drawn together was something that highly appealed to me.

“My main role at WISERD has been undertaking two literature reviews. It was initially challenging working with qualitative data, as in my course I mostly work with quantitative data. However, I think this has helped me strengthen an area that I was weak in. I’m glad I got the chance to do such an extensive literature review, as I feel that I’ve now refined my method for doing so, which will be of immense help to me in writing my final year dissertation. Most of all, I enjoyed getting to grips with the project and seeing my work progress into one consolidated piece of research that can be useful to the team.

“I will now be doing a placement year, after which I will return to university for my final year. This will involve a research dissertation which is heavily weighted, and I feel that having spent a month doing literature reviews and methodological reviews will really help me with this.”

Louise Taylor

“I’m in the second year of my sociology degree. I’ve always enjoyed talking to my parents and grandparents about their thoughts and feelings on certain topics, as it’s interesting to find out where they get these views from. So working with Dr Esther Muddiman on a project about intergenerational values was the perfect opportunity for me to find out more about how certain views are passed on.

“My role has included cataloguing images and coding them for key themes. I was also involved in looking at data using SPSS statistics software, and analysing and coding open-ended questions. I then had the opportunity to pilot methods that will later be used to collect data from parents and children. This involved asking for their opinions on a number of topics and mapping this information using ‘family trees’ to make connections between family members and see if their opinions came from within the family or whether they were influenced by outside factors.

“I was lucky enough to go to the WISERD Young people and Brexit: one year on conference in London, which was part of the Young People and Brexit project. Throughout the day there were a number of academic speakers as well as a film screening, and a question and answer panel with a politician, academic speaker and young person. They discussed the effect of Brexit on young people and how to increase political engagement among young people. This was definitely one of the highlights of my time here.

“I definitely think this experience will benefit me when I come to do my dissertation next year. It’s introduced me to a topic I would never have thought about researching and it’s something I would love to pursue in the future. It’s also shown me the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes when it comes to producing a paper.”

Aled Goodwin

“I am studying social analytics at Cardiff University’s School of Social Sciences. A placement with WISERD appealed to me as an opportunity to practically apply some of the skills I have learnt so far, while also developing new ones and experiencing a different area of the University.

“While here, I have assisted Dr Scott Orford with analysis of interviews, by coding data about participants’ localities for later exploration. I will go on to use the data in a mapping programme to see what we can learn. The research has been fascinating and learning to use the new GIS software has been very interesting. I have enjoyed being in the office environment too and having a proper routine compared to more unstructured time as a student.

“My next steps are to complete my final year, involving a dissertation. This placement has helped me to think through possible dissertation topics. I have been able to discuss them with Dr Orford and consider how I may be able to use the skills I have developed here with my own project.”

Josie Phillips

“I am now graduating from my third year of a sociology degree at Cardiff University with first class honours. WISERD appealed to me because it sounded like a fantastic opportunity to better my job prospects.

“Working with Dr Esther Muddiman on a project about how values are passed between different generations within families, I have gained real research experience with cataloguing, coding, qualitative analysis through thematic analysis, and fantastic experience of using SPSS software to produce quantitative analysis of a large dataset. I have been given the opportunity to test out and trial creative methods and really experience working ‘in the field’.

“The whole experience has been enjoyable. I have had the privilege of helping with key WISERD events such as the Young people and Brexit: one year on conference held in London, where I had the opportunity to network with really talented academics. While having so much freedom proved helpful and exciting, it was also challenging, and has opened my eyes to the messy and unglamorous side of research that can be time consuming and very demanding. I usually work in a very labour intensive job but that is hands down less demanding than having to really focus and use intellect for hours everyday!

“Now that I will be graduating I am on the hunt for graduate jobs within a social research or a higher education setting. I feel this experience has seriously benefitted me for the future and will genuinely help my job prospects. I would urge any second year student to work with WISERD if given the opportunity. I only wish I had done it sooner as I know it would help tremendously with doing a dissertation.”

Pictured above (left to right): Rebecca Louch, Louise Taylor, Josie Phillips and Aled Goodwin.