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Welcome to Psychology

From childhood to old age.

Psychology at Heriot-Watt focuses on providing
excellent learning experience combined with strong
and active research culture

 

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SCHOOL OF SOCIAL SCIENCES - DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHOLOGY

VOLUNTARY RESEARCH ASSISTANT SCHEME

The Voluntary Research Assistant Scheme (VRAs) is an experience offered to UG students (year 2 to 4) enrolled in a Psychology programme at Heriot Watt University.

Aims

  1. Increase your employability profile by including the scheme in your CV
  2. Develop further your transferable skills in terms of data handling and reports preparation
  3. Get greater knowledge of a research environment, including team work, and of the research environment in general
  4. Get hands-on research experience on a specific topic of Psychology of your interest


How?

By taking part in a research project led by a staff member.

Minimum duration: 2 months; Maximum duration: 12 months
Minimum hours/week: 2 hours; Maximum hours/week: 8 hours

The number of hours undertaken will depend on the time of year and your commitments in relation to your studies and should be discussed and agreed with your supervisor.

Is there a selection process?
The VRA experience is agreed with the supervisor. If the supervisor accepts the application and there are places available, then no further selection is needed. If there are more applications than places available, then there is a selection process.

The selection is based on:

  • CV (qualifications acquired up until the application and extracurricular relevant activities)
  • Personal statement highlighting the reason for pursuing this opportunity ( e.g. experience useful for pursuing Masters programme or PhD position; experience useful for developing particular skills; experience useful for deciding between clinical and research career)
  • Match between abilities-project (e.g. if project requires use of SPSS independently, unlikely to benefit year 2 student).

If you are interested in becoming a VRA for any of the projects below, please email the relevant staff contact copying in VRA Coordinator: Dr Mel McKendrick M.McKendrick@hw.ac.uk

 

Project 1 Title
  Objective, automatic measures of depression – can data from a mobile phone be related to depression?
Description                  Participants will be asked to complete some baseline measures assessing cognition, personality and mood. All participants will need to download an app for their phone.
VRA Role
  • Check the tests on Qualtrics
  • Help recruit participants (approx. 80 students)
  • Answer any queries regarding downloading the app or the tests on Qualtrics
Start Date                         The beginning of the semester will be the busiest as this is when the recruitment and setting of the study takes place.
Duration  The post is for approximately 4 weeks.
Benefits to VRA The VRA will gain experience in measures of depression, emotion, personality and cognition.
Staff Contact             Dr Mary E. Stewart
Email M.E.Stewart@hw.ac.uk

Project 2 Title
  Attendance tracking
Description Collecting attendance tracking data to promote the student experience shortly.
VRA Role Data analysis: Collection and analysis of ad-hoc staff attendance records. These will be compared with newly collected data.    
Start Date Beginning of semester
Duration 6 months (initially)
Benefits to VRA Development of practical data collection and analysis skills.
Staff Contact Dr Terry Lansdown
Email T.Lansdown@hw.ac.uk

Project Title
3 Driver Distraction
Description An existing dataset concerning self-report driver distraction behaviours requires analysis.                                                                    
VRA Role Investigation and data analysis.
Start Date Beginning of the semester
Duration 6 months
Benefits to VRA Development of practical data collection and analysis skills.
Staff Contact Dr Terry Lansdown
Email T.Lansdown@hw.ac.uk

Project Title
4 Real world Observation of Driver Distraction
Description   A paper by Sullman provided a datum of real world observational data on driver distraction. This project will collect and analyse data on current behaviours in and around the Edinburgh region.
VRA Role Data collection and analysis
Start Date Beginning of the semester
Duration 6 months
Benefits to VRA                Practical experience of data collection and analysis
Staff Contact Dr Terry Lansdown
Email T.Lansdown@hw.ac.uk

Project Title
7

Language assessment for adults

Description Language assessments in adults are often biased by the language abilities and preference of a speaker. In this project we are aiming at reflecting on a good format to measure grammatical abilities in adults with both typical abilities and atypical abilities.
VRA role You will be involved in creating materials, piloting the assessment format and analysing data. 
Start Date To be agreed
Duration To be agreed depending on availability. We request that you be available 8 hours per week, or during the summer break.
Benefits to VRA     

It is a unique opportunity to learn more about psychometric and language in adults. 

Staff Contact Dr Maria Garaffa
Email m.garraffa@hw.ac.uk

 

Project Title
8 Media communication experience at LangLife Lab
Description

At the LangLife Lab, we offer volunteer experience for students interested in media and communications and to use their knowledge on the Psychology of language as a strategic concept.

The LangLife Lab is interested in promoting language acquisition in special circumstances and we would like this message to receive media coverage not only in the UK but internationally as well. 
VRA role

We are looking for a student who would like to gain more experience in running advertising campaigns, maintaining public relations and writing press releases. 

Start Date To be agreed. 
Duration We request that you be available 8 hours per week, but we are also interested in arranging placements during the summer break. Please note that some days will be spent working out of office.
Benefits to VRA    Experience in the application of Psychology of Langauge in media and communications. 
Staff Contact Dr Maria Garaffa
Email m.garraffa@hw.ac.uk

Project

Title

9 Adaptation of the Comprehensive Aphasia Test in Malay and Italian
Description The LangLife Lab is interested in adapting the Comprehensive Aphasia Test  (CAT; Porter, Howard and Swinborn, 2004) in Malay and Italian, as part of a bigger research project. 
VRA role Are you a student in Psychology native speaker of Malay or Italian? Are you interested in Neuropsychology and Language disorders? The role will involve testing langauge abailities in adults.
Start Date To be agreed. 
Duration We request that you be available 8 hours per week, but we are also interested in arranging placements during the summer break. Please note that some days will be spent working out of office.
Benefits to VRA You can gain experience in testing language abilities in adults and in learning psychometric properties related to language.
Staff Contact Dr Maria Garaffa
Email m.garraffa@hw.ac.uk

 

Project
Title
11 Examining the neural basis of wakeful memory consolidation
Description This project is investigating how different lifestyle factors influence memory, including sleep, fatigue, and thinking activities (e.g. spontaneous mind wandering).
VRA role You will play an important role in conducting research as part of this project. Duties will involve the recruitment of young adults as participants, testing these participants using different memory tests and questionnaires, and reporting/discussing progress and findings at regular meetings.
Start Date To be agreed
Duration The end date of the project is 01/06/2019. You will work 2-8 hours per week on until the project end date. The number of hours worked per week will depend on factors such as success with recruitment.
Benefits to VRA You will develop skills in (1) conducting high-quality psychological research using behavioural memory tests and questionnaires, (2) processing, analysing and interpreting data, and (3) computer software (e.g. PsychoPy) that are commonly used in psychological research to test human behaviour. 
Staff Contact Dr Michael Craig
Email m.craig@hw.ac.uk

 

Project  Title
12  Lifestyle and memory
Description  This project is investigating how different lifestyle factors influence memory, including sleep, fatigue, and thinking activities (e.g. spontaneous mind wandering).
VRA role  You will play an important role in conducting research as part of this project. Duties will involve the recruitment of young adults as participants, testing these participants using different memory tests and questionnaires, and reporting/discussing progress and findings at regular meetings.
Start Date  To be agreed
Duration  The end date of the project is 01/06/2019. You will work 2-8 hours per week on until the project end date. The number of hours worked per week will depend on factors such as success with recruitment.
Benefits to VRA  You will develop skills in (1) conducting high-quality psychological research using behavioural memory tests and questionnaires, (2) processing, analysing and interpreting data, and (3) computer software (e.g. PsychoPy) that are commonly used in psychological research to test human behaviour. 
Staff Contact Dr Michale Craig
Email

m.craig@hw.ac.uk