On Saturday, Bournemouth University hosted the Wessex Branch of the British Psychological Society (BPS) Annual Student Conference. This event provided an opportunity for students to showcase novel research and, in addition to BU, attracted Psychology students from a range of institutions (e.g. Universities of Surrey, Sussex, Winchester, and Southampton). The breadth of institution was matched by the breadth of student; with undergraduate research assistants through to doctoral students presenting their work to an audience of approximately 100 delegates.
In total, there were 28 oral presentations and 19 research posters. In addition, we were fortunate to have two thought-provoking keynote speakers. First, Dr. Richard Stephens (Keele University) spoke about the role of swearing on pain tolerance (in short, it helps, particularly if you are normally an infrequent user of coarse vocabulary) and, second, Prof. Clare Wood (Coventry University) delivered a presentation on the effects of text messaging on literacy (in sum, ‘textisms’ are not rotting the brains of our nation’s youth).
The conference sought to emphasise that, rather than a perfunctory assessment exercise, student research is an important part of knowledge creation within our universities. Whilst this was highlighted by the collaborative (student-academic) nature of the projects, it was also evident how the presenters had developed into independent researchers. This apprenticeship model is one employed by the Bournemouth Psychology Research Centre and it was pleasing to see a number of our Year 2 Psychology students presenting data that had arisen from their research assistant placements. There was a large contingent of first and second year BU Psychology students in the audience and helping with conference organisation as volunteers. We hope that they have been inspired to participate in more staff projects and will return next year to present their research.