"I have joined the fight, and it's a fight I hope to help win" : UG psychology work placements enable and galvanise students to 'make a difference'

Bonnar, Elizabeth and Mooney, Patricia (2018) "I have joined the fight, and it's a fight I hope to help win" : UG psychology work placements enable and galvanise students to 'make a difference'. In: 4th Community Psychology Festival, 2018-09-23 - 2018-09-24.

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    Abstract

    A report on the future of UG psychology education in the UK (HEA Psychology Network, 2011) recommended that "Departments facilitate placements, community work, and international study" in order to enhance students' employability and their ability to apply psychological knowledge and skills in the real world. In 2017-18, 39 final year Psychology students at University of Strathclyde took an optional credit-bearing work placement module. Students successfully applied (independently) for placements that involved supporting and empowering others (e.g. local women's aid, one-to-one work with people with dementia in NHS wards, working in residential units for young people with autism, and supporting people with mental health issues who are homeless). Participating students commented on the experience as "transformative" and that they felt proud for doing work that "made a difference" to the lives of others. In a published essay, one student wrote, "I started studying psychology to help others but I was never sure how – without the opportunities provided to me by this module I would still be uncertain as graduation looms" (Anonymous, BPS Scotland Undergraduate Psychology Research Conference Magazine, 2018; p.13). Reports from placement organisations noted that they benefited from the students' psychological knowledge and skills, and academic staff have been inspired. Given the size of the UK UG psychology population (~77,000 in 2016-17), we (participating student and staff) argue that providing this population with the opportunity to participate in work placements is beneficial to students, organisations and their clients, universities, and ultimately to wider society in the pursuit of social progress.