“The baby, assailed by eyes, ears, nose, skin, and entrails at once, feels it all as one great blooming buzzing confusion”- William James
At the Early Learning Project we have UNSW undergraduates come and help out with our research projects as part of an internship scheme. One of our interns, Georgia, has just finished the third year of her bachelor of psychology at UNSW. Throughout the third year of her degree she has been helping out with our intergenerational study so I caught up with her to find out more about the research she’s been doing.
Tell me about the research project you’ve been doing this year
My research was an intergenerational study with local preschoolers and dementia patients at a nursing home. Once a week the children from the preschool go and have a play session with the residents over the course of 6 months. We wanted to find out if going to visit the residents would have an effect on the children’s social and emotional development.
How did you do this?
We ran several tasks with the kids that measure their emotional and social development before they started going to see the residents. After the 6 month period we had them perform the same tasks again to see if they improved. Naturally as the children grow older they do better on the tasks that we set them, so a second group of children from the centre who didn’t taken part in the intergenerational program do the same tasks and act as the control group . In this way we can see how much of the improvement in children’s socio-emotional skillsis due to just getting older and how much is due to spending time with the residents. We are currently still doing the last few tasks with the children so we don’t have any results yet
Why did you decide to take part in this project?
I wanted to do a developmental psychology project because I’ve always loved working with kids. I took a developmental psychology course last year and loved it, so I decided to pursue it on Jenny’s internship program. When I joined the program Jenny proposed the study for me to help out with. There have been some other research that has shown programs like this improve the dementia patient’s engagement and mood compared to a normal activities like reading and reminiscing, but there has not been much research into how these programs might benefit the children’s development, which is why I found it so interesting.
What were the best and most difficult things about this project?
The most difficult part was the time commitment. It takes about half an hour to finish all the tasks with each child, so I had to go to the preschool a lot, as well as balancing all of this with uni and work. The best thing was learning how to carry out a range of tasks to measure the children’s social and emotional abilities, and also being able to conduct observational research on the residents.
What are you planning on doing next?
Once we’ve finished testing the kids I’m going to analyse the results and write up the research for publication. I’m hoping to get into the honours program next year to carry on with developmental research, and after I finish my thesis I’d like to go on to do a clinical masters.
What are your plans for this summer?
I work at IKEA so I will continue to work there while I’m writing up my research. I’m also planning on going away down south to Bateman’s Bay. I haven’t had a lot of free time this year so I’m going to catch up with my friends and walk my dog.
I am the Director of the Early Learning Project at UNSW. My research interests focus on learning, memory and emotion understanding development in infancy and early childhood
I am currently studying for my undergraduate Psychology degree at Cardiff University in the UK. I am working as a Research Assistant in the Early Learning Project as part of our placement program this year.
I have just finished my thesis for my honuors degree. My research focused on future thinking ability in preschoolers.