Sunday, 20 May 2018

Best wishes to Dr Kirsty Carrick

Hello everyone,

Last week, a long-term staff member retired. Kirsty Carrick has been with us for over 20 years and is a highly respected and much valued member of our team. This got me thinking about how one of the very many strengths of our school is about commitment and longevity in the job. Whether we like it or not, we are an important part of each other’s lives. Many of you remember when our colleague’s got married, when their children were born, and when they were going through ups and downs in their lives. This is the difference between a community and a place of work, it is about loyalty and connection, and it reflects how welcomed I felt from everyone here at the UoN from my very first day. The people we work with are not just our colleagues, but they are people that we share our lives with.

Speaking about longevity, I met with Daphne Keats yesterday. A strong woman who has been a cornerstone of our school. At 92 she just returned from another trip to China where she celebrated the anniversary of the China-Australia Centre for Cross-cultural research, that she started many years ago. I think this centre is a powerful legacy and I have been thinking about how we could maintain it, working with Stefi and the Keats fund. It would be great to continue the momentum that she and John started so many years ago. We could perhaps start with taking some of our students over to run some small cross-cultural projects as part of their undergraduate program? Offer some teaching exchanges?

Last night I also went to the inaugural lecture celebrating the 40th anniversary of medicine at the UoN. Sitting there waiting for the lecture to start, I was watching the rolling video of historical pictures of the medical school form the 70’s through the 80’s and so on to today. In the audience were past deans, VC’s, students and academics. Professor Brian Kelly - the current Head of Medicine and Public Health, describes how he was one of those early medical students. Once again I was struck by this notion of working within an institution that allows us to grow as academics, and encourages commitment and loyalty. Once again, I feel very lucky to be here J    

Good luck Kirsty, you will be missed.


Sunday, 6 May 2018

UoN School of Psychology's Community Engagement

Hello everyone,

Over the last week or so I have been thinking about outreach – why should we do it, and why is it important?

There are the usual fiscal arguments about outreach. About bums-on-seats and income. But for me, the financial flow-on is just a happy coincidence of the real reason we do this.

For example, I have been talking to people like Mary Watson from Wiyillian ta, Dominic Dates from Wollotuka, and my old colleagues from the Tjabal centre, and I am constantly struck by how important it is for us to engage in our indigenous community. We currently have 21 students who identify as indigenous in the BPsyc(Hons), and 13 in the BPsycSc, that’s a tiny portion of our student cohort. It is estimated that we need 800 indigenous therapists across Australia to cope with current demand, yet we have less than 100. Connecting with indigenous colleagues, institutions, students and communities is vital in order to get that little snowball of information and awareness rolling so that indigenous students all over Australia will consider Psychology as a profession, go on to study psychology and then go on to work in community. Our staff and students; Stefi, Jesse, Olivia and April – for example - are doing a fantastic job in establishing and nurturing these connections, and we support them all the way.

Outreach is also about our obligation as scientists and educated people, and I was reminded of this a few days ago by Bryan. We have all studied for many years. We are all experts in our fields, we are all superb scholars. Our education and expertise affords us a social responsibility that goes beyond our teaching and research commitments. Pseudopsychology is alive and well in the community and being adopted by schools, hospitals, community groups, the media and individuals. As learned people, we roll our eyes and scoff. But without us out there connecting with people and sharing our knowledge, we leave a knowledge gap that gets filled with pseudopsychology, and in the end – we have only ourselves to blame. Examples of what we can and should be doing – Frini was out talking to victims of stroke and their families this week about some of the science behind stroke. Also this week, Emina went out to a local primary school to talk about social influence because the kids are submitting a Premier’s prize application for a project to reduce plastic waste. Bill has been out to talk to indigenous kids at the Ourimbah Insight day, Michelle goes out in her own time and talks to community groups about dementia. And I am sure that there is a lot more that we all do that we just consider to be ‘part of our job’.

So why is engagement so important? Yes, it is about forming relationships that will provide research opportunities, placements, attract students, and contribute to communities that need psychologists. However, it is also a mechanism that allows us to share our knowledge, to give back to our communities. Collectively, we have a great deal of specialised knowledge, and with that knowledge comes responsibility. I would argue that it is our responsibility and obligation to give back to our community, and personally, I feel very privileged to be in a position to do so.

Have a great week everyone

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

SOPRG seminar: Join us for a research presentation on Communicating and Learning with Digital Media on Tuesday 8th May, 12-1pm

The Social and Organisational Psychology Research Group (SOPRG) is proud to host a talk by Dr Stephanie Pieschl, UON’s School of Education.

WHEN: Tuesday 8th May, 12-1pm.

WHERE: Keats reading room, Aviation building AVLG17, Callaghan Campus. VC link to Ourimbah campus Science offices' seminar room.

TITLE: Communicating and Learning with Digital Media

ABSTRACT: In this talk, I will give a short overview of my research about how humans deal with the challenges of digitalization and the state of their digital literacy. One strand of my research focuses on self-regulated learning with computer-based learning environments. Among others, I explored learners’ metacognitive adaptation to task demands and their help-seeking as well as the impact of their epistemic beliefs and prior knowledge on their learning processes and outcomes. In another strand of research, I focus on using and communicating with Social Media. For example, I investigated the prevalence, definitional characteristics, risk and protective factors, and consequences of cyberbullying. Based on that research, I created and evaluated the first German cyberbullying prevention program. Additionally, I have been interested in privacy regulation on Social Media and subjective theories about and impact of violent and prosocial media consumption. My research ranges from fundamental experimental research on memory, cognition, and metacognition, to more applied studies in formal and informal learning and communication contexts.

BIO: In 2017 I relocated to Newcastle and I have been a Senior Lecturer of Educational Psychology at the School of Education ever since. I am a trained psychologist (my Diploma, 2002, Doctor of Philosophy, 2008, and Habilitation, 2015, are all in Psychology) and specialize in educational psychology. I started my academic career at the University of Muenster, Germany, but also served as an interim Professor at the University of Wuerzburg, Germany, and as a visiting researcher at the Simon Fraser University, Canada. I have published in some of the top journals in my field and have been involved in multi-million euro interdisciplinary research projects. For more information, please have a look at my profile page: