SoSS Psychology students “Research the Headlines”

Alan Gow from our Psychology department, has written for us on “Research the Headlines”, a fascinating blog project enabling students to develop their critical thinking skills and ability to disseminate their growing knowledge. Well done to the students involved in showcasing their work!

In our teaching, we want to ensure that our students not only get a firm grasp of their topic, but that they develop a range of skills that might be relevant after they graduate. For students in the 4th Year course Psychology of Ageing, one of the pieces of coursework helped them to develop their abilities in communicating their specialised knowledge. Their task was to describe an original research report exploring how lifestyle affects brain health in a manner accessible to non-experts, as well as evaluating the media coverage of the research. At the end of June, Research the Headlines showcased some of that work.

Research the Headlines is a blog from members of the RSE Young Academy of Scotland (YAS) which discusses research and the media to help the public understanding of research and the process that takes this from “lab to headline”. I’m a contributor to the blog, and have previously helped run the “Rewrite the Headlines” workshops and competition for primary school children. The ideas behind these activities are to help others develop the skills needed to become more critical consumers of both research and media reporting.

Many of the Research the Headlines contributors use the ideas in their teaching. In the Psychology of Ageing coursework, a key aim of the “brain blogs” was to explain the important concepts and take-home messages, and to highlight issues in interpretation either in the media report or the underlying research.

Over the course of a week, Research the Headlines showcased the work of four students from Edinburgh and Dubai; all recent graduates in Psychology at Heriot-Watt.

The “brain blog” showcase included:

Maybe not too relaxing a retirement? Testing the use it or lose it hypothesis by Amy Ogle

Does Aerobic Exercise Improve Alzheimer’s Symptoms In Older Age? by Kae Cynn Wong

Say “I do” to a healthier mind by Aaron Irving

Do we really lose it if we don’t use it? by Chloe Meek

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