Posted Monday 8 May 2017
Teacher resilience and unsuccessful job applicants' interview experiences were the focus of original research by two Kingston University students who scooped prizes at the recent Indigogold Work Psychology Innovation Awards.
Occupational and business psychology MSc graduates Nicola Murray and Ruth Abrams represented the University at the central London event sponsored by management consultancy firm Indigogold. The annual awards bring together the cream of the crop of postgraduate students focusing on work-related psychology from universities across the United Kingdom.
Shortlisted candidates gave poster presentations on their dissertations and judges reviewed the academic quality and practical potential of their research for the workplace. Nicola snapped up the coveted first prize of a £1,000 bursary and Ruth won third place in the prestigious contest. The panel of judges was made up of workplace psychology academics and human resource practitioners with a shared interest in fostering new research on how people are managed in a work environment.
Nicola Murray said the judges had commented on the relevance and adaptability of her research on teacher resilience. "Resilience is a hot topic in many organisations and with frequent reports in the press about the increasing demands on teachers, I particularly wanted to investigate how health and work productivity are managed both in schools and by the government," she explained.
"My study highlights the potential of applying a commonly used assessment and recruitment method – the Situational Judgement Test. This is based upon daily work-related situations and is a novel resilience-building intervention to reduce employee stress as well as improve retention and wellbeing in a workplace which is often characterised by complexity."
Associate professor in occupational and business psychology at Kingston University, Dr Joanna Yarker – who supervised Nicola's dissertation and, alongside colleagues from other participating universities, was also a judge for the awards – observed that the breadth of research topics and methodology at work in the entrants' presentations had been exceptional.
"Nicola's research won because it was well-designed and demonstrated excellent data analysis skills," Dr Yarker added. "What really impressed the panel was how her work with teachers could be applied to individuals at an organisational level in many different sectors. Her findings suggest that re-purposing the Situational Judgement Test method has the potential to inform early-career training and provide a mechanism for continuing professional development."
– who co-directs the masters course at the University with Dr Yarker – explained that the unique design of the course prepared students to be work-ready when they completed their studies. "Scholarly exploration is combined with evidence-based practice to ensure that our students produce research that is not only innovative but also relevant and practical with the potential to make a positive impact on individuals, organisations and society," she said.Dr Rachel Lewis
Ruth Abrams' research on how job applicants make sense of negative job interview outcomes was awarded third place. While studying for her MSc in Occupational and Business Psychology at Kingston University, Ruth became intrigued by the gap between the advice in the literature for human resources professionals and the reality of job rejection, deciding to focus her study on this familiar plight of job applicants.
The judging process was extremely helpful for the contestants, Ruth explained. "The event was all about knowledge exchange, and I particularly enjoyed the exchange of dialogue," she added. "Being able to share research insights with industry professionals gave me the opportunity to test-drive the findings from my research and find out what really matters in practice."
While many of the University's graduates in this field go on to work in human resources, learning and development and consultancy roles, both Nicola and Ruth have caught the research bug and plan to further their studies by progressing on to PhD research next year.