Posted Wednesday 9 August 2023
Psychology PhD student Norlina Sexton has won Kingston University's Three Minute Thesis competition with her project to help autistic students transition into university life.
The annual competition sees students put together three-minute filmed verbal presentations on their area of expertise which are then judged by academic experts. The winner of Kingston's Three Minute Thesis gets an opportunity to pit their wits against other victorious research students from across the nation.
Norlina, who grew up in Malaysia and then Australia, originally graduated from Monash University, Melbourne in 1986 and had a career in IT and specialist teaching, before returning to education by taking a Masters in Psychology at Kingston University and then staying on for her PhD thesis.
Participating in the competition was both challenging and rewarding for Norlina. "Telling this complex story in three minutes was very challenging but the training the University provided for the competition was so helpful," she said. "Entering this competition has really offered me the chance to upskill and really grow in confidence when presenting my own research."
Norlina decided to research more about autistic students at university after a family member with autism dropped out of higher education. In particular, she focused on the transition from school life to studying at university. "My PhD is really about helping autistic students connect better with university life," she said. "I really enjoyed presenting it in such a concise manner and I was so surprised and proud of myself when I won the competition."
The recording process was also challenging for Norlina because she is deaf. "The staff at Kingston couldn't have been more helpful when filming the video," she said. "Despite the extra challenge, I liked the fact, I got to push my boundaries in this co
Professor of Public Health Andrea Petroczi, academic lead for Three Minute Thesis praised Norlina's efforts in the competition. "Conveying the impact of an entire PhD in an engaging way is a big ask alone before you add the other challenges Norlina has to had overcome," she said. "The fact she was so successful overcoming her hearing impairment and English not being her first language should be an inspiration to all PhD students. The University has had some great achievements in this competition, and I hope more PhD students enter in the years to come."
Going forward, Norlina is continuing into the third year of her PHD studies and is still considering whether to become an academic or a full-time researcher upon finishing her thesis.