Guest Post: Transcripts, Tracing and (Eye) Tracking: Work Experience in Psychology

P1030691Anna is a student in Year 10 at a local secondary school. This week, she spent time on her work experience placement, in the Department of Psychology, with me. Here, she reflects on her experiences. 

This week I have been doing my work experience with Sian at Oxford Brookes University. Over the time I’ve been here I have done various things including data entry, transcription and writing a report (or attempting to). I have found out more about the goings on in the department and met several people who have shown me parts of the department. These included the eye tracker, baby lab and visual perception lab. Throughout the course of the week I have learnt how to use two programs for data; one each for quantitative and qualitative data.

Monday, my first day. Going into an unknown place can be very scary sometimes, especially when you get there to find yourself surrounded by lots of foreign students who speak little of your language (There is a summer school on at the moment at Brookes for language students from various countries). This bewildered me somewhat, but once I had found my destination all was well. My main tasks that day were data entry and learning how to use SPSS, a statistics program. The data was from the feedback forms from Sian’s friendship workshops. I found this an enjoyable task, contrary, I imagine, to what people may think.

Using the eye-tracker

Using the eye-tracker

On Tuesday, the bus was 20 minutes late. Thankfully, I had allowed plenty of time between bus arrival and my starting time, so wasn’t late. I think that 20 minutes was quite an impressive achievement on the Bus Company’s behalf! At work I finished the entry of the quantitative data, and also saw and used the eye tracker. This is a clever little device which is useful for lots of things. I met a past student after that, who showed me some of the university and talked to me about being a student. She showed me the baby lab, which was fascinating. The baby lab has a baby eye tracker amongst other things, which I thought was rather sweet.

Wednesday- I looked at the qualitative data from the feedback forms today and also started to write a report about the workshops and evaluation. I have concluded that writing reports isn’t my greatest strength… In the afternoon I was shown the visual perception lab. I saw lots of visual illusions and now know how and why they work. There I did an activity to help one of the research fellows.



On Thursday, I learnt how to use another computer program, and how to carry out a thematic analysis on a transcript. I then started to write a transcript of an interview. At lunch today, Sian took me to another campus of the University for a slight change of scenery.

Today, Friday, I finished transcribing the interview. After that, I had a go at doing a mirror tracing task. I had to try and draw objects such as a five point star only looking at my hand in the mirror, and not at my actual hand. This is harder than it sounds. In fact, drawing a star with my left hand became easier than drawing with my right hand (the one I normally use). I also tried writing so that the text looked the right way up in the mirror, another challenge.

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Mirror Tracing

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The Results of Mirror tracing; not the neatest ever!

After lunch, I continued to write the report on the friendship workshops.

I think my favourite part of the experience was learning more about the sorts of things which the research fellows do, and also meeting lots of new people. Everyone here is really friendly and welcoming. Overall, I have really enjoyed my experience. I would recommend this as a great work experience placement to anyone interested.

And, on reflection, I would recommend welcoming an ‘Anna’ to anyone working in academic Psychology. It was fun to show her some of the psychological phenomena that fascinate us in the Department, and for her to see them for the first time. Moreover, Anna was diligent, quick, and intelligent about her work (as well as being a downright lovely person to have around), and did some really useful things for me (and others in the Department), making us all the more efficient this week. And, as you can see, her report-writing skills really aren’t that bad, either. Who would like to apply next year……..? 


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