Current Projects

Tapping for PEAS

Boath, L. and Campbell, A. Tapping for PEAS: a randomised controlled trial of Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) versus no treratment in reducing presentation expression anxiety syndrome (PEAS) in students.

Many students report high anxiety levels around oral presentations whether assessed or not. There are a range of interventions for presentation anxiety in students including internet self-help (Tillfors et al., 2008), virtual reality therapy (Harris et al 2002), self-modelling interventions (Rickards-Schlichting, 2004), biofeedback and speech skills training (McKinney et al 1982). However, there is very limited evidence to suggest that these are effective interventions. This project aims to assess the impact on Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), which is also known as tapping therapy, on students’ presentation anxiety.

EFT is a very gentle and safe intervention that is easily taught and self-delivered. Subjects gently tap with their fingertips on acupressure points (mainly on head/hands) and relate this to the voicing of specific statements.   Emerging research has shown that EFT has been used to reduce test anxiety in university students and these students not only increased their grades, but also successfully transferred their EFT skills to other stressful areas of their lives (Benor et al, 2006; Sezgin & Özcan, 2009). Schoninger (2004) used EFT to treat public speaking anxiety and a study is planned using a virtual reality programme to assess the effects of EFT on the fear of public speaking (Feinstein, 2011). Research has also shown that EFT is effective with large groups of people (Rowe, 2005) and so has the potential to offer a very efficient and cost effective intervention to student groups.

The research aims to facilitate clinical complementary therapy students’ research experience and to develop research capacity and outputs in their clinical area. This is particularly important as research into complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) obtains less than 0.003% of research funding nationally and so opportunities for CAM students to obtain research experience is very severely restricted (Lewith, 2011).

The research may also enhance the University's profile in promoting student support and wellbeing, enhancing performance and student retention as outlined in the forthcoming University Student Mental Wellbeing Policy.

Researching and Developing Innovative Marketing for Staffordshire

Fairburn, J and Fair, J.E. Researching and Developing Innovative Marketing for Staffordshire.

Working with a local entrepreneur we aim to introduce the students to an activity that will contribute the research process as well as to the Universities 3 Es.
“we want all students to access the benefits exposure to teaching informed by research can bring. … This will take many forms including pure and applied research that feeds curriculum development; but also research and development that tackle the challenging questions facing professional business, regional and local employers now and in the future.” Bill Rammell MP, Minister of State for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education 2006.
Jon Fairburn was approached by Sarah Gayton (a local entrepreneur) on behalf of the farming community for help with a project to promote Staffordshire during the Olympic year. The initial idea is to use smart bar codes and smart phones to promote the region i.e. a person swipes their phone against the smart bar code on a food product and it brings up a promotional film about its origin, makers and history. Sarah has promoted this idea a lot and there is enthusiastic support for this project in the area from a range of stakeholders (tourist authorities, farming bodies). She produced a series of films but the quality of films produced has been poor, here is an example  Furthermore Sarah has no background or knowledge of viral and social marketing.

Students on the Level 4 Film Technology module will be given a film brief created by a local entrepreneur (Sarah Gayton) and Jon Fairburn to develop a series of films to promote tourism (especially food and farming) in Staffordshire for the 2012 Olympics. Working in teams of five they will have to research:

  1. the methods needed to create films suitable for use on smart phones as well as a website.

  2. issues around farmers, food producers, and tourism.

“Work-related creative collaborations as part of an academic course of study open up a broader view of career possibilities...” (Ball et al., 2010)
Sarah and Jon will introduce the brief and the students will then have to do an initial pitch of an idea (see timeline below) for which they will get feedback. Once these have been accepted they will then research and produce a film featuring local businesses and producers. The brief will include the need for the team to have researched previous film promotional campaigns guided by James Fair (effectively a type of literature review) to help inform and develop their ideas and to have reviewed the importance of farm produce and tourism to the rural economy of Staffordshire (guided by Jon Fairburn). This research will also allow them to construct a set of informed research questions suitable for interviewing the farmers and food producers and so help produce a high quality films.
Our approach we believe is classified as “Research-based: where students learn as researchers, the curriculum is largely designed around inquiry-based activities, and the division of roles between teacher and student is minimised.” Jenkins et al., (2007). Furthermore, this type of activity amongst first year creative arts students is seen as beneficial “Experiences of research as evidencing and developing students’ own ideas or as making discoveries seem to have been especially stimulating and powerful in fostering students’ emergent sense of intellectual freedom, personal authority and identification with their academic or professional discipline” Levy and Petrulis (pg 11, 2011) 
The film brief approach means they will be working in a consultancy capacity with customers outside the University and outside their Faculty. Jon Fairburn will provide guidance on consultancy skills and discussion of the innovation process. “The strongest single message we received from employers was the value of work experience.” Dearing 1997



An evaluation of the Eyjafjallajökull eruption of 2010

Harris, T., Dewey, A, Hargreaves, H and Price, K. An evaluation of the Eyjafjallajökull eruption of 2010 on glacier-fed hydrological systems in Iceland.

Following the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in April 2010, the volcano gained world-wide notoriety for the production of an ash cloud that grounded aircraft across Europe and North America. However, the vast majority of ash produced by the volcano did not travel so far, but came to earth in Iceland. In particular the Eyjafjall glacier and the adjacent Mýrdalsjökull ice-cap were covered in ash. Whilst the immediate impact of the eruption was to generate flash floods (jökulhlaupið) in Markafljót, the main river draining Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull to the west, the cover of ash had a longer term impact upon glacier melt and thus rivers flowing from the glaciers during the summer of 2010. Despite the relatively low rainfall over the summer of 2010 (Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO) Data) river flow adjacent to the two ice caps remained at near-normal levels (Roberts, pers.comm).
Although the causes and effects of fluctuations in discharge associated with variable glacier ablation have been studied at a number of temporal scales (Benn and Evans, 2010) and the effect of volcanic ash cover and other debris upon glacier ablation has been occasionally studied (Kirkbride and Dugmore, 2003; Nicholson and Benn, 2006; Brock et al. 2010; Rchardson and Brook, 2010) the impact of an ashfall upon fluvio-glacial river regimes following an eruption is not represented in glaciological literature. The longer term (>48 hours) impact of recent vulcanism upon river flow regimes has not yet been studied in Iceland; although factors affecting river hydrology is of great local importance for the many hydroelectric stations in Iceland. 
The proposal intends to generate up to three projects that will utilise data collected by the IMO under the supervision of Dr. Mathew Roberts (in Iceland) and Tim Harris (in the UK). The proposed projects will analyse data covering two ablation seasons (2010 and 2011) and attempt to evaluate the impact of the 2010 eruption on the rivers draining the Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull ice caps. Anecdotal evidence suggests a legacy of increased river discharge in the months following the eruption, but no quantitative studies have been made. The IMO has river recording stations that record river depth, temperature, electrical conductivity and discharge. Comparison can be made with data from previous years, and also between glacially-fed and non-glacially fed rivers during 2010-2011. One issue, for example, of potential study will be changes in electrical conductivity of glacially and non-glacially fed rivers. Meltwater generated by eruptions is known to have very high conductivity in Iceland (Roberts et al 2002.)

The Time To Be In Stoke-on-Trent

Phillips, L and Southall, C. W The Time To Be In Stoke-on-Trent

Working with a small cohort of selected students and local industry contacts, we aim to facilitate an exchange of ideas and research, as well as promote Stoke-on-Trent as a place to visit and study. The culmination of research and project activity will result in a mini-conference to be held at Staffordshire University in May 2012.

2012 will be a pivotal year for British tourism as the UK is presented with numerous high-profile opportunities to perform on the World stage. Alongside the London 2012 Olympics and complementing the sports events will be the London 2012 Festival which will form a key part of VisitEngland’s national marketing strategy to boost domestic tourism (E-Tid, 2011).

VisitEngland’s marketing campaign ‘The Time to be in England’, aims to inspire Britons to take more short breaks at home, thus boosting economic growth in the form of tourism and event job creation and increased income. The London 2012 Olympic bid outlined culture, education and sport as key pillars of the Games and this presents higher education, tourism and events in particular, with the ideal opportunity to align a cultural project with the promotion of UK 2012 and the UK tourism industry.

We aim to introduce the students to an activity that will contribute to the research process as well as address the ‘communications gap’ between employers and educators (Haywood and Maki, 1992). What is clear is that “work-related creative collaborations as part of an academic course of study open up a broader view of career possibilities...” (Ball et al, 2010:6). The specific skill sets of IT literacy, good social skills, product knowledge and sales ability, as well as industry suitability in terms of attitude, reliability, adaptability and creativity (Major and Evans, 2008; Ball et al, 2010), will all be encouraged and enhanced throughout this project. Tourism management students at level 5 study Tourist Destinations in Semester 2. Additionally Event management students study the same module at level 6 (whilst level 6 students will not be participating in this project, current level 5 (Event Management) students will be recruited on the basis that any research and involvement in this project will serve to enhance their input in their level 6 assessment in the next academic year). Students will be encouraged to participate in this project (on the basis of application) in order to facilitate the research process for this module in particular. Furthermore it will be made clear that the Tourist Destinations module assessment will focus on the ‘impact of 2012’ thus incorporating both a tourism and event-specific focus in its design. It should be stressed that students not directly involved in the research and conference organisation will not be disadvantaged in terms of module assessment, providing that they make every effort to engage with the opportunity presented by the conference, in terms of accessing research carried out by their peers, attending student dissemination forums and networking with guest speakers.

The student cohort will be recruited following a request for the submission of a conference proposal based on a brief related directly to UK 2012 with regards to culture and heritage. The brief will outline the importance of UK 2012 in presenting the UK on the World stage. It will also focus on the importance and growth of domestic tourism in the UK and the contribution of culture to anticipated growth. The importance of Stoke-on-Trent as a visitor destination will also be outlined. The proposed conference will combine local and regional guest speakers, present student research regarding the importance and contribution of UK 2012 to the UK (from an economic, social and environmental perspective) and would also be used as a platform to indirectly promote the City and University. Students would be encouraged to request contributions and attendance from local and regional colleges and universities.

It is anticipated that collaboration between tourism and event management students would enhance the outcome of this project in the sharing and discussing of ideas, concepts and research. 

Ball, L., Blythman, M., Hardie, K., Jackson, N., Shreeve, A., Sovic, S., Smith, C., Triantafyllaki, A., Wareing, S. and Willis, J. (2010) Creative Interventions: Valuing and Fostering Creative Arts Students Work-related Learning in the Public and Third Sectors. London:HEA.


Volunteering Journeys

Reynolds, J. & Vincent, P. Volunteering Journeys.

The Creative Communities Unit has an on-going strand of work around developing skills and engagement in digital storytelling. This has included involvement in developing a series of film and digital story-telling workshops. These workshops included people with learning disabilities and people affected by mental distress as participants. As an outcome of these workshops, a Guide to Digital Storytelling was developed in partnership with Reach (a self-advocacy organisation for adults with learning disabilities). One of our aims has been to use digital storytelling to capture people’s experiences of involvement in decision making (an issue that links to various courses in our teaching programme). Several stories have already been recorded and were uploaded onto a Ning test-site. They are about to be uploaded to the Creating Communities ‘Ning’.
We would now like to extend our work around digital storytelling to include work with other community volunteers, which would develop the skills of students in using digital storytelling as a research method. The CCU has courses aimed at volunteers that run at levels 3, 4, 5 and 7. The level 4/ 5 course is offered as a general option to undergraduate students, and levels 3, 4 and 7 are offered as short courses for community volunteers. Each course requires that students complete a minimum of forty hours volunteering.

“Volunteering Journeys” is intended to involve students at a variety of levels as researchers and participants:

• Three undergraduate students would be involved as researchers, undertaking digitally recorded interviews with community volunteers. They would co-analyse the interviews and co-present the findings at a conference. These activities would be the basis of their forty hours of volunteering required for the course, and they would reflect upon their experiences of being a researcher in their presentations and reflective portfolios that are the assessment for the module. The interviews will be turned into digital stories for sharing online.
• Three community volunteers (students on short courses) would be involved in ‘telling their stories’ to the researchers and supported to edit their own interviews to create digital stories. In keeping with the principles of participatory research, they would also be involved in the digital storytelling training, analysis of interviews and in presenting the findings if they wish.
• The digital stories would be uploaded to Blackboard and the Creating Communities Ning in order to provide a teaching resource to support teaching and learning of future cohorts of students on the volunteering courses, and a wider community of practice.

This work is seen as a pilot stage of a longer term project around further developing the use of digital storytelling to support teaching and learning within the CCU. Further funding will be sought to support this on-going development. Read Jackie's blog to keep up-to-date. 

Alderney Archaeology Project: Field School in Forensic Archaeology

Sturdy-Colls, C. Alderney Archaeology Project: Field School in Forensic Archaeology

The difficulties in obtaining casework and research experience in the field in forensic science have been a constant point of contention for academic staff and students (Hanson and Overton 2010). Given the nature of the evidence being examined, which is often of a sensitive nature, and the restrictions on the use of untrained personnel at crime scenes, students often face severe difficulties in achieving engagement with practitioners in the field and applying their theoretical knowledge to practical scenarios. Additionally, the lack of a research culture between forensic science undergraduates has been noted (Cassella 2008).

The examination of a socio-historic site on the island of Alderney, as part of a Research Informed Teaching exercise, is proposed as a means to alleviate these problems for a group of students studying forensic archaeology. Through examining the case study site using the same forensic archaeological methods that would be employed at a crime scene, students will be provided with the opportunity to develop skills in search and recovery, whilst engaging with practitioners in the field. The value of residential archaeological field projects in general in pedagogy relates to its ability not only to allow students to practically apply their theoretical knowledge and advance their fieldwork skills, but also to acquire skills in team working, communication and time management that cannot be gained through more didactic teaching styles.

The increased student motivation, engagement with material and greater retention of knowledge gained by students participating in research-led and inquiry-based projects has been noted by the academic community (Seymour et al 2004; Brew 2003; Hinnett 2002; Breen and Lindsay 1999). Such learning experiences require students to engage in experiential learning and take responsibility for their own development: ‘it enables learners to feel that they ‘own’ their knowledge and understanding because they have been a part of its creation’ (Moon 2005:12). This will be enhanced further where they have the opportunity to contribute to publications and conference papers deriving from the research or, in the case of this project, to also collect data that they can utilise for their third year dissertations.

Project Rationale and Outline

Alderney, in the Channel Islands, represents an unrecorded and unprotected landscape of conflict, occupation and persecution. During World War II, it was occupied by the Germans and housed the only SS camp on British soil, alongside several labour camps at which thousands of individuals lived, worked and died. Yet, despite their significance, the archaeological remains of this period remain dilapidated and unrecorded. Excepting a survey undertaken by the applicant in 2010, there has never been an attempt to examine the remains using forensic archaeological techniques.

Students would focus on the site of Lager Norderney. Despite the fact that Norderney was the largest of the forced labour camps, little survives in the modern landscape that is indicative of the site’s function and, with the exception of witness descriptions and aerial photographs, little evidence exists of the nature and extent of its layout. However, a combined topographic and geophysical survey by the applicant revealed the existence of features below the ground, including probable barracks, anti-aircraft shelters and pits. Students will participate in further landscape survey at the site, as well as excavation of one of the concrete structures.

This project will allow students to participate in a residential field course where the knowledge gained as part of the Forensic Archaeology module can be applied to an actual case study site. Practical work in field survey, geophysics, excavation and recording will be undertaken, thus providing an introduction to the practical applications of the methods discussed in taught sessions. Additionally, students will be expected to demonstrate competency in generic skills such as team working, communication and time management, not only during the field work itself but also whilst living together as a group for the duration of the course.