DSE212 & DD307 update

The time seems to be flying over and workload wise things are crazy at the moment. I am now up to TMA05 with DSE212 which is a 2500 word qualitative report. *So far* I am finding it a great deal more enjoyable than the quantitative report we had a while back, which I really struggled with, however I much prefer debates and essay writing to reports! It’s due in on 23rd of April, so next Wednesday, and my plan is to focus solely on this until then and then move on the the project proposal for DD307 due in 15th May. Trying to split my time between the two gets extremely confusing and I find it easier to focus on one then the other.
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The DSE212 report is so so and I am not overly excited about it but so far I feel it is going well. I am however really looking forward to getting stuck into the project proposal for DD307 and the actual project (which I think follows!) I have only started jotting down some thoughts for the proposal and read through the project booklet as from next Wednesday this will be my focus. DD307 is a minefield and although module material wise there is only 2 small text books, there is so much information contained within! I am still waiting to hear back from my tutor with some queries I had as there is so much to the proposal but if all goes well I am hoping to bring a criminological element to it!
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My biggest concern at the moment is that added into the mix will be revision for the DSE212 exam in June, I started off preparing for the exam early on as alongside standard revision there is 45 key terms to learn however due to other commitments I haven’t done anything revision wise since before Christmas! Once the exam is over I can be fully dedicated to DD307 which *should* make a huge difference!

How is everyone else getting on?

Organisation

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I wanted to share my diary with you as it’s something I couldn’t be without. As I work part time, in the final year of my degree, volunteer, have a dog and a horse, a baby on the way as well as the rest of life’s commitments I sometimes find it difficult to keep track of things as I rarely do the same thing on the same day each week. Writing things down works so much better for me than setting reminders or using the calendar on my phone. Not only does it help me remember but I would choose books or handwritten things everyday over gadgets! My diary of choice is a Filofax and I am now on to my second. Not only are they gorgeous to look at but I like the fact that you can customise them to contain anything and everything to fit your life perfectly! I keep so much information in my Filofax I would be lost without it!

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From front to back I have:
Finances
Week by Week diary
Volunteering notes
Degree notes
Shopping lists
To Do lists
Address book
Plain paper

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My latest Filofax is only around 2 months old and so I may still play around with the order and most likely will add sections to it. Both of my Filofax’s have been the Finsbury Personal’s and I have found them to be fantastic and well worth the money! Although my old Filofax is looking a little tatty it is years old and is still in perfectly good working order and so I am thinking of what I could use it for – I may well just end up using it as a very nice notebook! For anyone thinking about getting a Filofax if you think you will use it a lot I would recommend a darker colour as my original Filofax in pink doesn’t clean up as well as darker colours.

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I find it brilliant for university work as not only do I have TMA and exam dates in the diary section I have a section dedicated purely to study and can jot things down which come to mind whilst I am out and about and I know nothing will end up getting misplaced.

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I LOVE stationary and organisation so would love to hear how you keep organised!

Memory is a constructive and active process, evaluate this claim…

Memory is a well-researched area of psychology dating back many years. In its most basic form it comprises of three key processes. These processes are encoding, which is responsible for entering information gathered through the senses and encoding it into the memory system. Storage, which is used to retain coded information in the memory system and retrieval which is the final stage of the three key memory processes, and it involves getting all of this information out of the memory store.

There are many aspects that make up memory processes and the way in which memory is discussed, researched and understood today is drastically different from when psychologists first started discussing memory and its functions. Defining memory is not necessarily straightforward as it encompasses a number of aspects from retaining information such as events and images etc. to acting as the storage system in the brain which holds this information. These simplified aspects of memory make up the processing model of encoding-storage-retrieval. It is a ‘bottom-up’ model which is a cognitive theory beginning with inputting information in its ‘raw’ form and then working ‘upwards’ through other processes, in this case from encoding to storage to finally the retrieval.
As mentioned there are a number of aspects which make up memory and processes of memory which can lead us to argue that memory as a whole may not be a constructive and active processes as there are so many individual components that certain elements of memory may be a passive process.

A supporter of memory being an active process is Frederic C. Bartlett (1932 cited in Brace and Roth 2007) who used a number of stories in order to demonstrate the dynamic and active process he argues memory is. One particular story is ‘The War of the Ghosts’ (1932) Briefly, the story begins with two young men and goes on to describe a journey they undertake providing a great amount of detail along the way such as how the weather was at certain points, individuals comments right down to the feelings that were experienced. ‘Bartlett found that, when people tried to recall the story, the one they told was different from the original.’ (Brace and Roth, 2007. P.132) His work suggests (that) a top-down approach, again a cognitive process ‘controlled by general principles, thoughts or ideas about the nature of the material being processed.’ (Reber, 2001) Another of Bartlett’s ((1932)) ideas is that we use pre-existing schematic information to rework memories producing alternative versions depending upon an individuals’ needs and circumstances. Schematic information relates to ‘mental representations that are constructed as a result of past experience; any new perceptual input is interpreted in terms of these schemata.’ (Brace and Roth, 2007. P.132) Bartlett ((1932)) uses experiments in order to research memory and his work does seem to have ecological validity. ‘The War of the Ghosts’ (1932) and similar stories may show how knowledge we have gained previously, influences what we remember from an event or situation. Put simply Bartlett ((1932)) suggests that what you recall and ‘remember’ after hearing a story is dependent on knowledge previously gained. A number of factors can influence the accuracy of an individual’s memory and information may become merged with other information.

Issues affecting the accuracy of memory may also be a result of earlier processes, such as information not being encoded properly or efficiently along with a number of other reasons e.g. cues that were present at encoding not being available at retrieval. This may lead to discussion and an argument that memory is a constructive and active process due to the changeable nature in the way (in which) memory becomes effective. Alongside Bartlett’s (1932) thoughts, more recent discussion provided by Loftus and Palmer ((1974)) focuses on ‘leading questions’ with regards to memory and the effect they have. ‘Loftus and Palmer (1974) showed video clips of car accidents to 45 participants who were then asked to describe what happened and were (posed) given a number of specific questions.’ (cited in Brace and Roth, 2007. P.133) Participants were then later asked these questions which were made up of the same sentence with a differing verb. The original question used the word ‘hit’ with regards to the cars colliding however alternative words which were used were words such as ‘bumped’ or ‘smashed’ etc. ((2007)). Similarly to Bartlett’s findings that individuals’ accounts differ when retelling information, Loftus and Palmer (1974 suggest the same occurs when recalling specific information. Loftus and Palmer (1974) found that ‘participants’ responses showed that estimates of speed increased with the increased violence implied by the verb.’ (Brace and Roth, 2007. P.133) Along with leading questions this research focuses on the ‘misinformation effect’ which has direct links and similarities to memory being a constructive and active process. The misinformation effect involved information and knowledge which is gained at a later date having an effect on earlier information which had already been stored within the memory. This suggests that memory is an active process both building on and taking from previously encoded information.

Although there is evidence supporting the notion that memory is a constructive and active process it can also be argued that memory, or at least certain aspects of memory, is a passive process of recording information. ‘Enduring memories’ are generally accurate and long-lasting leading to information being well remembered and accessed with little or no effort. (you need some brief description of evidence and a reference here). Another aspect of memory which could be used to argue that memory is a passive process is that of ‘flashbulb memories.’ ‘Brown and Kulik (1977 cited in Brace and Roth 2007) coined the term ‘flashbulb memory’ to refer to an autobiographical memory for the personal circumstances during which we first learn of a very surprising and emotionally arousing event.’ (Brace and Roth, 2007. P.140) This may suggest that flashbulb memories are produced efficiently and rapidly and don’t take the repetition and recall that other forms of knowledge and memory need in order for it to be stored. Therefore enduring memories and flashbulb memories may be more of a passive process.

Memory is a complex and changeable mechanism which is made up of a number of processes however whether memory is a constructive and active process is still debatable. There is a vast array of information and evidence such as Bartlett’s (1932) ‘The War of the Ghosts’ to Loftus and Palmer’s (1974) research using video clips of car accidents and the misinformation effect which all suggest that memory is an active process as it is constantly drawing on stored knowledge whilst encompassing new knowledge. However it is important to consider conflicting evidence which supports (a more passive approach to) that some aspect of memory are passive, such as enduring memories, which focus on longer term memory and information being stored and retrieved more passively. Brown and Kulik’s (1977) flashbulb memory also supports the notion that memory has a passive element. (In my opinion,) It would seem, drawing from evidence presented, that memory involves (d) both active and passive processes depending on social and environmental factors present at the time.

References:
Brace, N. and Roth, I. (2007) ‘Memory: structures, processes and skills’ in D. Miell, A. Phoenix, and K. Thomas. Mapping Psychology, Milton Keynes, The Open University

Reber, A and Reber, E. (2001) ‘Top-down processing’ in Reber. A, and Reber. E. The Penguin Dictionary of Psychology, London, The Penguin Group

New beginnings

I just wanted to share a little update as my blog posts may be few and far between over the next couple of weeks.
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University
Is manic! Doing two demanding modules alongside each other is certainty hard work, with the end of my degree in sight I hope I can manage to keep going. So far *touch wood* I haven’t noticed a huge decrease in marks, maybe 3 or 4 marks per TMA but still remaining within the same overall grade bracket so I am pleased about that.

Volunteering
Unfortunately I am no longer volunteering as a drug and alcohol recovery group facilitator. With everything else going on at the moment I was conscious that I would start to do a shoddy job! I would much rather give my all to one voluntary position than two so I am now just volunteering as a mentor to male offenders upon release from HMP Durham. Although I loved my time volunteering for an addiction charity I was newer to the organisation and had much further to travel with less flexibility. I am hoping to keep in touch with everyone I have met with the possibility of getting involved again in the future.
With regards to my mentoring, I am currently working with one guy who is progressing very well and we meet up on a weekly basis.

Life
I have just moved house, which may explain the lack of blog posts as I had no internet for a while and I still don’t have my desk and computer all set up! I have been spending my time trying to get small sections of uni reading done in-between packing and unpacking boxes! And this is just a temporary move so I could be going through it all again in 8-14 months time *shudder*!
On a brighter note I am 4 months pregnant and very excited!

I am hoping to get some time to blog about something a little more interesting than myself soon!

Dangerous Dogs

I have just watched the ITV programme aired last night called ‘Dangerous Dogs’ which is still available on iPlayer for anyone who is interested to watch, https://www.itv.com/itvplayer/dangerous-dogs/series-1/episode-1
I rarely watch these types of programmes and was extremely hesitant to watch this one as, like many others, I am a real animal lover and often find these reaction provoking programmes difficult to stomach and I suppose it’s often a case of ignorance is bliss. I have grown up surrounded by cats, dogs, horses, rabbits, hamsters and whole lot more and can honestly never remember a time in my life I didn’t have an animal in my life. When it comes to animal cruelty I am guilty of letting my emotions get the better of me which is why I can be reluctant to discuss it as we are all aware that being too emotional leads to saying things you may not necessarily mean! After watching the programme I thought that I would share my thoughts on here. Although the programme was titled ‘Dangerous Dogs’, for me it wasn’t about that at all. It highlighted the growing problem we have here in the UK of irresponsible owners and breeders. Although I am aware cruelty and abuse cases can’t all be generalised there are common threads which run through a number of these cases, not just the ones highlighted on the programme. The stand out condition for me is the inappropriate surroundings and living conditions for these dogs. In so many cases these animals are kept in extremely small properties, often with a number of residents as well as dogs kept inside leading to a great deal of overcrowding and on top of this no real routine is established. One bedroom high-rise flats are not appropriate for two medium sized dogs along with a litter of ten puppies to be living in. The lack of exercise and correct exercise also seems to be apparent which understandably leads to a whole number of behavioural issues and something which is a major problem. Every animal needs to have the correct environment and exercise in order to be well mentally. Although a 45 minute television programme doesn’t give a clear and full picture, the properties in which these dogs were kept in, to me, all looked the same. The properties were dull, dirty and every single owner shown on the programme were disinterested.

For me the problem is irresponsible owners, often not intentionally, and many owners lack the knowledge or experience of dealing with dogs. Undoubtedly there are ‘trends’ when it comes to dogs and breeding and this is a major concern for those working towards ending animal cruelty. How anyone can repeatedly breed from an undernourished dog and continue to sell puppies who are not old enough to leave their mothers is shocking, yet it seems to be big business for so many. You only need to look on Gum Tree and such websites to see hundreds of adverts selling dogs for as little as £10, which often attracts another irresponsible owner creating a viscous cycle.
Ban Bad Owners
I try to discuss and debate things from a relatively neutral position and do try and understand both sides to a story, however I find it nearly impossible to do so with this issue. Although I have a great deal of practical experience with animals and hold qualifications in equine science I am in no way claiming to be an expert on this problem. For me a starting point would be to enforce strict regulations as to who and how you can get a dog. Of course there are always people who will find a way and some sort of animal licensing or ownership tests would be hard to regulate but it seems like it may be a starting point. One thing I feel strongly about it that harsher penalties need to be put in place for those who abuse animals. Knowledge is power and people need to be educated about canine behaviour and needs. There seems to be this horrible trend of dominating animals, being aggressive along with aggressive body language leads to dogs to be frightened and when natural instincts kick in the dog is left with two options. Flight or fight.

I would love to hear peoples opinions as well as stories about your dogs or pets! I will leave you with a few pictures of my labrador Rolo when he was younger.

Rolo

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K9 Academy

Rolo Stick

International Day of Happiness

Today is Thursday 20th March 2014, International Day of Happiness. This day was established by the United Nations to help recognise the importance of well-being and happiness as universal goals for everyone around the world. You can follow along with happiness chat on Twitter using the hashtag #happinessday.

“Happiness may have different meanings for different people. But we can all agree that it means working to end conflict, poverty and other unfortunate conditions in which so many of our fellow human beings live.”
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Stay happy :-)
Seaton Sluice

30 – Second Psychology

30 Second Psych
If you have read the last few posts from myself it may come across that I have it in for psychology to a degree! That isn’t the case I am just struggling a little as I don’t have the same passion for it that I do for criminology. However there are certain aspects of psychology (particularly criminal psychology) that I do have a real interest in. When I am feeling a little overwhelmed with the work for both DSE212, Exploring Psychology and DD307, Social psychology - critical perspectives on self and others I tend to take a bit f a break and flick through some of the psychology books I have which I purchased for my own pleasure. Although it doesn’t change that I am having to cover certain areas I don’t connect to well with I do find that it gives me some inspiration and motivation to get through each piece of work I am focussing on. One of these books is ’30 – Second Psychology, The 50 most thought-provoking psychology theories, each explained in half a minute’ which is edited by Christian Jarrett. I personally find this a beautiful book and if I didn’t have a labrador who chews books, I would love to have it as a coffee table book as it is the perfect book to flick through at leisure. The book has a rustic brown cover and is brightly and well illustrated and is split into seven sections;

Old School, New School
Growth & Change
Decision Making & Emotions
Social Psychology
Ways We Differ
Disordered Minds
Thoughts & Language

30 Second Psych 2

I have a number of other psychology books which I love looking through and reading small sections however this book in particular really gives me inspiration when I need it.

30 Second Psych 1

Happy reading everyone :)

Where do I go next?

After every TMA I now submit I can’t help but think that I am one step closer to completing my degree in October 2014. My main reason for embarking on a criminology and psychological studies degree was for career purposes. There is no ‘one job’ that I am aiming for, but I want to be in the field of offending, drug and alcohol support, or homelessness so this degree seemed perfect for me. Although it is possible to get into some of these jobs without a degree I wanted to not only have the practical experience I have gained through volunteering and work but I wanted the knowledge too as I find criminology fascinating. I am hoping to use my degree and the voluntary work I have done with Victim Support, mentoring ex-offenders and facilitating a drug and alcohol support group along with my paid employment working for a social enterprise will help in getting me into this work once my degree is complete. I don’t want to just stop there as I am passionate about criminology as a whole and I most definitely want to go on to some further study – this is the difficult part! There are a number of areas I would love to study further but how on earth do you decide?! My original plans were to do a Masters however I am now wondering if a shorter course would be more beneficial as I am so unsure as to which direction to focus on and I enjoy my voluntary work more than my degree now!

Areas of interest to myself are:
High Risk Offenders
Drug and Alcohol Addiction
Criminal Law
UK Prison System
The Criminal Justice System
Mental Health

Life after a degree

I have tried and tried but can’t seem to put theses in any sort of order. I was involved in a suicide prevention training course and that became my number one and then I flick through the array of criminal law books I have and that takes over! Whatever I decide I will be going into part time study of some sort as my degree has been the priority for a while now and although I love studying I would like it to take a bit of a back seat and not be so full on!

I would love to hear what others have done after their degree or what you are planning to do!
Sophie

DD307 Update

DD307 – Social psychology: critical perspectives on self and others
Since January 25th 2014 I am officially doing two Open University modules and DD307 is the final module of my degree – eek! I have just submitted the first TMA (tutor marked assignment) so I thought now would be an ideal time to share my first thoughts about the module. The study planner is set out slightly different than all of my previous modules, generally there is a week by week guide as to what reading, activities etc. are advised to do however DD307 comes in blocks. For each block, which cover 2-3 weeks, they have the chapters of books, video clips and anything else recommend to do so better planning and time management is needed! I don’t mind this so much but I have had to double (and triple check) in places that I haven’t missed anything. Just like DSE212 the reading is heavy going, it covers a lot of ground and is extremely fast paced. With regards to what is actually studied I am enjoyed the social psychology topics more than the topics covered in DSE212. DD307 is focussed around 4 perspectives and 4 interrogative themes. We haven’t been introduced to these fully however I do get the feeling that understanding and involving these in essays is the way to score the better marks!.

Perspectives
Cognitive Social
Social Psychoanalytic
Discursive Psychological
Phenomenological

Interrogative Themes
Power Relations
Situated Knowledge
Individual Society Dualism
Agency-Structure Dualism

DD307 Book 1

The first TMA due was all about crowds, anonymity and theories of crowd behaviour. I really enjoyed the reading and the putting together of this TMA as to me it was relatable, current and thought provoking. Some of the reading focussed on the 2011 London riots and the mass protests in Tahir Square, Egypt in 2011.
I’m always nervous about submitting the first TMA on a new module as I have no idea what to expect marks wise – I will however let you know how I get on! (fingers crossed)

If I wasn’t overlapping this module with DSE212 I would love to spend more time reading a number of books from the further reading list as I am finding the areas covered fascinating and relevant.

I would love to hear from anyone who has, will be or is thinking about studying DD307 as from much of what I have read online it seems to be a very marmite module!
Sophie :)

DSE212 Update

I haven’t posted on here for a while and I suppose this post may explain why! After being pleased with my first two results for DSE212 75 and 83 I knew that next on the agenda was tackling a quantitative report. I hate working with numbers and report writing is most definitely not my forte so I wasn’t looking forward to it one bit. We were provided with a set of pre collected data and instructions as to how to undertake the experiment, focusing on the Stroop effect, and then asked to repeat this experiment on four people we know. We then had to add the data to the pre collected stuff and input in all into SPSS, a statistical software package *shudder*! Supposedly this was pretty straightforward and SPSS was assumed to calculate three values which we then needed to analyse, the t, p and d value – also known as effect size. However the preparation for this report was spread over two textbooks, an online booklet and a number of help sheets which ended up becoming extremely confusing and, although possibly it was just me, making it very difficult to interpret the data. There was also a couple of equations which needed to be calculated by hand, such as finding the mean and standard deviation.

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Knowing I had to embark on this, for the first time this year I ended up putting it off a little. The reading for it was fine, and some of it was actually rather interesting however I find it very difficult to get my head around numbers, data etc. and as mentioned I much prefer essay writing than reports – I like having an opinion and creating arguments! I finally managed to upload SPSS to my laptop and had a play around entering some example data and then my laptop died….I was lucky enough to get a replacement computer (and a very snazzy one at that) but would SPSS work, no!! So I contacted the technical support team and got in touch with my tutor and couldn’t work out weather SPSS wasn’t compatible with my computer or if it was having problems as I had previously installed it. This of course set me back even further and I finally managed to install it on my mum’s computer – which then mean’t I could only use her laptop to do all of the SPSS work. By this point if I handed in an essay it wouldn’t have even scraped a pass and so for the first time throughout my Open University career I asked for an extension!

To cut a long story short I have just submitted and feel like such a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Although I am overlapping with DD307, another psychology module, there is no more need (as far as I can tell) for SPSS!

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I am happier with my report than I thought I would be but unfortunately it is no where near the standard as my other essays. In an ideal world I would get a 60 however I feel low 50′s may be the case! For me this has been such a learning curve – and I haven’t necessarily learn’t anything psychology related from it! Although the next essay is an actual essay the choice of title’s don’t draw me in and I have no real passion for the specific areas of psychology! It has however confirmed to me that I do not enjoy psychology as a whole and I definitely have my favourite areas of the subject. I now know that any further study will definitely go down the criminology route and I feel I may be leaving psychology behind me. It is definitely something I would enjoy researching at my own pace and not being dictated to as to which areas to study and write about.

Onwards and upwards!