Glyndŵr boosts children’s reading – Wrexham Glyndŵr University research examines if robot dogs can help boost children’s reading
Glyndŵr To Investigate Whether Robotic Dogs Can Help Boost Children’s Reading
Psychology students have supported novel research examining how dogs and robotic dogs could boost children’s’ reading.
Glyndŵr boosts children’s reading. The project examines the impact that reading to the dogs has had on pupils at seven North Wales primary schools.
GwE, the fully bilingual School Effectiveness and Improvement Service for North Wales part-funded the project. GwE works with the local authorities of Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Gwynedd, Wrexham and Anglesey. Together they develop excellent schools across the region.
Glyndŵr lecturer Dr Shubha Sreenivas (see feature photograph) chose two psychology students – Andrew Paine and Kirsty Le-Cheminant (see embedded photo) – to run a qualitative research assessment on the data produced by the project, speaking to teachers, transcribing interviews and helping to produce a report on the research’s findings.
The research was also backed with a British Psychological Society (BPS) Research Assistantship, and is part of a wider-ranging study which has seen cross-collaboration between Glyndwr’s Psychology and Computing degrees and lecturers.
Kirsty said: “The research involved seven primary schools in North Wales. Our main aim was to qualitatively investigate the children’s experiences of reading in each group. And to interview teachers to investigate how they felt about the activity as well.
We therefore spent time interviewing children and teachers at the schools to discuss experiences of reading in each reading scenario. Andy and I then transcribed the interviews and began work on writing up the results of the research.”
Andy added: “This research was into a really interesting topic with potentially far-reaching implications in assisting children’s reading progression. We wanted to examine the benefits for a child when they read under the three conditions – to a teacher, to a live dog, and to a robotic dog – and to see which condition progressed the child’s reading age the most.”
A Series Of Changes
While plans for the research finished some time ago, the Covid-19 pandemic forced a series of changes upon both the researchers and the schools they were working with.
Kirsty said: “Due to Covid-19, we did have to cancel some of our face-to-face interviews due to not being able to go into schools. However, we did manage to conduct interviews with three schools overall.
“With schools having to close and make schools safe for pupils to return, the quantitative data we collected after the children had spent time in their reading scenarios was also minimal.”
And Andy added: “It was not an ideal situation for us and meant we only had limited data to analyse. However, we still had enough for meaningful interpretation.”
Both students have thanked their lecturers at Glyndwr for giving them the opportunity to take part in the research.
Andy said: “It was a great way to gain experience and an understanding of research processes.”
And Kirsty added: “I really enjoy studying Psychology at Glyndŵr. The team are very supportive and are always looking for ways to improve the course and give students the best opportunities.
A Very Welcome Distraction
“As a mature student with family and work commitments, this programme gave me the opportunity to work in my own time and was a very welcome distraction over ‘lockdown’. The project has also given me insight into what working as a research assistant would be like. I am certainly considering looking for research assistant positions in the future.”
Kirsty’s work was also supported by the BPS with a Research Assistantship. She added: “Overall, I am really happy that I was selected for the BPS Research Assistantship. I have found it to be an enjoyable and valuable experience. It has been a fantastic opportunity to develop my skills in areas I would not have otherwise had the opportunity to try.
“The project has also kept me engaged in academic studies over the summer and I now feel more confident going into the final year of my degree.”
The Research Assistantship is the latest boost for Glyndŵr’s Psychology team from the BPS – whose work on student enrichment the society commended earlier this year. In January, the British Psychological Society visited Wrexham Glyndŵr University as part of their ongoing accreditation process for the BSc (Hons) Psychology and MSc Psychology (Conversion) programmes.
Their report stated: “We commend the programme team for its hosting of the enrichment week dedicated towards psychology students. Students complimented the tailor-made advice offered to students throughout their journey at the university. This advice began from the open day and remained throughout the programme.
“The attendance of guest speakers and the involvement of charities promotes the ‘Engagement that Enables’ strategy at the university. The students commented on the confidence and growth acquired from taking part in the activities and opportunities through the week.”
Dr Shubha Sreenivas, Programme Leader for Glyndŵr’s MSc Psychology (Conversion) course, said: “I would like to thank Andy and Kirsty. They may not have been operating under the conditions we would have wished for. Consequently, their dedication to their work and speedy transformation of their approach helped produce a thorough report on the research we have been doing.
“I’d also like to thank the British Psychological Society for helping our work by funding a Research Assistantship. Alongside the rare commendation they gave us for providing an excellent student experience during our Enrichment Week, it is a testament to the work we’re doing here at Glyndŵr and we are very grateful.”
About Wrexham Glyndŵr University
To find out more about Wrexham Glyndŵr University’s BSc in Renewable Energy and Sustainable Engineering, click here.
Founded in 2008, Wrexham Glyndŵr University is a young, bold and vibrant university based in north-east Wales. The university has two campuses in Wrexham, Plas Coch and Regent Street plus campuses in Northop and St Asaph. In addition, in 2017, the university won the silver award in the Teaching Excellence Framework for the quality of teaching.
The university is driving academic excellence through a wide range of innovative and industry-relevant courses. Examples are Applied Science, Computing, Engineering, Creative Arts, Criminology and Psychology.
In conclusion, Wrexham Glyndŵr has been a Top 100 University in the WhatUni Student Choice Awards in 2019 and 2020. Besides this, the Campus 2025 strategy encompasses plans for new student accommodation. There will also be new car parking and upgraded facilities over the next five years.
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