University of Stirling

Development and External Affairs

Media

 

News Archive

January 2006

If You Want to Know the Answer, Look Away Now

Arts Broadcaster Made Honorary Professor

Executive Supports University’s Dementia Care Efforts

Promising Rights: A New Book on Children's Rights in School

 

If You Want to Know the Answer, Look Away Now

Date released: Wednesday 11 January 2006

Teaching young children to look away while they are thinking could help improve their problem-solving abilities.

Researchers at the University of Stirling recruited 20 five-year-old children and videoed them while they answered a range of verbal and arithmetic questions of varying difficulty (e.g. "What is a telescope?"). The children were tested individually, with all questions posed by the same researcher who sat 1.5 feet in front of them. During a practice session and before the test proper, half the children were instructed to look away from the researcher while they thought of answers to the questions; the remaining children received no such instruction and acted as controls.

The study found that the children encouraged to look away while they were thinking, did indeed look away more than the controls (52.5 per cent of the time on average vs. 34.7 per cent). The difference was particularly noticeable for harder questions, whereas it was absent for the easy maths questions. Crucially, the children trained to look away also answered more questions correctly than the control children (72.5 per cent vs. 55.9 per cent).

The researchers said: "Given that five-year-old children could readily be trained to increase their use of gaze aversion, coupled with the finding that this training could significantly benefit performance, encouragement of gaze aversion while the child is thinking appears to be a simple, yet effective way in which to significantly improve a five-year-old child's cognitive performance."

The study also suggested that the extent of a child's gaze aversion could serve as a useful tool for identifying when children are engaged in cognitive activity.

A second experiment found that five-year-olds at the end of their first year of school engaged in more spontaneous use of gaze aversion than did five-year-olds half way through their first year, who in turn looked away more than children at the start of their first year.

"What still remains open to question", the researchers said, "is whether this developmental change occurs because of age-related advancements in the child's cognitive development or because of increased exposure to pedagogical interactions as a result of having entered formal education".

Lesley Pollock
Media Relations Manager
(01786) 467058

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Dr Gwyneth Doherty-Sneddon

University of Stirling

Stirling

FK9 4LA
Scotland

UK

telephone

Tel: +44 (0) 1786 467653


Arts Broadcaster Made Honorary Professor

Date released: Monday 16 January 2006

The University of Stirling has made Joan Bakewell CBE an honorary professor of its Department of Film & Media Studies in recognition of her contribution to print and broadcast journalism.

Ms Bakewell’s broadcasting career spans some 35 years. She first made her mark in television in the 1960s as the first female presenter of BBC 2’s Late Night Line Up. In the 1970s she presented BBC travel programmes as well as Granada’s Report Action. During the 1980s she was Arts correspondent for BBC Television and in the 1990s she wrote and presented The Heart of the Matter for BBC 1. She subsequently made the series My Generation and Taboo for BBC 2. Her contribution was honoured in 1994, when she won BAFTA’s Richard Dimbleby Award for Journalism.

Throughout her television career, Ms Bakewell has also worked in radio and print journalism. Her autobiography, The Centre of the Bed, was published in 2003 and her book Belief in 2005. Her fourth radio play Brought to Book was broadcast in November 2005 and she currently presents Belief for BBC Radio 3.

Head of the Department of Film & Media Studies, Professor John Izod said: “Joan Bakewell is one of the UK’s most distinguished arts broadcasters and print journalists. She has had a long and successful career as commentator on the arts and as a result has a wealth of experience to share with the University.”

Ms Bakewell visited the University in October 2005 to meet with staff and students. During her tour of the Department of Film & Media Studies she attended two classes and was interviewed by undergraduate journalists.


Her visit was closely followed by that of Honorary Professor and Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow and recently retired Channel 4 Political Editor, Elinor Goodman.

Lesley Pollock
Media Relations Manager
(01786) 467058

 

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Professor John Izod

University of Stirling

Stirling

FK9 4LA
Scotland

UK

telephone

Tel: +44 (0) 1786 467520


Executive Supports University’s Dementia Care Efforts

Date released: Wednesday 18 January 2006

Deputy Minister for Health and Community Care, Lewis Macdonald visited the University of Stirling’s Dementia Services Development Centre on Wednesday 18 January.

The Dementia Services Development Centre (DSDC) exists to extend and improve services for people with dementia and their carers. It works with planners, professional and support staff and providers of services in the statutory, voluntary, and private sectors in the UK and internationally. The Centre’s specialist library holds the UK’s largest collection of publications information and up to date news on dementia care.

The DSDC is located within the Iris Murdoch Building, a unique example of a public building designed on dementia friendly principles.

Director of DSDC, Professor June Andrews said: “We are delighted to welcome the Minister to The Dementia Services Development Centre where we continue to work towards improving care for people with Dementia and their carers. Around 62,000 people in Scotland have dementia which means this affects a great many families. Our objective is to build on the reputation that the University of Stirling has already in this field.“

During the visit Mr Macdonald confirmed his continuing support for the work of DSDC and congratulated the Centre on the recent award of a three year training grant from the Scottish Executive of around £250,000. This combines with other grants from the Executive for the on-going operation of the centre, which this year alone totals over £200,000.

Deputy Health Minister, Lewis Macdonald said: “The Centre has a strong international reputation for its valuable research and training it provides for people working with dementia patients. We continue to encourage better joint working between health and social work professionals and the voluntary sector to improve access to services for people with dementia and their carers.”

Lesley Pollock
Media Relations Manager
(01786) 467058

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Professor June Andrews

University of Stirling

Stirling

FK9 4LA
Scotland

UK

telephone

Tel: +44 (0) 1786 467740


Promising Rights: A New Book on Children’s Rights in School

Date released: Tuesday 24 January 2006

Children have the right to be involved in decisions affecting them, but making these rights a reality is a major task according to researchers at the University of Stirling. Allowing children to exercise their rights within schools is perhaps the most significant challenge as it requires radical changes to structures, practices and relationships between teachers and pupils.

A new book entitled Promising Rights, reports on the success of a Scottish primary headteacher in embracing children’s rights throughout the school and is based on research carried out by Professor Julie Allan and Dr John I’Anson of the University of Stirling in conjunction with Sue Fisher and Andrea Priestley of Save the Children.

The book tells of the school’s experimentation with more conventional forms of children’s participation, such as pupil councils and assemblies, before embarking on more ambitious activities. Establishing a ‘Special Needs Consultation Group’, for example, enabled the children to take rights – literally – for a walk and to identify disabling barriers within the school. The group did not stop at disability and decided to tackle ethnicity and ‘fat’ issues in their school.  As one member of the group said: “It doesn’t matter what hair colour you have, what eye colour you have, what origin you have, what colour your skin is. It doesn’t matter if a bit of your body doesn’t work – you have a right to come to this school.”

The book features the experience of one pupil who, through belonging to this group, transformed himself from a highly disruptive youngster to someone with responsibilities and who, in describing himself now, remarked: “Sometimes I’m amazing.”

Promising Rights will be of interest to anyone with an interest in schools and children’s place within them – headteachers, teachers, other adults in schools, school board members or governors and parents. It is not a technical manual on ‘how to do’ children’s rights, but will hopefully encourage others to experiment in their own schools and to push for greater involvement by children in the decisions that affect them most.

Lesley Pollock

Media Relations Manager

(01786) 467058

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Professor Julie Allan

University of Stirling

Stirling

FK9 4LA
Scotland

UK

telephone

Tel: +44 (0) 1786 467622 or 07725 000534