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Double Strathclyde success in KE competition

Strathclyde researchers have picked up a prize and a commendation in a Scotland-wide research impact and knowledge exchange competition.

Kirsten Russell (left) and Katie Hunter

Katie Hunter, a Research Associate in Strathclyde’s School of Education, won first prize overall in the awards, made by the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science (SGSSS), for her research into schools with low progression rates to higher education. The project contributed to the establishment of a successful mentoring project.  

Kirsten Russell, a Psychology Research Assistant, was commended for her study of the psychological links between sleep and self-harm in young people.

SGSSS is the UK's largest facilitator of funding, training and support for doctoral students in social science. It combines the expertise of 16 universities across Scotland to facilitate world-class PhD research.

Katie’s research found that, among 28 of the highest attaining pupils in a school in a disadvantaged area of Glasgow, no pupils had immediate family members with experience either of university or of professions which would normally require a degree. She then examined the pupils’ moves towards highly competitive university courses and professions and the ways in which they drew on experiences in their immediate networks; the study highlighted the practical support pupils needed in their academic work and the process of applying to university.

Katie said: “I worked with the school to establish a small pilot mentoring project with 12 volunteers who were mostly retired professionals. My research findings and experience of working with the young people informed the ways in which these volunteers were supported.

“As a collective process between teachers, colleagues at Strathclyde and volunteers, this work grew into a successful mentoring project – the Intergenerational Mentoring Network.

“An outcome has been to understand the value of a more mentoring based relationship which offers personal encouragement and emotional support, at what can be a stressful and confusing time for young people as they plan their futures.”

The research has led to the publication of three journal articles and the impact of the project has been presented to the Scottish Government, the Scottish Mentoring Network and Generations Working Together.

Kirsten examined in detail sleep and self-harm in a sample of more than 1000 Scottish adolescents. She has shared her findings with Sleep Scotland and the Scottish Association of Mental Health and has engaged with teachers and parents to provide education on adolescent sleep.

She said: ”I am an adolescent sleep ambassador with Sleep Scotland and, on the basis of my PhD findings, was able to tailor sleep education to the sleep issues facing young people in Scotland with the aim of facilitating behaviour change.

“I have contributed to the provision of sleep and digital wellbeing workshops in which we discussed our research, the importance of sleep for young people in terms of health and wellbeing and determined what research questions young people, parents and teachers would like answered by future studies.

“Adolescent sleep research has been largely neglected in the UK. As a result, these findings have the potential to influence the development of policy and practice to improve adolescent sleep health. The results of this investigation also have the potential to influence self-harm risk assessment, prevention and intervention by providing information on the specific sleep problems associated with self-harm risk, as well as the potential psychological pathways linking sleep and self-harm. This is important given that, unlike some of the most robust correlates of self-harm, sleep patterns and problems are modifiable.”

SGSSS is funded jointly by the Economic and Social Research Council and the Scottish Funding Council.

29 January 2018