Access and Participation: Access2AECC Programme

Dr. Zöe Wimshurst and Danielle Oberman

This week, we are celebrating the launch of our 2020-2025 Access and Participation plan – which outlines our commitment to ensuring all young people we work with have equal access to Higher Education.

As part of this, we are sharing stories of some of the recent staff/student collaborations that have been taking place at AECC University College to offer more opportunities to more young people.

In this staff/student collaboration, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at AECC University College, Dr. Zöe Wimshurst, and Second Year MChiro student, Danielle Oberman, led a Psychology research group for Year 12 pupils as part of the Access2AECC scheme. Each pupil chose a mini research project to work on throughout the sessions.

The group first met virtually in October, when participants of the Access2AECC scheme were introduced to their tutors and the Specialist Student Ambassadors that they would be working with. In Zoe and Danielle’s group, the students each chose their project topics and their research question.

The group now meets online monthly. The sessions are designed to develop their interest in Psychology and to teach them skills that will help them in their studies.

Danielle explains more: “It’s fantastic that all of the students have come up with such different research questions. That was the focus of the first session, coming up with their question, and the next session that will be held this month is about collecting data. We also set them tasks to do between sessions.

“I love working with younger students and being involved in projects that are based on community work and getting people to understand the opportunities that they have. The outbreak of Covid-19 motivated me to take up the opportunities that I did have to work in Summer Schools and in this research project.

“I helped out at the AECC University College Summer School over the summer. We supported students in choosing a mini research project: the topics were all focused on the different health impacts of Covid-19. For example, how screen time has affected mental health, and how working from home has affected mental and physical health. This session focused on developing a robust research question.

“The sessions that we are currently running are more in-depth than the Summer School projects. We’re aiming to give students a taste of what it’s like to write a research paper: going through each of the steps.”

Motivation to help

Zöe continues: “Having Danielle’s help with these tutorials has been brilliant. As a student, Danielle is a really good communicator and she’s able to speak to younger students in a way that they really engage with and respond to. She brings her own ideas, which is great.

“Students bring a different view to things, especially when it comes to explaining things. Working together in this way, you get new perspectives on things. It’s great to see their ideas developing each time that we meet.

“It’s really important to me that I’m involved in Access and Participation at AECC University College. My dad went to University and my mum studied a lot at night school when I was growing up, so I knew what it was like to study and it was familiar to me. I know a lot of young people aren’t in this position and aren’t aware of the options that are available to them. I want to help people in that situation.

“I do a lot of work in Sport, which is very male-dominated, and I believe it’s important to represent women in these kinds of worlds. I also find my research and work really interesting and I love talking about it! Explaining and talking about my work helps me to think about it in different ways, which is really useful.

“I also take part in an online science outreach programme, which takes place all around the country – it’s called I’m A Scientist Get Me Out of Here. It connects school students with scientists through energetic real-time text based chats.

“Students can ask you anything: from the work you’re doing to telling them a joke. They ask you about how you got into your science and it gives them a chance to see what a scientist is and how different we all are.”

You can find out more about Access and Participation at AECC University College here