Dr Jacqueline Akhurst
International Scholar 2012
Job title: Principal Lecturer in Psychology
Organisation: York St John University
Read Jacqueline's International Scholarship report:
Enhancing Psychology Students’ Employability through International Community-based Work Placements
Dr Jacqui Akhurst has a passionate commitment to the development of Community Psychology in the UK. Drawing on her previous experience as an academic in South Africa and as a staff member at the HEA Psychology Network, her work has focused on two main themes. These are: (i) students’ career development and service learning, including employability and work-based learning, materials development, international placements and reflective learning; and (ii) enhancing postgraduate students’ experiences, linked to professional training in Psychology. Examples of this include establishing a UK-wide network, ongoing development of peer group supervision, and developing effective research-based postgraduate teaching.
Jacqui’s current pedagogic research investigates Psychology students’ experiences of international community-based work placements. This combines work-based learning, community-based learning (CBL, also termed ‘service learning’) and initiatives to provide international work placements for undergraduates at York St John University (YSJU), thus enriching the students’ experience and learning, and potentially contributing to their employability. Her interests in CBL originate from project work at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and over the past four years she has accompanied 54 students from YSJU, in groups of various sizes, to undertake CBL in the USA, Tanzania and South Africa.
Jacqui has a number of teaching-related publications, including two book chapters: ‘A UK perspective on psychological literacy and citizenship’ (co-written with Annie Trapp) in The Psychologically Literate Citizen edited by Cranney and Dunn (2011); and ‘Issues in postgraduate teaching’ in Teaching psychology in higher education by Upton and Trapp (Eds, 2010). She authored the HEA Psychology Network report Enhancing the employability of psychology graduates. Her innovations include the first illustrative UK DVD on peer group supervision for trainee psychologists (at http://lutube.leeds.ac.uk/avsmas/videos/347); an online ‘Card Sort’ tool, to encourage Psychology students to assess their skills (http://www.Psychology.heacademycademy.ac.uk/cardsort2/cardsort_Psychology/); and the Occupational Therapy Card Sort, supported for UK-wide use by the College of Occupational Therapists.
Jacqui is the inaugural chair of the Community Psychology Section of the British Psychological Society (BPS). In this role, she is representing the BPS on a European task force considering postgraduate training in Community Psychology.
The scholarship project aims to investigate ways of supporting students' learning when engaging in CBL in Africa and the impacts on students' development and knowledge related to employability. The work will also reflect on what learning in this way might teach us about enhancing local community engagement in the UK and integrating such work into psychology programmes.