‘Learning Abstracts’ from previous summer SLICCs
Students write a ‘Learning Abstract’ as part of their Final Reflective Report at the end of their SLICC. The learning abstract should include a brief outline of why the student initially chose their experience, what they wanted to learn about through their experience and a short overview of their learning journey. The abstracts offer insight into each student’s unique learning journey and provide examples of the types of experiences which students can use towards SLICC.
Below you will find Learning abstracts written by students who took part in Summer SLICCs during the 2020 pandemic. While only a few of them explicitly refer to this in their abstracts, the COVID-19 pandemic will have impacted each of the students' experiences to some extent - whether this be changing original experiences due to travel restrictions, internships and summer employment moving online, or simply getting used to the 'new normal'. All these students did a fantastic job of dealing the with challenges the pandemic presented and working through their SLICC at the same time.
Experience: Independent Research Project
When a fellow student asked for some help with the psychological basis of a research investigation into consumer behaviour and influencer marketing I jumped at the opportunity. As someone particularly interested in consumer behaviour, I had already interned at the Research Department of a marketing company, supporting a consumer behaviour research project. I was therefore eager to take part in this experience, anticipating the application and expansion of my basic researching skills and the learning of new ways in which psychology can help us understand marketing research, which is a field I would love to get involved in in the future.
I hoped to learn more about how social media influencers are used in marketing and to find out and whether the reason micro-influencers (1000-100,000 followers) are considered more effective than macro-influencers (100,000+ followers) is because of differences in people’s perceived credibility of them. We therefore decided to conduct our investigation into whether people perceive Instagram users they follow with fewer followers as more credible than Instagram users they follow with many more followers.
Although I didn’t end up collecting all my data in time to analyse it, I learnt about how one plans such a research investigation, and that it is not as straightforward as it may seem. During my preliminary research, I have also learnt about the characteristics that make influencers effective promoters and I have developed researching skills including critical analysis of journals and academic writing.
Most people do not expect coffee to be associated with reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, decrease live disease, and have potential anti cancer properties among many other health benefits. People also do not expect speciality coffees to have flavour descriptors such as "blueberry" or "passion fruit". There are also potential uses of coffee by products for weight loss remedies, natural flavouring, and anti-cancer drugs. As such coffee offers a great scope for a chemist to try and understand these mysteries.
I fundamentally chose to do this SLICC out of interest of the topic, however I also recognised this was an opportunity for personal development. Given lockdown conditions I was limited in my choices of what I could do and saw myself wasting away the days. The SLICC offered a short term project which I could do to fill my many free hours. By actively reflecting on my learning I have realised active reflection to be an effective method of assessing my own progress. I have also developed my own personal strategies for independent learning including using my bullet journal and making comprehensive notes on the topic I am reading. By questioning my mindset towards learning I have realised I am very capable of conducting my own independent reading in the future and have overall found the SLICC experience very beneficial on an academic and personal development level.
As a medical sciences student, it is important to understand reproductive health inequalities due to the poor health outcomes faced by many individuals in this health sector, mainly those in low and middle income countries. My current career aspirations consist of a Masters degree in public health after my undergraduate degree, in the hope to one day act as an epidemiologist. This research project was therefore perfect for giving me an insight into maternal, child and reproductive health as a part of a global campaign to try and improve the lives of mothers and their children, in line with the sustainable development goals for 2030. The experience was eye-opening. The sheer number of maternal deaths per year is heart-breaking, especially when I learned that approximately one quarter of them are preventable by increasing access and quality of care. Due to my future goals, global health is an area I feel extremely passionate about and I am very grateful for having had this research opportunity through both my online course and independent research. The process allowed me to develop important personal skills such as prioritisation and time management along with a better understanding of how I study best. The experience has been invaluable and something I will look back on when deciding whether a career in research is right for me.
This summer, I wanted to work on my self-confidence, self-awareness, and skills like time-management to use in my future years at university and beyond. To do this, I enrolled in a few online courses, and set out to make a pamphlet with useful tips. Having a prior interest in psychology, I decided to engage with the science of well-being, a truly current issue during the pandemic. In addition, I decided to explore the science of learning to gain a better understanding of knowledge acquisition, and valuable learning skills. Finally, as a woman in STEM and perfectionist, I decided to examine and tackle my feelings of inadequacy and fraudulence, better known as imposter syndrome. This turned into a SLICC experience after I realised just how beneficial reflecting on my learning may prove, and so it did. As my project progressed, several of my beliefs were challenged by what I learnt, ranging from how important adopting a growth mindset is, to how happy talking to a stranger on the bus can make you. Examining my study techniques, biases, and the imposter cycle I often fall into, has been eye-opening for me in realising why I work the way I do. Additionally, I learned that by being effortful and intentional, I can implement many beneficial habits to increase my well-being, and enhance my day-to-day experiences and studies. Most importantly, through both intentional and subconscious reflection activities, the SLICC experience has helped me raise my self-awareness substantially.
I decided to take on this experience as I felt I needed a head start on my 3rd year in Biomedical Sciences. Unfortunately, with COVID my actual laboratory internship was cancelled and was moved to an online bioinformatics project. This was daunting at first as I was very unfamiliar with bioinformatics and not having had classes in 3 months I did not know if I could apply myself enough. In starting the internship online, I decided I would take this opportunity to better myself in a field that I always avoided. Upon reflection, I can outline the topics I learned from this project in 2 areas. Firstly, I had a proper introduction to bioinformatics and image analysis. With my supervisor's help, I endeavoured to learn not only how to manipulate the programs, but to truly understand how they work. Secondly, I appreciated how the analysis of the data tied into the wider biological context. This fundamental understanding took a while to achieve but through communication I finally grasped the hypothesis. Through this internship I have understood the complexities of managing a project as it does not rely solely on oneself. It is a constant back and forth between people and so, communication is key. Moreover, carrying out this project “virtually” was a challenge in itself as communication was irregular due to distance. Thanks to this challenge I have however become comfortable in the professional scene.
In my SLICC programme, I am exploring the professional affairs that could indicate the potential career of an art history student, and the workplace cultures in a specific museum. This is based on my practical learning experience, which is a summer internship at Hunan Museum, China. According to my knowledge, working at a museum or a gallery as a curator is one popular choice for art history graduates. And so, the internship could provide me with a chance to have a better understanding of this job by carrying out the relevant assignments. Besides, I initially chose to take this summer internship because of my desire to practically apply my academic knowledge. In fact, I did not have the chance to guide the exhibitions because of the Covid-19, which was not anticipated. However, when assisting in several art events, I have learned how the guides deliver their speech to different types of audience and how they practically apply their academic skills. Furthermore, I could also use my existed skills to manage a significant project in person. Making slides, sorting out files, and amending articles that are going to be published all helped me know the professional affairs in this career. In addition to investigating the potential work at the museum and the relevant skills, I would explore the workplace cultures as part of my topic. This is my first experience taking an internship in the workplace. With the challenges met within this special context, I would know how to deal with some specific issues in real life, such as dealing with complex relationship and integrating into the new environment. In conclusion, I have successfully learned a lot that I hoped to learn since the start. This includes getting familiar with the professional work, experiencing the workplace cultures, and exploring communication, skills gaining, as well as engagement in a strange collective. Moreover, I also learned something that was not anticipated, for instance, gaining the extra skills of drawing illustrations with digital tools and design characters.
My SLICC project was a two-month internship in the research and development department of a mid-sized German technology company. There, I was working in a software engineering team tasked with the development/improvement of a stationary gas sensor system.
In my summer I wanted to get a more practical view on Computer Science and see what my future career might look like. My main goals were to improve my programming skills and secondly to experience a professional software engineering environment.
During my time in the company I have actively participated in developing a programming project as large as I had not worked on before. This gave me hands-on problem-solving experience as well as improving my ability to cope with a very complex software basis. My work also involved becoming familiar with standard software development tools and active review techniques to ensure the quality of the code. Working in the team also gave me the opportunity to improve my team working and communication skills. I relied upon help from my colleagues and in turn was also able to contribute my findings to some bigger problems.
Through reflecting on my work, I developed strategies for working on issues than challenged me personally as well as intellectually. For example, as the different job roles in the team became clearer to me, I started reflecting upon whether these could be future career paths for me. In the end I concluded that software engineering might not be the field that most piques my interest as it is very removed from theoretical considerations. However, I still enjoyed this internship experience very much.
I initially embarked on my SLICC to effectively utilise my unexpected free time, due to covid-19 and a national lockdown. I felt that doing a SLICC would provide an optimal opportunity to employ the skills and knowledge I am acquiring through my volunteering position (for the charity ‘SolidariTee’) with the challenge of a fully personal and independent research project into the role of legal aid in the European refugee crisis, honing in on the impact of the pandemic. Academically, I hoped to gain an eclectic insight into the contemporary refugee crisis, recognising nuances and intersectionality, while professionally I hoped that my SLICC would further stimulate my interests, aiding my volunteering role. Most importantly though, I hoped to develop skills across a plethora of areas, via self-reflection and evaluation, and aimed to master new habits of research and enquiry, developing my perception of the mindset of outlook and engagement, and employ these the future. The SLICC-process has demonstrated the importance of self-reflection, and by doing this constantly I have enhanced how I articulate this. I have learnt to compartmentalise the stages of reflection, realising the value of this for both personal growth and furthering my academic research for my topic, something that I had not anticipated from the outset. Combining the complexities of independent research with an active reflective mindset has helped me to identify areas of both strength and weakness, and provided solutions for mistakes that I can employ in future academic, personal and professional experiences.
Doing a SLICC on my experience as a Biology and Chemistry tutor helped me make the most of it by being pushed to reflect and learn as much as possible. My main aim was to improve aspects of my communication skills as I had the chance to interact with various different students while establishing a healthy tutor-student relationship. As a result, I am more empathetic towards others, and am a more confident and spontaneous communicator. In addition, I have explored my mindset towards growth and personal development, and focused on my perception of failures. This change in the way I deal with my own mistakes has already reflected into my personal life, and I am sure that I will continue to notice this change in the other activities that I will do in the future. In addition, I learnt to be more assertive while still being friendly and professional, and I understood how beneficial reflecting on my own experiences is to my learning. Moreover, having to answer my tutees' questions forced me to look at various concepts from a different angle, which in turn enhanced my understanding of the two sciences. Overall, it was definitely worth investing the time into this SLICC and into the tutoring experience I have undertaken over the summer as I have learnt a tremendous amount as a result.
My SLICC is based on my love for marketing and the hope to change the gifting market to be more sustainable. My SLICC is based on the Christmas 2020 marketing campaign for Social Stories Club Social Enterprise. The first challenge I associated with the Christmas marketing project was the conveyance of what social impact means. I used this as the base of my marketing campaign and created it around the theme of a 'Cosy Christmas'. This included taking photos, infographics, PR emails and social media posts. My aims for the project were to improve my communication, analysation, and reflective skills as it is something that I have struggled with in the past. Reflection on the project was through personal reflective blogs and the submission of my finished work. Through the project I have learnt to positively reflect on my work and not just focus on the negatives. This has changed my attitude to how I look at all my work now and has improved my confidence.