Learning was child's play for psychology graduate Emma

Emma Craig

Emma Craig, who graduates today (Tuesday, 09 July) with a first-class degree in psychology, investigated language development in children with developmental psychologist Dr Jessica Horst in the WORD Lab.

Emma’s final-year project involved testing 30-month-old toddlers by showing them a group of different objects of the same colour, asking them to identify one of the objects and then testing again with a new set of objects to see if they had learned to associate one particular object with its name.

Emma’s project showed that children learn names for objects better when they see objects together in the same colour and are also better able to extend the name to new examples of the same object.

Emma, 22, from Crays Pond, Berkshire, says: “I loved working in the WORD Lab because you can see children learning right in front of you. I also love the fact that at Sussex our lecturers are researchers in their various fields, which means they have a genuine interest in what they are teaching you about. Getting to be part of that research process in my third year project was especially cool and I feel really lucky that I got to work with a respected author in the field of developmental psychology.”

Emma, who is the first member of her family to go to university, also managed to win a place studying for a term at the State University of New York. Emma says: “I was absolutely terrified. It was like having all the normal ‘starting university’ worries, but knowing I was going to be 4000 miles away from home. When I landed there was an earthquake, but it all turned out well and it was the best experience of my life so far.”

In the long term Emma is looking to follow a career in psychology or mental health care, but is planning first to complete a volunteer placement working with tsunami victims and with children with disabilities in Sri Lanka.

Dr Horst sees a bright future ahead for Emma. “She is a very talented student and I enjoyed working with her on her research project. I know Emma has learned a lot during her time at Sussex and studying abroad. It will be exciting to see how she goes out and uses these skills after she graduates.”


Emma’s parents David and Nicky, brother Jack, aunt Jane, uncle Barry and best friend Jess will be cheering her on at the ceremony. Emma says: “Whenever I have struggled with my workload or exams my main motivation to get through has been making my family proud, so I hope graduation will be the opportunity to do just that!”

By: Jacqui Bealing
Last updated: Tuesday, 2 July 2013