ECR Dragon’s Den People’s Choice winner Su Morris: “Our work will provide insight into young people’s perspectives”
Posted on behalf of: Internal Communications
Last updated: Thursday, 26 October 2023
The inaugural Early Career Researchers Dragons’ Den competition in July saw researchers from across the University pitch their ideas, with seven finalists bidding for funds to support their research. Su Morris, Research Fellow in the School of Psychology, took the People’s Choice Award with Amanda Ferrell, Research Assistant, and they won £1,500. Their pitch was for a large-scale survey aimed at identifying opportunities to improve personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education, which will set the groundwork for Amanda’s PhD project.
Tell us a little about your research
My research in cognitive and developmental psychology relates primarily to children’s learning. My previous work has examined factors relating to maths and science achievement in primary school children, and in my current project I am exploring associations between empathy and reading fiction. I am excited to be working with Amanda on the Life Skills survey, as I think it’s important to ensure young people are well-informed and confident in using these skills as they become independent young adults.
What impact do you hope your research will have?
We hope that the Life Skills survey, and the more in-depth Life Skills interviews, will provide valuable information on young people’s views about the PSHE education they received in school. This foundational understanding may help us identify strengths and opportunities for improvement in the way schools deliver the curriculum, so in the future, we can maximise the effectiveness of PSHE. This could be particularly important for young people who may not have ready access to parents or informed adults, and therefore rely more heavily on their school input.
What is your favourite thing about being at Sussex?
Sussex has a lovely setting. I enjoyed the boundary walk/run earlier this year which showcased how quickly you can be in the countryside. My favourite place to meet over the summer was probably the new Student Centre, which was also where the Dragon’s Den event took place.
What do you do away from your research?
I enjoy spending time outdoors; either in the garden, at Ashdown Forest, or at the coast. I enjoy walking and taking photos when I’m out and about. I also enjoy reading, watching TV (especially comedies and cricket), and going to the theatre.
What’s next for you, in your work or otherwise?
Over the next few months, I will be busy with the second part of the longitudinal study looking at empathy and reading fiction. I’ll be revisiting the schools to repeat the activities so we can begin to get an understanding of how empathy, reading comprehension, and leisure reading habits relate to each other over time. We’re excited to be able to share our early findings in a forthcoming conference called ‘Educating for Empathy – the reading factor’, which is the first conference focusing solely on reading and empathy.
Amanda and I will also be busy with the Life Skills project; refining the survey, recruiting participants, and inviting people to take part in the interviews. We’re very grateful to everyone who helped us win the People’s Choice award at the Dragon’s Den event – we hope our work will provide important and useful insight into young people’s perspectives on their PSHE education.