SCIO is delighted by the news that Michaelmas 2017/Hilary 2018 alumna, Carolyn Richards, has been selected for a prestigious summer internship as a research assistant at the Gopnik Cognitive Development Laboratory at UC Berkeley.

Expanding on her role in the laboratory, Carolyn writes: ‘During the internship, I will be working under a postdoctoral researcher on several experiments that are at different stages but that all focus on children’s cognitive development. The general focus of the lab is on how children develop cause and effect reasoning and how they learn from and about other people.’ Concerning her personal motivations and the learning opportunities that the internship will provide, she continues: ‘I am looking forward to getting experience with different stages of the research process, such as experimental design and data collection. I am excited to learn more about how children understand the world.’

As she reflects upon her time here in Oxford, Carolyn describes the past year as ‘an important step in learning how to learn, developing self-discipline, and discovering what is involved in academic life.’ All participants in the SCIO Scholars’ Semester in Oxford (SSO) programme are introduced to the Oxford tutorial system, which forms the central pillar of the University’s learning experience. It is a testament to the value of the tutorial system, and to the close working relationship developed between tutor and student, as the suggestion to apply for the internship was itself supplied by Dr Emily Burdett, Carolyn’s psychology tutor at SCIO. Dr Burdett notes that:

Carolyn was an excellent student. She was my student for the course Language and Cognition, and she has also been an RA for me, working on coding videos of children for a project looking at how children ask questions when they are learning and exploring. Carolyn draws on a wide range of background knowledge to inform her essays and tutorials, and she is very driven. I was so pleased she asked to be an RA and to help with my research, as well as asking for recommendations for other opportunities. Research assistantships are such a good idea if anyone is thinking of graduate school. They allow students to see the research process, gain invaluable experience, and in the case of Carolyn, she’ll be learning from one of the top experts in the field. This is such an amazing opportunity for her, and I am really proud of her that she was given a place at Berkeley this summer.

Reflecting further on her Oxford experience, Carolyn concludes:

My tutors challenged and inspired me to do my best, and I am grateful to be taking the lessons I learned from them on to my internship this summer. For students considering or just beginning the SCIO SSO programme, take a deep breath and know that you can do this. The programme is not easy. You will have to accept failure and spend many late nights researching and writing, but in return, your mind will be opened in ways you never imagined. The tutorial experience is invaluable, and the memories you make in Oxford will be worth the struggle. Enjoy the time you have in Oxford, and remember that life will go on when you return home. The future is full of possibilities!