Placements 2017 - Deborah Harvey

Enhancing wellbeing: Can engaging with nature in the school grounds improve children’s attention and mood?

Recent reports from conservation agencies have highlighted declines in many UK species. Alongside this, awareness is growing of deteriorating child mental health, especially during adolescence, with increasing incidence of conditions including depression and ADHD. This placement aims to explore the potential of biodiversity‐focused citizen‐science projects to tackle both issues in tandem. Encouraging children to place a greater value on nature by helping them to look after it in their own school grounds could improve not only the state of biodiversity, but also children’s psychological wellbeing. This placement will build on pilot surveys, conducted by the candidate as part of a project she has developed to measure and improve biodiversity in schools, showing improved species knowledge and appreciation of nature in participating children. The candidate will learn social science methodologies necessary to implement surveys which produce meaningful data suitable to inform policy and practice. She will use this training to assess the impact of children’s participation in her citizen‐science project on their mood and attention. The skill development and working relationships built between the candidate and Department of Psychology will support a longer‐term interdisciplinary collaboration planned to investigate further how children’s valuing biodiversity may impact their social emotional functioning.

Introduction to Placement - presentation