Jon is doing his PhD under the aegis of the Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) scheme; his field is ‘the use of psychology in sports training, particularly in strength and conditioning’ in the School of Health Sciences, part of the College of Health and Social Care, for whom Jon acts as Postgraduate Research student representative. Jon is also undergoing accreditation with the British Association of Sports and Exercise Scientists.
“I had always had a keen interest in research as well as the Sports Science profession; my ethos of getting the best out of every possibility transferred neatly into Sport Science. Graduating from the University of Salford in 2008 from the Applied Sport Science programme I was fortunate to be offered the opportunity to conduct PhD research paid through the Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) scheme at the University of Salford. The GTA scheme is run similar to a studentship in which your PhD tuition fees are covered and you receive a bursary in return for a teaching responsibility equating 6 hours per week. My teaching is centred on conducting seminars and lectures and supervising various lab based projects at undergraduate level within sport psychology modules.
“From my perspective, the GTA scheme is a fantastic opportunity for early career researchers or anyone with an interest in higher education teaching, an interest that I quickly developed since commencing the GTA.
“I feel extremely privileged to have teaching responsibility; what with with the excellent support from the university and the encouragement from the students, teaching is the most rewarding aspect of being at the university. Strange as it may seem, lecturing a class of 40 first years offers a welcome break from the PhD!
“As well as my teaching I am a newly appointed Post Graduate Research representative for the College of Health and Social Care. After being a post graduate representative for the School of Health, Sport and Rehabilitation Sciences [now the School of Health Sciences] for the last academic year this will be an exciting role I felt honoured to be offered. The various responsibilities centre on ensuring the postgraduate researcher get the best possible experience whilst at the University of Salford.
“Having survived the interim assessment, with its associated stress, I am currently in my 2nd year of PhD study. I am exploring the use of psychology in sports training, in particular in strength and conditioning; this is a rapidly expanding discipline with special interest groups from sports organisations highlighting the need for research.
“My research has a varied approach using a diverse set of research methods. These include the use of survey instruments in the form of electronic questionnaires distributed worldwide, semi structured interviews and various laboratory based methods, including 3D motion analysis and force production analysis. It has been a massive learning process for me – I have become adept at a diverse skill set and have encountered roadblocks at various stages, not least persuading governing bodies to allow access to over 26,000 ‘strength and conditioning’ practitioners.
“I still believe the ability to develop research methods to overcome such challenges is a crucial part of the PhD process (as frustrating as it can be at the time).
“With one eye on what to do with my PhD, and aspirations of teaching, research, and work in the field of sport psychology, I am in the process of becoming accredited as a Sport and Exercise Scientist with the British Association of Sport and Exercise Scientists.
“This involves completing a 3-year competency log of applied practice; with some juggling I am completing it concurrently with the PhD. I have been fortunate that some excellent opportunities have arisen through people I have met at university to allow me to work within professional and elite sport.
“Regarding the PhD, there are peaks and troughs, but I want to emphasise how fortunate I feel to be in the position I am in; I endeavour to get the very most out of the whole experience. I have had fantastic support from the University and would recommend any student or potential student to look for every possible opportunity as well as those provided on courses to make the very most of your time at university.”