How did I end up doing that?

My previous work: Researching how the brain processes patterns in music and language

A degree in psychology always involves a certain amount of statistics. Psychologists learn to make inferences about populations based on a sample of participants, by looking for patterns in the data which seem to be due more to an experimental manipulation than to chance. This involves mastering a number of different ways of analysing data, in line with different types of research design, and learnig to interpret these data.

During my time at university, I enjoyed applying these research techniques to the study of how the brain processes music and language. I carried out research into cross-linguistic comparisons and hidden semantic meanings for my BSc dissertation, and studied eye movements and predictions in sentence comprehension for my MSc dissertation. In my PhD, I focused on the detection and processing of incongruities in music and language, the effects of musical training on language processing, and the role of incongruities in aesthetics.

These research projects all required me to design and implement a reliable way of measuring the outcomes I was interested in, keeping up to date with published research and applying research methods according to best current practice. Throughout this time, I also learnt to communicate current developments in the field as well as my research findings to experts and non-experts through presentations and publications, and to explain statistics and research methods to a non-initiated audience through teaching at undergraduate and postgraduate level.

The main activities in this line of work can be summarised as follows: keeping up with the research, identifying gaps in the literature, designing and implementing research projects to tackle specific issues, analysing the results, communicating the outcomes clearly and teaching others to equip them with the knowledge and skills necessary to carry out good quality research.

My current work: looking for patterns in data

My work as a Psychometrician at RCSEd is about looking for patterns in exam data, interpreting these patterns and explaining them in meaningful ways to people who don't necessarily have a strong affinity for statistics so that they can act on the outcomes, having understood the implications of the analyses I have performed. I am also involved in training surgeons to apply principles of assessment design and implementation, to ensure that the methods used to measure candidates' knowledge and abilities are reliable, valid, and educationally sound.

The main activities are in fact very similar to those listed in my previous line of work: keeping up with research in the fields of education and psychometrics, identifying potential problems in assessments, designing and helping with the implementation of ways to tackle the issues identified, analysing exam datax, communicating the outcomes clearly and training examiners to equip them with the knowledge and skills necessary to produce good quality assessments.