As a leading UK psychometric test publisher, PCL recognises the value of prioritising research. This ethos not only helps us develop and validate our psychometrics but enables us to continually generate content that informs best practice.
Collaborating with national and international universities is an important element of our research strategy. It helps us build important networks in the research industry and introduces us to new methods and topics. This approach has led to a long list of fruitful knowledge-sharing relationships with leading academics.
In recent years, a significant element of our university collaboration strategy has taken the form of the PCL ‘Student Sponsorship Programme’. The SSP has enabled PCL to collaborate with dozens of students, and this year, we welcomed its largest intake yet!
A cornerstone of the SSP is the ‘Professional Skills Event’. This event has been held on location at PCL’s office in Tunbridge Wells, but 2020 saw it shift to 100% online. As with previous years, it was a jam-packed day filled with a diverse array of content delivered by a range of presenters.
The day began by welcoming students over coffee, before PCL CEO Geoff Trickey formally launched the event by discussing how PCL has played a key role in personality assessment development in the UK since it was founded in 1992.
After exploring the history of the company, the session moved to one of the key assessments published by PCL – the Risk Type Compass. This gave students the chance to see how the RTC grew from the demand to better understand risk-taking characteristics and how they manifest in our behaviour and decision making. The content of the session covered the RTC’s theoretical underpinnings and its subsequent use in a range of industries, which acted as valuable context for students to view their own reports. The session concluded by showing a team report graphic incorporating all the students from the 2020 SSP cohort.
The second session of the day was hosted by PCL’s Marketing and Business Development Manager Anna Pettinger. A topic often overlooked by MSc courses, Anna discussed best practice for how students could build networks, promote their research and engage with the industry. This not only has significant and ongoing benefits to their professional standing but can help them understand how promotion can improve participant recruitment and publicly disseminate results to those who would benefit from them the most.
After a short break, the professional skills event resumed with Junior Consultant Psychologist Preeya Patel’s session on Profile:Match2. Guiding the students from PM2’s theoretical underpinnings through to it various report iterations, Preeya provided the students with valuable insight into assessment functionality and how it aligns with the academic literature on personality. This session was particularly important given many would be incorporating PM2 into their research designs.
After lunch, the day continued with PCL Chief Psychologist Gillian Hyde’s presentation on consultancy. This session gave the SSP students a valuable insight into the world of consulting and the various ups and downs practitioners can expect to encounter. This not only provided them with information relevant to their post-MSc employability, but also helped them consider how their research project could be enhanced by incorporating methods and mindsets more commonly applied in consultancy.
Gillian’s session also helped emphasise the important role a dissertation could play. Occupational Psychology MSc courses are broadly standardised by British Psychology Society guidelines on content and format. This means dissertations can serve two key additional functions for students: (1) to illustrate their unique disciplinary interests, and (2) to showcase their skills and knowledge to potential future employers. The latter is a key justification for Gillian’s session on consultancy; encouraging students to also think like a practitioner can be hugely advantageous to their next career step.
The event concluded with a session on PCL research delivered by PCL’s Principal Research Psychologist – Dr Simon Toms. This session built on the various elements of the previous assessment-specific sessions by exploring how they have been used by PCL and its associates in a wide range of research applications. In addition to the interesting insight drawn from these projects, this offers an opportunity for students to better understand the lessons learned and obstacles encountered by previous researchers, many of whom took part in former SSP cohorts.
The Professional Skills Event provides a great opportunity for PCL to engage with the successful applicants of the SSP, but the interaction doesn’t stop there! PCL provides ongoing support to students that extends from the identification of research goals through to the public dissemination of research findings and beyond.
If this cohort replicates the success experienced by previous SSP students, 2021 is set to be another exciting bumper year for PCL research, so make sure you stay tuned!