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Should I Study Psychology or Social Work?

Recently one of my local students, returning to studies, asked for help to decide studying psychology or social work.

The student was particularly concerned about the workload for each strand, and their ability to follow thru. They had read about the emphasis on statistics in psychology and were anxious that they would not make the grade to graduate.

I suggested that they look at some vids about each of the social sciences, and to focus on career choices. Having a better idea of your goals is a great motivator to find ways to overcome obstacles, such as making one’s way through stats subjects.

For example, as an undergraduate I was barely passing statistics in first year. I knew I had to do something! to ‘make my degree happen’. Whilst I couldn’t afford a tutor, I could make time to volunteer with a postgrad analysing the data of a lecturer’s research.

After gaining permission for a vol data entry role, I regularly spent 2-5 hours a week across the end of year break at the uni. I sat next to the postgrad to begin with and watched and discussed data entry. She was fantastic in highlighting why we do what we do in SPSS and survey design, and loaned me some of her resources so that I could learn more.

As I had been a paid research assistant in the field distributing the surveys that I was now entering the data of, statistics became relevant and interesting. By the end of the holidays I was on the payroll (the postgrad kindly took a cut in pay) and as my grades improved (mostly, there were a few steps back lol), I was given more responsibility as part of the research team.

What got me through the difficulty of stats, was the goal to complete my degree and to live an independent life with more income creation choices.

And my goal was being achieved, I was able to graduate with a Bachelor of Psychology.

Let not the challenges of the journey make the decision for you as to what is your goal. Determine a goal, even if it’s not set in stone and do your best and upmost to follow thru regardless the roadblocks that come your way.

Throughout this post are some videos I scooped from youtube showcasing differences and similarities of psychology and social work. If your also wondering which strand is for you I highly recommend you focus on your dream goal/s rather than your perceived ability to complete course content within the strand.

Learn to ‘wrestle’ with challenges.

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Want to Get Free Credit Time with #psychstatstutor?

Alrighty, for those keen to help me to market (local, national and international), download my flier below.

Print the flier, add your name (CODE: ###). I’ve included an example CODE: Wander on the flier template, simply white this out and fill in with your name and chosen Code. Next pin around your uni or college/shops or share in a post or email to classmates.

Students making use of my free Skype are potential ongoing clients. When one of them makes a booking, you get an hour credit!

That’s free credit for your psychology and statistics tutoring! Proofreading, research help, essay writing/thesis support and or exam prep…any of my services.

psychology and stats tutor flier code


Free Psychology and Statistics Homework Help

Weekday mornings from 7am +10UTC, free 10mins chat about your homework in psychology and or statistics.

skype psych stats tutor


How to Become a Critical ‘Consumer’ as a Student?

The world is rapidly changing with technological developments, social value shifts and a depleting natural environment.

As a student, it’s critical that you be aware of potential changes, as the wider community is relying on your social science skills to help them to Cope. You may find yourself drawing on your psychological literacies for yourself.

change psychology student

Photo compliments of tracyshaun (Flikr)

Life is becoming confusing/too fast from a much earlier age and across cultures. Reading/listening to online newspapers , or psychology and other social science blogs, and content driven social news and entertainment sites can provide you with living scenarios to apply models and theories or infographics.

For example,
…..– Develop your Dream Career Goals by exploring current
…. psychologist roles in the community.

…..– Discover ways to communicate complex phenomenon of the human experience.

…..– Map lecture material or assigned readings onto the lived experience. For example socio-economic differences in perception of taste.

…..Reward your curiosity as to how psychology and other social science knowledge is applied in the world.


…..Deepen your appreciation of a favoured theorist.

A common stress for the psych student is how to research for their essay. Mainstream and social media psychological news can provide a rich source of key words and phrases that can be plugged into your uni database.

The informal articles can also help you to digest peer-reviewed research on a topic. A journal article can be difficult to read even when well written or on a topic that you find really interesting. When others have published a review of the study in more layman’s terms, your understanding of that paper can be enhanced. For example , you may see strengths or weaknesses not noticed previously.

Or, just by virtue of being able to understand the study’s design better, you are now able to present a more rigorous academic critique for your assessment.

Psychological Processes in Everyday Life

Applying learnt knowledge to daily situations is a core competency of a social science student.

Keeping yourself up-to-date with the latest psychology news which is not peer-reviewed, such as newspaper articles, blog posts and social media shares, can enrich an essay, prompt a presentation idea or contribute and develop your professional profile. span>

Making connections across your subject and linking to real world situations is one of the goals on most Subject Outlines. Check yours…

You can cultivate your citizenship skills and your psychological literacy just by scoping news that is relevant to your area of growing expertise. As you develop as a psych student, you are also developing as a global member with a place in the social sphere.

Your opinions and self-concepts can deepen when you use daily living to reinforce your learnt material.

People appreciate too, when you are able to communicate with them in a way that isn’t jargon filled, boring or otherwise ‘elitist’. Reading and listening to how others deliver psychological content and findings can help you to explore different styles of interaction.

Different audiences need different information and forms of communicating that information. Exposure to how this can be accomplished is critical during the learning stages of the undergraduate.

Remember, differences and similarities across individuals are often a key factor in psychology studies.

communication types

Various communication styles

When you critique someone’s argument (critical friends) you can bring more to the table if you have read/listened/reflected on  the topic from different points of view.

You are in a much better position to notice a variable or factor that has not been considered.

Appreciation of the individual experience of Life, via non peer-reviewed material, enables you as a psych student to tap into the cultural diversity of a behaviours manifestation.

Awareness of Psychological Issues

You can read and listen to lectures ad infinitum about what a degree in psychological science can do for you as a career. However, it is when you yourself get curious and explore others shares about the discipline and its applications that links between the real world and learnt material can fuse.

Psychology on the science spectrum is located between Life Sciences and The Humanities. Reading the ‘dailies’ of your network’s shares can help you to better conceptualise why psychology is a scientific enterprise.

Each morning, part of my study ritual is to log onto LinkedIn and Twitter, my Facebook page and read (and share!) pscyh/stats news. I bookmark links to come back to later, saving them to folders on my toolbar. Email shares of interest from those in my network are also followed up.

You can develop your critical thinking skills by analysing and reflecting on non-peer reviewed content; make inferences, note outcomes, or brainstorm ways to strengthen a research design…

Ethics and the Social Sciences

It is not unusual for the general public to misinterpret psychological concepts or processes (Small & Gault, 1975; Hartwig & Delin, 2003)   Part of your ethical responsibility as a citizen with a psychology degree is to be aware that (General Principle C: Integrity; APS, 2007).

For example, stigma of mental illness is an ongoing social issue, to ignore that such stereotypical thinking exists can impair your ability to communicate effectively with people who practice stigma.

Observation, ‘experiment’ and experience (evidence-based practices) when written about from a layperson’s point of view, can be highly engaging and enlightening.

When you access a wide range of materials informing the general public about psychological interpretations, you become more aware of cultural assumptions and bias that exist ‘out there’, as well as within your own personal philosophy.

what peope think of psychologists

We are obligated as social scientists to respect and honour the social power inherent in our role as psychologists; in-training or graduated.

Everyday life in the news presents many opportunities for the psychology student to wrestle with an ethical dilemma. Wider consumption of psychological news that tap psychology in the lives of others, can help you to tease out independent and interdependent variables that hopefully results in an informed ‘best’ choice for any given situation.


I am always stoked when my news shares get re-shared, made a favourite or are commented on. This week, some of my Twitter posts and re-posts were included in @ePsyQ‘s online newspaper.

You can view the paper here; click on the grey bar on the right to scroll…

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Student Feedback on Tutoring for Nursing

I have been very fortunate to have Char as my tutor while in my last year of an online bachelor of nursing degree.

I struggled with writing assignments and Char was very quick to discover what the issues were and provided great tutoring and strategies that helped enormously.

I wished I had discovered Char a lot sooner. Char is also extremely flexible and very quick at responding to any questions or concerns.

~ T.B. Qld

nurse tutor_star


Free Stats Exam Prep: Drop-In to the Blab Video Chat!

It’s nearing the end of the academic year for some, at least in Australia.

I am getting more requests for help with stats exam prep. Thought now is a great time to host a free blab video chat focused on your stats questions.

Drop-in and tune-in to an x-zone of stats exam prep. Likely we will focus on the basics (Are You Ready for Your Intro Stats Exam ?), as these tend to be crammed into the first week of courses.

stats exam blab



Queensland Health Boards: Graduate opportunities

The JCU Alumni Team posted the following callout, encouraging graduates to consider becoming a QLD Health Board Member.

The positions include annual remuneration, and commitments are 2-4 days a fortnight for a Member (if you are also on a sub-committee then yes, more meetings ~:-)

board member graduate job

Photo compliments of woodleywonderworks (Flikr)

“Queensland Health needs people across the State, and from all walks of life, to join hospital boards and to help make Queensland a healthier place.

If you have a strong connection with your community, good strategic thinking and leadership skills, they invite you to make a positive difference in your community and  they want to hear from you.

Non-Executive Chair and Member Roles – Hospital and Health Boards

The role:

Chair or member of one of the State’s Hospital and Health Boards.

What the boards do:

Queensland has 16 Hospital and Health Services (HHSs), responsible for delivering the health services that their communities need.

Hospital and Health Boards set the strategic direction for their HHSs, and are accountable to the Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services.

What’s required:

We expect board members will be passionate about improving the social, emotional and physical wellbeing of your community. We also need you to have skills and experience in one or more of these areas:

  • Health sector management
  • Business, financial or human resource management
  • Clinical expertise
  • Health professional currently providing care or treatment to persons
  • Legal expertise
  • Primary healthcare
  • Health research or academia relevant to the operations of the HHS
  • Health consumer and community issues relevant to the operations of the HHS.

Suitably skilled candidates with an understanding of multiculturalism, women with a range of backgrounds, experiences and interests, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons and young people are encouraged to apply.

These opportunities are only open to Queensland residents.

These roles are paid in accordance with Queensland Government guidelines.


All position and application details can be downloaded from www.davidsonwp.com/boards or by contacting Elise Hooper on 07 3023 1009.

Applications must address the stipulated requirements. Generic applications will not be considered.

Applications close at midnight on Sunday 29 November 2015

The 15 HHBs include Cairns and Hinterland, Central Queensland, Central West, Children’s Health Queensland, Darling Downs, Gold Coast, Mackay, Metro North, Metro South, North West, South West, Sunshine Coast, Townsville, West Moreton and Wide Bay”



Are You Ready for Your Intro Stats Exam ?

Often I am called upon as a stats tutor to help prep for an exam. It is essential that your class materials for each lecture week be reviewed.

Across introductory statistics courses, levels of measurement (scales/types of variables), central tendency and variation will be covered.

Types of Variables

Analyzing data is a lot like cooking; you need particular ingredients (variables), tools (assumptions), and recipes (tests). Knowing how to ‘treat’ each of the 4 types of variable creates a successful bake-off.

levels of measurement_scales

Each variable is an ‘ingredient’ that requires a specific Scale to measure it.

We begin this intro to stats exam prep by focusing on variable types; also known as scales or levels of measurement.

Much debate exists about how to categorise variables, especially differentiating between nominal and ordinal measurements.

video-camera-1-64x64..Review your understanding of levels/scales

pdf….On the statistical treatment of football numbers(Lord, 1953)

pdf.A reanalysis of Lord’s statistical treatment of football numbers (Sholten & Boorsboom, 2009)

pdf….Nominal, Ordinal, Interval, and Ratio Typologies are Misleading (Velleman & Wilkinson, 1993)

pdfApplied pscyh and common errors using levels/scales

tick_markQuiz for levels of measurement

levels of measurement_variables

The Scales are not inherently better or worse than each other; they are different. Like the Four Elements, each type of variable has a set of characteristics, optimum applications and weaknesses. Photo compliments of seaternity (Flikr).

Central Tendency
One of the patterns you will be looking for in your data, and that of others, is where scores tend to be.
Central tendency can help with identifying similarities and differences between groups. How much groups differ is the realm of comparison tests which are not covered here.
music-note-8      Mean Rap
 trophy_3…..Mean Games
mean games

tick_mark      Practice Examples for central tendencies


Deviation ain’t bad, interpreting the average distance of each raw score from the mean reminds me of reading a map.

For example, I live in the regional city of Cairns, in Australia. Surrounding the city are several towns, all part of our Region.

Cairns is  the mean, and each town (a raw score) is a distance from the mean (has a deviation). The average kilometers of all the townships to Cairns is variance. A map scale (standard deviation) can be created for a map by using the square root of the variance.


video-camera-1-64x64…..Measures of Dispersion

video-camera-1-64x64……Range, variance and standard deviation

tick_mark……Review and Quiz


video-camera-1-64x64……Homogeneity of Variance

knowledge…..Covariance Properties

Introduce Stats to Your Student Life

The best way to wrap your mind around the concepts and processes of statistics, is to apply it. You get to problem-solve and self-reflect whilst in the field.

Design some data collection activities of your daily activities, a pets behaviour or that of a character on a favourite TV show.  You will need to consider what level of measurement your variables are to be able to measure them effectively.

This is the first post where I have used vectors, what did you think of them? I think they are fun ~:-) tho if they get in the way of your navigating and reading, let me know.

Feedback is also appreciated on ways to broaden and deepen this foundation topic. Please Comment below or we could take it to the Forum page.

coffee and statistics

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Care vs. Control: Why fuss over latent functions of Social Workers?

As a psychology tutor I often work with social work students. I have resurfaced some notes collated years ago, on the Care and Control Debate within the social service industry. I also sourced more up-to-date resources.

It is tensions such as these that spur continual social worker critical reflection as well as community program evaluation and development of policies and best practices.

The care and control debate in social work has been in flux for almost three decades. On the one hand is the public push for more responsibility to be taken on by staff; and on the other social staffs pointing to underestimation of client autonomy (Day, 1979; Keddell, 2013).

The ways in which people interpret each other’s behavior and reveal motivations and meanings within their communications inform best practices for social work.

The following notes are structured to discuss ‘caring’ and ‘control’ aspects of social work roles, and ways in which role conflict and ambiguity create tension in the client-worker relationship.

Implications and recommendations are developed from the literature critique.

Early 21st Century Approaches

In recent years the field of social work has made major reassessments of the nature, focus and organisation of the profession in general and of social care roles (Meager & Parton, 2004).

The step has been away from traditionally inflexible approaches of managerialism, with its distancing power relationships which are proving to be ineffectual, and many times, counterproductive to social care goals.

Attempts to ‘modernise’ social work emphasise collaboration, community and organisational partnerships, staff mentoring, inclusiveness and cross-cultural awareness.

This step in a new direction requires incorporation of the client-as-a-person in decision-making processes.


Care as a Core Belief

Of all the current Social Work values, a sense of Care for others has been paramount. Care in Action is in practice across social work roles. Care is what sets the discipline of Social Work apart from other social sciences such as Psychology and Anthropology.

To enable Care to be extended to others, space for the worker is needed to critically reflect and emotionally respond, to create and act on their own initiative, to cross-pollinate with other disciplines, the corporate world and wider community.

In turn, policies and practices must be in place, or development, to provide standardisation of communications and services, coordination of roles and tasks, and evaluation of processes that inform policy.

Care is a core need and expectation (value) of service users.

Feminist –> Constructivist Approaches

A feminist approach to the debate highlights the inherent dilemmas of caring practice, such as those of gender representations (Parton, 2002). The taking up of a Structural approach for social work dawned in the 1970s.

Multiplicity of the role of social worker was a shift in perspective and processes. A richer understanding of power relationships enables more effective programs with measurable outcomes.

Intersectionality makes conspicuous power differences based on socioeconomic status (SES), margenalisation practices and need for community models of critical activism.

For the Best Interest of Others

Part of decision making as a social worker involves making decisions for the best interest of others. It is not unusual for such decisions (control/safeguarding) to create a dilemma for the worker, as the client may not be happy with the choices made, despite the reasons for them.

Differences in perspective of a situation can create conflict that is difficult for all involved to navigate. A Twitter debate on the topic was held in 2012 by SWSMedia.

A few of the participants in the debate put forth that care and control are actually the same thing, for example, “to care is to protect and to protect is to care” (@NickBerbiers).

However, in some areas of social work, control and care are viewed as dichotomies, such as probation literature (Geiran, 2005). Skehill (1999) notes that social work has always about doing more than just helping others (cited in Gerian, 2005).

Part of the issue with necessary inclusion of control/safeguarding, is the professionalism of social work, as the professional tends to be viewed culturally as being the expert (Lyes, 2012). And a growing focus on lessening risk rather than meeting client needs and expectations, contributes to seeing control as taking over from a care role in social work.

Implications and Recommendations

Clearly, it is necessary for a social worker to take a critical stance in the field (and as an undergrad or postgrad). To do this requires knowledge of the history of social work as a discipline in the social sciences.

It is important also not to ignore that as the work of social services has become more controlling for clients, it has also become more controlling for the social workers too (McLaughlin, 2010).

It is a difficult conflict and much deserving of ongoing dialogue, debate and empirical inquiry…How to deliver care to those who perceive such actions as a form of control? (Okitikpi, 1988).

Wrestling with public assumptions of some social work practices remains an effective process to inform better practices. More conversations are needed about challenges that face in-the-field service delivery.

And conversations need to be inclusive of client perspectives and experiences, as well as yours, the social worker in training.


Buy me a Soy Cino ~




Does Your Local Uni Host Free Psychology Webinars?

As an alumni of JCU Cairns I receive email updates about events. Upcoming, are the annual Psychology Seminars which are open to like-minded others in the Cairns Region, or visiting
(I checked ~:-)


psychology seminar

Register here


How’s Your Essay Structure?

Many a time a student will send me a Draft, convinced they have nothing more to write but are lacking 1200 words or so. Fret not~

It’s likely you have enough content and need now to flesh it out, by providing evidence for your conclusions in the form of citations and examples.


Intro: apx 250 words (or 1 page)

– Broad intro sentence; look at how other papers introduce the topic?

– Define key terms; what is sleep, dreams etc. Provide all the definitions you can find (summarised). Let the Reader know which definitions will be used in your paper and why.

– Why is the topic important? Who benefits? (Why should time and money be spent researching this area?)

– Note key debates in the area and or summarise in a sentence each other literature you are going to present later in the paper (such as their aim, sample, method of inquiry and conclusions). Note gaps to date.

– Tell the reader what your critical essay will demonstrate. Then break it down by section; First ….will be discussed. Second ….yadda yadda….Finally a conclusion shall summarise the main points….

Body (apx. 1500words)

Choose 3 main aspects of your topic –> 500 words or two pages per topic
– Remember to define key terms at the start of a paragraph
– Remember to provide citations to support conclusions

– Use relevant citations as examples of your conclusions; let the Reader know about their aim, sample, method, conclusions and gaps.

Concl: apx 250 words

– Remind the Reader what your critical essay demonstrated.

– Summarise the main points of the Body

– Note limitations in the area of study and provide recommendations for future research

– What are the implications of your research?

– Remind the Reader who benefits and why we bother ~:-)

Share your essay writing tips with us…



Study Skills: Have you set the space of your place?

Create a learning environment at home to suit your study style and needs. Where you choose to camp or chill whilst you review lectures, create notes and get assessments done, has a big impact on depth of learning.

It is crucial that you create, implement and maintain a learning environment within your home. Your “study” setting, décor, organisation and time schedules, routines and rules for when you communicate with others during your study times are all a part of your learning management.


To establish an optimum learning environment tailored to your unique needs requires planning, follow through and continuous monitoring. It is not just a space for you to study; it is your physical and cognitive place for learning.

Take the time, for You! Have fun, get creative, and take a note from feng shui and other environmental resource links at the end of this article to transform your space into a personalised place of learning. Use your imagination as well as logic ~:-)


Factors to consider during set-up

• Personalise: Priority~ What decor/furnishings/set up nurtures You? Where is the best place for a vision board? Do you have your own cup/water glass? A favourite poem or photo etc.

• Temperature: Do the windows need curtains or an awning? Could a pedestal fan/radiator be of use? Consider alternatives to air conditioning/heaters~ keep things green as you can.

• Lighting: Is there enough light to read without resorting to fluorescents? Do you have a lamp for those evening shifts? Will it give enough light to read by for long periods?

• Materials: What stationery is needed to help with organisation? (e.g., coloured paper, stapler, scissors, pens and coloured pencils, folders, tacks and blue tac); What hardware is needed to support learning? (e.g., usbs, printer/scanner, web cam and mike); What software is needed to enhance your learning? (e.g., Abode, Microsoft Office, SPSS student version/full).

• Distractions: What challenges can you identify (e.g., TV in the room, fridge nearby, traffic outside, kids!; How can these be navigated/modified/eliminated; not the kids ~:-)

• Motivational climate: Have you created a vision board? Have you reflected on your reasons for being at uni? Do you have a reward system for continuous appreciation of meeting the little milestones? (e.g., listen to music, read a chapter of that novel, watch a favourite TV show, go for a run).

• Goal chart: Have you established your goals for going to uni? Taking each subject? Semester scheduling? Have you identified study skill strengths and challenges to identify gaps and how to amend them? Do you have a study schedule?


Share your creative tips in a comment below. Add me on Snapchat (psychstatstutor) and have your study space pic posted to the Facebook album. Here’s mine…


A Critical Essay Outline in Arabic

A few years ago, one of my students kindly translated my Critical Essay Outline notes into Arabic. I thought I should probably share them more ~:-)


(Click to enlarge)


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