Dr Alexander I. Griffiths

Higher Education Specialist & Psychological Scientist

Research

My research career has focused concretely on understanding the way in which we socially develop as human beings. At the centre of this approach, I have emphasised the importance of cognitive processes, with especial reference to the constructive development of memory in our social development. 


Presently my research focuses on three areas: the first is resilience and how we negotiate and grow from the challenges we face in our social environment; the second focuses on pedagogy in higher education and understanding how we can use social scientific research to improve standards and enhance student academic and social experiences; the third focuses on the architecture that supports our sense of self and social identity - namely memory.

Resilience

A key area of research focus has been on understanding how resilience and coping function in particular populations. Initially this work was developed at Cambridge University where I explored the use of faith and religion in resilience and coping processes. Research focused on examining normative theory on coping and resilience and applying it to the context of religious practice within children. Further to this, I examined the role of attachment processes and how God was considered a "supernatural" attachment figure who could compensate for primary attachment figures when parental attachment relationships were insufficient in the face of crisis. 


Since working within services that seek to support students at a Higher Education level, I have started to develop interests in exploring the nature of resilience within the university setting. Particular interests focus on the role of the university residential setting in boosting resilience, the ways in which students cope with the various crises they face both at an academic and personal level throughout the course of their studies, and examining methods through which we can promote resilient behaviours in the university setting in order to prevent students arriving at crisis point.

Pedagogy and the Student Experience

The Higher Education context within the United Kingdom has consistently evolved and expanded over the last two decades. With the advancement of technology, the introduction and consistent rise of tuition fees, and the gradual consumer culture that has developed within higher education within the UK, universities have had to evolve in not only the way in which they reach out to and interface with students, but also the way in which we deliver learning and teaching to students.

Whilst traditional teaching methods such as lectures and seminars remain a significant part of the higher education landscape in the UK, universities have focused on developing new approaches to engaging students in their learning and teaching. Our focus has become driven by placing the learner at the centre of their journey, developing within them a departure from traditional forms of student-staff engagement. I am currently working with colleagues on developing aspects of pedagogical research that address these new approaches to engagement within the sector. 

Self, Identity, and Memory

My doctoral research which is currently being developed for publication focused specifically on the representation of self and identity in memory. I have a vested interest in understanding how we represent both ourselves and others in the social context, and how we organise and utilise this information in memory.


Taking a constructivist approach in memory, I believe very strongly that memory is not simply a carbon-copy representation of our lived experiences, but rather a creative and unique place within which we manipulate information from our environment to fulfill goals and expectations. Furthermore, memory is an adaptive mechanism that allows us to navigate our social world and communicate effectively with others who we have filial or polar relations with. As such, the way in which we represent ourselves and others is grounded in memory and our exercise of it. 


Consequently, the way in which we represent our selves and others in memory is fundamental to the way in which we express and engage in intergroup relations. By understanding the way memory for social identification is organised, it is hoped we can understand further the way in which we relate our internal self to the external groups with which we associate or diametrically oppose.