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Dr Helen Foster-Collins

Dr Helen Foster-Collins


 Washington Singer 121


Washington Singer Laboratories, University of Exeter, Perry Road, Prince of Wales Road, Exeter, EX4 4QG, UK


I'm an early career academic with backgrounds in professional education, psychology and philosophy, and past experience of working to support young people with additional educational needs in schools and colleges. I have experience of using both qualitative and quantitative methods, and am fascinated by research which crosses boundaries of methodology, discipline or professional field. Currently a Lecturer in the Department of Psychology, I contribute to the delivery of teaching and supervision of student research projects, for undergraduate, masters and doctoral programmes.

My most recent research looked at the benefits of community gardening initiatives for people with dementia and practical factors affecting their success, with the view to producing a set of guidelines for similar projects in the future.

Recent research has included: understanding the barriers and enablers to translating research findings into practice, in the context of improving prescribing in clinical settings. Also, exploring workplace support for newly-qualified doctors and teachers during their first year of practice.

qualitative research; mixed methods; nature and wellbeing; gender and sexuality; professional education; social and organisational psychology; environmental psychology; translating research into practice.


2016-2020  PhD Education  University of Exeter

2017-2019  LTHE ASPIRE/HEA Associate Fellowship & Level 7  University of Exeter

2014-2016  MSc Psychological Research Methods(Distinction)  University of Exeter

2008-2014  BSc Psychology Hons(First class)  The Open University

Jan-Dec 12 NVQ L2:Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools  Petroc College

1991-1993  BA Philosophy Hons(2:1)  Lancaster University


Research group links

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Research projects

My most recent research, as a Postdoctoral Research Associate with the College of Medicine and Health, aimed to enhance the quality of life of people living with dementia by optimising the design and implementation of community-based gardening initiatives (CBGIs) for people with dementia. This work was conducted in partnership with Age UK Exeter, Innovations in Dementia, a horticultural practitioner and also people affected by dementia themselves. This data is being used to produce an evidence base, resources and guidelines to support development of CBGIs in future. The project was supported by an ESRC Impact Acceleration Account.

Previously, I have coordinated a collaborative multi-stakeholder project on Optimising Prescribing. Supported by ESRC Impact Acceleration funding, this project aims to improve understanding of the barriers and enablers to implementing educational prescribing interventions in clinical settings and produce a practical 'toolkit' of resources for clinical practitioners and policy makers.

My PhD research, undertaken within the Centre for Research in Professional Learning, explored the support which newly qualified doctors and teachers receive during their first year of practice. This comparative study was undertaken with supervision from Karen Mattick and Vivienne Baumfield, bringing together the fields of medical education, teacher education and workplace learning, to aid transitions for early career professionals. I have also undertaken course and service evaluations, for the perinatal clinical psychology training programme at CEDAR, and for SOFT UK.

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Journal articles

Foster-Collins H, Calitri R, Tarrant M, Orr N, Whear R, Lamont RA (2024). ‘I can still swing a spade’: a qualitative exploratory study of gardening groups for people with dementia. Ageing and Society, 1-27. Abstract.
Foster‐Collins H, Mattick K, Baumfield V (2023). Workplace support for newly qualified doctors and secondary school teachers: a comparative analysis. British Educational Research Journal, 49(5), 1005-1043. Abstract.
Foster-Collins H, Conn R, Dornan T, Lloyd M, Mattick K (2021). The problem with feedback. MedEdPublish, 10(1).


Foster-Collins H (2019). A report of experiences and feedback from parents and carers. SOFT UK, Abstract.

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As a Lecturer in the Department of Psychology, I contribute to the delivery of teaching on the following modules:

  • (PSY2216) Qualitative Methods And Interview Skills
  • (PSY2205) Personality and Individual Differences
  • (PSY3401) Psychology Research Project
  • (PSY3455) Environmental Psychology
  • (PSYM202) Behavioural Science Research Skills
  • (PSYM210) Research Apprenticeship
  • (PSYM220) Research Project

I also supervise undergraduate and masters student research projects, in the areas of gender and sexuality, and environmental psychology, and independent research topics which employ qualitative research methods.



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