I graduated with an Honours degree in Psychology from the University of Aberdeen, which spurred me on to consider further study in psychology. I was awarded a competitive SERC (now EPSRC) studentship to carry out my PhD research on the acquisition of complex skills in the Psychology Department at the University of Aberdeen. Whilst in Aberdeen, I co-founded a small consultancy company and carried out work in the oil industry, which included a fascinating stint on an oil platform in the North Sea. I also re-learned how to roller skate and then moved to Cambridge with my two cats, two goldfish and my ancient Landrover.
I took up a postdoctoral position at the MRC Applied Psychology Unit in Cambridge (now the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit), working with Phil Barnard on approximate modelling of cognitive activity. Much of this research focused on the construction of user models as part of the AMODEUS (Approximate Modelling of Designers, Users and Systems) ESPRIT project. I took two months off and went on a round the world trip. Following that, I took up a senior research post at the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (now Cambridge Assessment). Within a year, I had established and was directing the Cognitive Psychometrics Section in the Research and Evaluation Division. I was a key member of the team that developed the 'Thinking Skills Assessment' or TSA, now widely used as a university entrance examination. I also led research projects that used verbal protocol analysis to examine marker strategies, wrote a book on verbal protocol analysis in language testing research and started a family.
I left UCLES to go back into research, and accepted a lectureship in Psychology in the Department of Human Sciences at Brunel University, where I developed the MSc in Applied Psychology and was the Director of Graduate Studies for the Department of Human Sciences. In my spare time, I built an aviary and bred kakarikis and zebra finches.
After joining the OU, I became involved in our taught postgraduate programme and chaired production of two dissertation modules. I was a member of the DD303 Cognitive Psychology team and for seven years I co-directed the DD303 ALE. I then became the Psychology Programme Director, and led the team that developed the new undergraduate Psychology programme. I am currently the Associate Dean (Curriculum & Qualifications) in Social Sciences, and have most recently been leading the development of our new taught postgraduate programme, which we launch later in 2016.