Alexander I. Griffiths is a Higher Education Specialist & Applied Psychologist based at the University of St Andrews, Scotland, UK. He is currently the Academic Policy Officer (Taught Degrees) in the Office of the Principal & Vice-Chancellor where he supports the work of the Vice-Principal Education (Proctor).
In this role, he is primarily responsible for the development and implementation of educational strategy and policy, as well as developing and supporting pedagogical initiatives to continuously innovate in the area of educational standards.
Alexander is also a Warden within the University's residential setting, where he is responsible for supporting students through various social and pastoral transitions.
PhD Social Psychology
University of St Andrews (2010-2014)
MPhil Social & Developmental Psychology
Darwin College, University of Cambridge (2009-2010)
MA (Hons) Psychology & Theology
University of St Andrews (2005-2009)
Educational Research Interests
The Higher Education context within the United Kingdom has consistently evolved and expanded over the last two decades. Universities have had to diversify in not only the way in which they reach out to and interface with students, but also the way in which they 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. Alexander is therefore currently working with colleagues on developing aspects of pedagogical research that address these new approaches to educational engagement within the sector.
A key area of research focus in Alexander's career has been on understanding how resilience and coping function in particular populations. Initially this work was developed at Cambridge University where Alexander explored the use of faith and religion in resilience and coping processes. Since working within services that seek to support students at a Higher Education level, Alexander has 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.
Previous Research Interests
Self, Identity, and Memory
Alexander's doctoral research under the supervision of Professor Malcolm D. MacLeod focused specifically on the development and maintenance of self and social identity in memory. His work examined Social Identity Theory (Tajfel & Turner, 1986) and Self-Categorisation Theory (Turner et al., 1987) and how our various conceptions of social identification affect the information we choose to process, store, and retrieve in memory. His work has also examined the impact of the social self on processes of retrieval inhibition in memory when applied to contexts such as gender, religion, and politics.
Psychology of Religion
Alexander's early research work has examined the role of faith and religiosity in people's lives, an interest that was developed when studying both Psychology and Theology at undergraduate level and further developed when he joined the Psychology & Religion Research Group at the University of Cambridge under the supervision of Dr Nicholas J. S. Gibson. His work in this area has examined the social and cognitive processes that contribute to a sense of faith in people's lives, the role of faith in the exercise of coping and resilience when faced with life's challenges, as well as exploring the concept of God as an archetypal supernatural attachment figure.