On CampUS Student Placement with AcTo Dementia

Psychology undergraduate student Elana Moore recently completed a 100-hour placement working on the AcTo Dementia project as part of the On CampUS scheme at the University of Sheffield. In this article, Elana discusses her experience joining the research team and working on this project.

Elana Moore reviewing dementia friendly app Dots (by Playdots Inc.)

Elana Moore reviewing dementia friendly app Dots (by Playdots Inc.)

The AcTo Dementia project looks at accessible touchscreen apps for people living with dementia. My role as Research Assistant has been to work with Phil Joddrell (PhD Student running the project) to finalise the analytical framework and utilise this to identify suitable apps.
Finalising the analytical framework used to evaluate the apps was an important task. The framework needed to accurately reflect the most valued aspects of the apps in its score weighting, for example an app that is ad-free with many customisation options will score higher than those without these features. During my placement I have contributed to the evaluation of the 48-item framework through the calculation of interrater reliability scores, with statistical tests show a strong alpha value between raters.
During my time with CATCH, I evaluated a range of apps including board games, card games, puzzles, sports games and art activities. The evaluation process includes identifying 10 apps of the same nature, for example 10 ‘penalty shoot-out’ games, and scoring each of them to distinguish the best app according to our framework. The highest scoring app is then reviewed and posted online for the AcTo Dementia website. However, on occasion, apps that have been identified as the highest scoring in their genre through the framework still aren’t considered suitable for recommendation, such as those in the categories ‘air hockey’, ‘tin-can knockdown’ and ‘basketball shootout’.
Dots: A Game About Connecting by Playdots, Inc., Recommended App for People Living with Dementia
I have evaluated a wide range of apps, from classic games such as Gin Rummy, Draughts, Four In A Row and Dominoes to sports games such as Flick Kick Football. A personal favourite game identified and evaluated by myself is Dots (by Playdots, Inc.). This novel game (pictured) requires players to connect the coloured dots to make them disappear. This app was a particular favourite of mine due to the appealing modern aesthetics and unusual game play. I found the game to become quite addictive yet very simple to play. 
I have thoroughly enjoyed my time working within CATCH and on the AcTo Dementia project. I have found the experience fulfilling in the knowledge that the reviewed apps might be useful for people living with dementia. Working within a research group has also proven exciting, it has bettered my understanding of what researchers do and how passionate they are about their work. The experience has left me with a keen interest in psychological research, with the hope of being involved in this work in the future.

More information about this placement scheme can be found on the University of Sheffield's On CampUS webpage.