In our latest post, we caught up with CUROP 2018 graduates Sioned Murphy and Math Emyr. They told us all about their experience on the University’s student research initiative and how their involvement gave them a unique insight into the National Eisteddfod of Wales.
JR: Hello both, so nice to meet you. I wonder if you can start by telling me your names and what you’re studying here at Cardiff Business School?
ME: Shwmae! My name’s Math Emyr and I’m in my third and final year studying Accounting (BSc).
SM: Helo. I’m Sioned Murphy and I’m in my second year studying Business Management with an Integrated Work Placement (BSc).
We’re both students here in Cardiff Business School and last summer we took part in the Cardiff Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme (CUROP) with Drs Nicole Koenig-Lewis and Eleri Rosier from our School and Dr Andrea Collins from the School of Geography and Planning.
ME: Our project was on the impacts and legacies of festivals in Wales. And with the National Eisteddfod (NEoW) taking place in Cardiff for the first time since 2008, we used the annual festival of competitions and performances as a case study.
JR: Great to meet you both. So, you’ve mentioned the University’s CUROP Scheme. Why did you take part in this particular project?
SM: Well, I think we were both looking to gain work experience in academia and we came across an advert for the 8-week project on the Student Intranet.
The ad said Nicole, Eleri and Andrea were looking for two students to assist with ongoing festivals research, one with a Buiness Management background and, as it would focus on NEoW, one fluent in Welsh.
ME: The Welsh bit is where I come in. I’ve always been a hardcore NEoW attendee, having gone to the events since I was a baby. Growing up in wales, I’ve enjoyed the fun-packed week of concerts, exploring the stalls and soaking in the festival atmosphere with friends and family.
So, taking part in the project meant a summer job where I could put my Welsh language skills to use. It also meant that I’d be attending my 21st National Eisteddfod.
The two things combined made it an unmissable opportunity!
JR: And how about you Sioned?
SM: Well, I’d been studying Marketing on my course and so was excited about the prospect of conducting research into visitor experience and gaining an insight into how marketers go about their field work.
Also, after my Grandad, who was a Welsh speaker, passed away last March, I wanted to learn more about my heritage and the language I missed hearing on family visits to Swansea.
JR: Wow, it sounds like you were the ideal candidates for this project! I wonder if you can tell us a bit more about the research?
SM: We conducted research into the festival and explored the data findings collected from a visitor survey in 2017 to prepare for the 2018 research. The survey asked a range of questions about visitors’ satisfaction with the organisation and experience of the National Eisteddfod and how people travelled to and during the festival.
ME: It was an exciting research stage because 2018 marked an experimental year for the festival which was held in the urban setting of Cardiff Bay contrasting from the traditional field settings.
The purpose behind the 2018 survey was to see whether a contextual change impacted the experience of all visitor groups including first-time and frequent visitors, fluent Welsh speakers, Welsh learners and non-Welsh speakers.
SM: The NEoW management were also curious to find out whether visitors were encouraged to use more sustainable travel for the festival by using public transport.
In the previous year, 90.5% travelled by car, campervan or taxi to Anglesey.
So, during the festival we held a stall at the Cardiff University Pavilion. The sun was out which was a bonus as it attracted a heavy footfall of visitors, whose length of stay was 3.7 days on average.
ME: We displayed labelled transport boxes and provided counters for visitors to show us how they travelled to the festival.
The online survey confirmed, that car usage to the festival fell dramatically to 47%. It was even more encouraging to see the popular use of train and bus services to the festival (39%).
Visitors also showed us where they’d come from by placing a pin on our map. We were amazed to see the broad geographic demographic of visitors, which ranged from Mountain Ash and Anglesey in Wales, to Sterling in Scotland, to Iran, the US, most parts of Western and Eastern Europe to Fiji across the other side of the world!
SM: Yeah, the visual aids really created a buzz among our stall visitors. And that meant that we generated a lot of interest in our research project. We had over 800 respondents take part in our online survey following their visit, 684 of which we used for our research analysis.
JR: What do you think you got out of the experience?
SM: Overall, I think the project was great for developing our analytical, written and presentation skills. Once completed, we presented our results to the senior Management of the National Eisteddfod and at the CUROP Poster event in City Hall in October.
These skills have proven to be really transferable as I have been graded in my second year on conducting research in two of my modules and presenting my findings to a group of people. This time last year, the prospect of presenting to people was a daunting one but I firmly believe my confidence with public speaking has grown as a result of the CUROP experience and it’s now something I thoroughly enjoy.
ME: I couldn’t agree more with Sioned. The experience also taught me how researchers forge links with media outlets and organisations external to academic spheres. For me this has been a really important insight as it has shown us that academia is something that is inclusive of all people whether they are involved with the research front, they spread the word of the project or participate by sharing their views. Raising the profile of our work was made more fun by speaking to the media and it was made more special by being able to apply my Welsh language skills in a work setting.
SM: I think Math became a local legend as he was interviewed by BBC Radio Cymru, S4C and the NEoW media. Visitors were coming to the stall because they had heard and seen Math on the radio and TV! I was delighted to also get involved with an interview for a Scandinavian broadcast company and reach out to a wider audience to share the purpose behind our project and the importance of celebrating cultural events like this.
JR: And what did the NEoW Management think of your work?
SM: They were encouraged that our findings reported 96.8% of respondents attended to ‘enjoy and support the Welsh culture’, with 85.5% agreeing/strongly agreeing that they enjoyed ‘the unique cultural and educational experience’.
ME: This year’s model proved popular with an astounding 93.7% and 94.3% of our respondents reporting feeling satisfied/very satisfied with the Eisteddfod overall and the atmosphere.
Comments included “A great atmosphere.” “Plenty to see and do.” “Lovely weather” and “Lovely to hear Welsh language at all levels”.
The most popular reported memories of the event were the atmosphere and live performances in the Maes, the food and drink, and the crowd singing on the Senedd steps with Geraint Thomas!
SM: Another great result was in relation to travel. Intended to actual travel emissions fell by an incredible 18.3% due to more visitors using sustainable means of transport compared to their intentions stated in the previous year.
We even had visitors who visited the store on consecutive days coming back to the stall to tell us they had been encouraged to switch to more environmentally friendly transport to travel to the event from their place of stay. I even encouraged my family to walk and take a water taxi!
JR: So what’s next for you both?
ME: Well, my final year of studies is occupying a lot of my time at the moment, but alongside that I’ve managed to continue attending music and Welsh-Speaking events in Cardiff.
Plus, I’ve already planned my stay for the NEoW 2019. That’ll take my tally up to 22 years!
SE: Well, the Integrated Work Placement part of my degree has given me a chance to develop my professional skills further. For the last 16 weeks, I’ve been on a Robotics internship with the international packaging company, DS Smith building a virtual robot.
I’m keen to attend another National Eisteddfod in the future to experience a new setting and practise my new stock of Welsh phrases!
SM: We’d like to say a massive thank you to Nicole, Eleri and Andrea for all their continued support and for giving us this wonderful and unique research opportunity.
ME: Yeah, absolutely. And, to anyone thinking of applying to CUROP this summer, we couldn’t recommend it enough!
The Cardiff Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme (CUROP) and Cardiff University Student Education Innovation Projects (CUSEIP) schemes offer students a paid opportunity to spend up to eight weeks working with staff on projects.
Students get paid £9.36 an hour for up to 25 hours per week (total project hours 200).
The projects provide unique development opportunities for students to sample live research or learning and teaching to enhance their academic and transferable skills and make a more informed decision on furthering their research at postgraduate level.