Dr Sam Cooley PhD

Dr Sam Cooley

School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences
Research Fellow

Contact details

Address
School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston
Birmingham
B15 2TT
UK

Sam’s research interests are within the fields of sport and exercise psychology, positive youth development, outdoor adventure education, experiential learning, pedagogy and life skills. His research is typically conducted in an applied setting, from a pragmatist, action research stand point. Sam’s current role as a ‘pracademic’ involves the development, delivery and evaluation of a life skills programme for disadvantaged youth.

Qualifications

PhD (University of Birmingham, UK)

BSc in Sport and Exercise Sciences (University of Birmingham, UK)

Biography

Sam’s interest in sport psychology began during his time as an athlete, coach and swimming teacher. This interest led him to complete an Access Course to Higher Education, before graduating in 2011 with a first class BSc in Sport and Exercise Sciences. As an undergraduate student, Sam spent time as research intern, produced a number of academic publications and was awarded for academic achievement, extra-curricular activity, and contribution to his school.

Sam’s passion for outdoor adventure activities, and time spent in high schools mentoring disadvantaged youth, broadened his academic interests to include how sport and recreational experiences can benefit other areas of life. Later in 2011, Sam pursued this interest through a scholarship funded PhD that focused on the use of outdoor pursuit courses in developing transferable groupwork skills in students.

Sam’s doctoral work increased his knowledge of how life skills are developed through holistic, group-based and challenging activities, and the processes behind learning transfer. In 2014, Sam applied this knowledge to his new position as Research Fellow. In collaboration with the youth homeless charity, St Basils, Sam helped to develop an innovative, 10-week mental skills training programme. He is currently responsible for delivering the programme to over 100 youths each year, along with conducting on-going research to evaluate the programme’s impact and guide programme development.

Teaching

Sam has experience in teaching undergraduate students through lab practical classes, SPSS statistics courses, lecturing, and in the co-supervision of undergraduate and post-graduate dissertation students.

Through his involvement in the Birmingham Evaluating Skills transfer (BEST) project, Sam has also conducted extensive research into teaching and learning, which has received funding from the Higher Education Academy, the Centre for Learning and Academic Development (CLAD), and the College of life and Environmental Sciences. This research has included investigating how student development, integration and employability can benefit from experiential learning, extra curricular activities and outdoor adventure experiences.

In conducting this research, Sam has helped develop novel tools and approaches to evaluating learning experiences, such as the semi-structured video diary room (Cooley et al., 2014) and the groupwork skills questionnaire (Cumming et al., 2014). He has also developed an empirical model for optimising learning and transfer (MOLT; Cooley et al., 2015). 

Research

Research Interests

  • Life skills, experiential learning and outdoor adventure education
  • Positive youth development
  • Student development in higher education
  • Mental imagery in sport and exercise
  • Research methodology and systematic literature reviewing

Sam’s research to date has spanned several areas. His research in positive youth development has seen him co-develop and lead on the delivery of a 10-week mental skills training programme for disadvantaged youth. This programme is informed by sport psychology and psychological models such as positive psychology and strengths-based cognitive behavioural therapy. It promotes the self-discovery and development of mental skills in areas such as self-regulation, interpersonal skills, organisation, utilising social support, problem solving, and coping under pressure. Research into the programme has revealed improvements to self-worth, resilience, well-being, and re-engagement with education, employment and training.

Other areas of Sam’s research include outdoor learning; in particular, investigating how transferable life skills are developed within the natural environment and the personal and environmental factors that influence development and transfer to other life settings such as education and employment.  Sam is also interested in mental imagery and its use in sport and exercise settings to manage thoughts and improve performance. 

Sam also collaborates with colleagues outside of the University of Birmingham on a range of projects. He works with colleagues at Newman University in his work in positive youth development, at the University of Northampton to investigate psychological growth following experiences in extreme environments, and at the University of Warwick looking at youth development through Tall Ship sailing voyages. He is interested in connecting with other professionals to conduct high impact research.

Research identifiers

  • ORCID ID: orcid.org/0000-0002-0804-9664
  • Researcher ID: O-9055-2015

Sam’s research publications can be accessed via ResearchGate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Sam_Cooley

Other activities

  • Sam is a regular guest peer reviewer for journals in psychology, education and outdoor learning.
  • After receiving a business enterprise grant, Sam is the co-founder of a software development company that provides novel tools and applications for conducting research and evaluations.  

Publications

Journal articles

In press or under review

Burns, V. E., Cumming, J., Stewart, E., & Cooley, S. J. (under review). Uncovering what works and why: Using systematic qualitative models to evaluate a cultural integration programme for UK and Chinese university students.

Cooley, S. J., Burns, V. E., & Cumming, J. (under review). Using outdoor adventure education to develop transferable skills in higher education: A quantitative evaluation of reaction and learning.

Smith, N., Kinnafick, F.-E., Cooley, S. J., & Sandal, G. M. (under review). Reported growth following mountaineering expeditions: The role of personality and perceived stress.

2015

Cooley, S. J., Burns, V. E., & Cumming, J. (2015). The role of outdoor education in facilitating groupwork in higher education. Higher Education, 69, 567-582.  doi:10.1007/s10734-014-9791-4

Cooley, S. J., Cumming, J., Holland, M. J. G., & Burns, V. E. (2015). Developing the Model for Optimal Learning and Transfer (MOLT) following an evaluation of outdoor groupwork skills programmes. The European Journal of Training and Development, 39, 105-121.  doi:10.1108/EJTD-06-2014-0046

Cumming, J., Woodcock, C., Cooley, S. J., Holland, M. J. G., & Burns, V. E. (2015). Development and validation of the groupwork skills questionnaire (GSQ) for higher education. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 40, 988-1001. doi:10.1080/02602938.2014.957642

Weibull, F., Cumming, J., Cooley, S. J., Williams, S. E., & Burns, V. E. (2015). Walk this way: A brief exercise imagery intervention increases barrier self-efficacy in women. Current Psychology, 34, 477-490. doi:10.1007/s12144-014-9271-0

2014

Cooley, S. J., Holland, M. J. G., Cumming, J., Novakovic, E. G., & Burns, V. E. (2014). Introducing the use of a semi-structured video diary room to investigate students’ learning experiences during an outdoor adventure education groupwork skills course. Higher Education, 67, 105-121.  doi:10.1007/s10734-013-9645-5 

2013

Cooley, S. J., Williams, S. E., Burns, V. E., & Cumming, J. (2013). Methodological variations in sport based, guided imagery interventions using movement imagery scripts: A systematic review.  Journal of Imagery Research in Sport and Physical Activity, 8, 1-22. doi:10.1515/jirspa-2012-0005

Hurley, R. V. C., Patterson, T. G., & Cooley, S. J. (2013). Meditation-based interventions for family caregivers of people with dementia: a review of the empirical literature. Aging & Mental Health, 18, 281-288. doi:10.1080/13607863.2013.837145 

Williams, S. E., Cooley, S. J., Newell, E., Weibull, F., & Cumming, J. (2013). Seeing the difference: Developing effective imagery scripts for athletes. Journal of Sport Psychology in Action, 4, 109-121.  doi:10.1080/21520704.2013.781560

Williams, S. E., Cooley, S. J., & Cumming, J. (2013). Layered Stimulus Response Training Improves Motor Imagery Ability and Movement Execution. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 35, 60-71.

Selected published reports

Cooley, S. J., Holland, M. J. G., Quinton, M., Parry, B., & Cumming, J. (2015). Mental skills training for life at St Basils: Year 1 report. Birmingham, UK: Authors. 

Cooley, S. J., Holland, M. J. G., Quinton, M. L., Burns, V. E., & Cumming, J. (2014). Mental skills training in young people living at St Basils: An evaluation and recommendations following a pilot programme. Birmingham, UK: Authors.

Burns, V. E., Cumming, J., Cooley, S. J., & Holland, M. J. G. (2012). Developing skills for successful international groupwork.  Report published by the Higher Education Academy: Connections Scheme.

Cumming, J., Burns, V. E., Cooley, S. J., & Holland, M. J. G. (2012). Messing about on the river: Evaluating the transfer of skills developed in the outdoors into academia and employment.  Report published by the Higher Education Academy: Teaching Development Grant Scheme.

Selected conference presentations and published abstracts

2015

Cooley, S. J. & Quinton, M. L. (2015, November). Mental skills training for life: A look back on Year 1. Report presented at the meeting of the St Basil’s Youth Achievement Awards 2015: Shared Journeys. Birmingham, UK. 

Cumming, J., Cooley, S. J., Holland, M. J. G., Quinton, M. L., & Burns, V. E. (2015, July). It brought my confidence back: Exploring the feasibility of a mental skills training programme for homeless young people. Paper presented at the meeting of the 14th European Congress of Sport Psychology, Bern, Switzerland.

Smith, N., Kinnafick, F.-E., Cooley, S. J., & Sandal, G. M (2015, December). Examining expedition characteristics and personal factors related to post-return growth. Paper presented at the meeting of the British Psychology Society, Department of Sport and Exercise Psychology, Leeds, UK. 

2014

Cooley, S. J., Cumming, J., & Burns, V. E. (2014, September). Using evaluations to evolve training programs. In J. Cumming (Chair), From planning to evaluation: The application of qualitative methods for improving the impact of training programs.  Symposium conducted at the meeting of the 4th International Conference for Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise, Loughborough University, UK.

Cooley, S. J., Cumming, J., Holland, M. J. G., & Burns, V. E. (2014, September). “I’m a student get me out of here” – Reflecting ‘in action’ with a video diary room.  In J. Cumming (Chair), From planning to evaluation: The application of qualitative methods for improving the impact of training programs.  Symposium conducted at the meeting of the 4th International Conference for Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise, Loughborough University, UK.

Cumming, J., Holland, M. J. G., Cooley, S. J., Quinton, M., & Burns, V. E. (2014, September).  From planning to follow-up: The application of qualitative methods for evaluating different phases of training programs. In J. Cumming (Chair), From planning to evaluation: The application of qualitative methods for improving the impact of training programs. Symposium conducted at the meeting of the 4th International Conference for Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise, Loughborough University, UK.

Gunnell, D. O. A., Hirst, C. J., & Cooley, S. J. (2014, November). I'm an international exchange trainee, ‘Don’t Get Me Out of Here’! Developing multicultural groupwork skills and attitudes aboard a tall ship. Paper presented at the meeting of the International Sail Training and Tall Ships Conference 2014, A Coruña, Spain.

2013

Burns, V. E., & Cooley, S. J. (2013, March). Developing skills for successful international groupwork. Paper presented at the meeting of the Higher Education Academy, Internationalisation in HE: Making Connections, London.

Cooley, S. J., Cumming, J., Holland, M. J. G., & Burns, V. E. (2013, November). A novel methodological approach to course evaluation: Introducing the use of a semi-structured video diary room to capture students’ experiences whilst immersed in outdoor education. Paper presented at the meeting of the 6th International Outdoor Education Research Conference, University of Otago, New Zealand.

Cooley, S. J., Burns, V. E., & Cumming, J. (2013, November). A systematic evaluation of outdoor education courses used in higher education to develop groupwork skills. Paper presented at the meeting of the 6th International Outdoor Education Research Conference, University of Otago, New Zealand.

Cooley, S. J., Cumming, J., Holland, M. J. G., & Burns, V. E. (2013, November). The internationalisation benefits of outdoor education: A mixed methods study. Poster session presented at the meeting of the 6th International Outdoor Education Research Conference, University of Otago, New Zealand.

Cooley, S. J., Cumming, J., Holland, M. J. G., & Burns, V. E. (2013, November).  Using outdoor education to develop teamwork skills in students: Evidence for a return on expectation. Poster session presented at the meeting of the World Outdoor Summit, Rotorua, New Zealand.

2012

Cooley, S. J. (2012, August). The semi-structured video diary room methodology (invited presentation). Paper presented at the meeting of TeachMeet, Higher Education Academy Annual Conference, University of Manchester.

Cooley, S. J., Cumming, J., & Burns, V. E. (2012, July). The use of a video diary room for collecting students’ self-reflections during outdoor education team skills courses. Poster session presented at the meeting of the Teaching and Learning Conference, University of Birmingham.  

Cooley, S. J., Cumming, J., Deery, L., Horgan, T., Novakovic, E., & Burns, V. E. (2012, August).  The use of a video diary room for collecting students’ self-reflections during outdoor education team skills courses. Poster session presented at the meeting of the Higher Education Academy Annual Conference, University of Manchester.

Cooley, S. J., Williams, S. E. Burns, V. E., & Cumming, J. (2012, April). Variations in imagery training interventions: A systematic review. In S. E. Williams (Chair), Imagine that! Developing imagery ability in sport, exercise, and dance. Symposium conducted at the meeting of the British Psychological Society Annual Conference, London.

Cumming, J., Williams, S. E., Weibull, F., & Cooley, S. J. (2012, April). Moving forwards: Imagery ability research in sport, exercise and dance. In S. E. Williams (Chair), Imagine that! Developing imagery ability in sport, exercise, and dance. Symposium conducted at the meeting of the British Psychological Society Annual Conference, London.

Weibull, F., Cumming, J., Williams, S. E., Cooley, S. J., & Burns, V. E. (2012, April). Improving exercise imagery ability in insufficiently active women: A brief imagery intervention. In S. E. Williams (Chair), Imagine that! Developing imagery ability in sport, exercise, and dance.  Symposium conducted at the meeting of the British Psychological Society Annual Conference, London.

Williams, S. E., Cooley, S. J., & Cumming, J. (2012, April). Developing sport imagery ability. In S. E. Williams (Chair), Imagine that! Developing imagery ability in sport, exercise, and dance.  Symposium conducted at the meeting of the British Psychological Society Annual Conference, London.

Williams, S. E., Cooley, S. J., & Cumming, J. (2012, October). Layering images improves imagery ability and subsequent golf putting performance. Paper presented at the meeting of the Association of Applied Sport Psychology 27th Annual Conference, Atlanta, GA.

2011

Cooley, S. J, & Cumming, J. (2011, July). Variations in imagery training interventions: A systematic review.  Paper presented at the meeting of the Research in Imagery and Observation Group, Manchester Metropolitan University.