My first NITOP meeting is in the books! First and foremost, it was wonderful to get to spend time with the rest of The Novice Professor Crew – we were even able to celebrate our one year anniversary haha.
Walking to the conference center on my first day I did not know what to expect at NITOP. How much would I get out of the talks? Who would be the other attendees? Were we really going to have 8+ hours of scheduled things to do each day? Would anyone come by my poster? And on and on. Honestly, I had zero expectations for my first meeting, just wanted to go with the flow and see what happened.
Day 1 was jam packed. I was able to attend a few talks, and then had my poster presentation concerning the effectiveness of mandatory one-on-one meetings with the professor in an introductory psychology class. You can see a copy of the poster here. Moral of the story is that students were able to learn about the professor, were able to learn about the class and expectations for the class, and students were in favor of having another mandatory meeting later in the semester. If you are interested, I would love to talk with you further about my findings!
After the poster presentation, we all attended something unique to me called a “Participant Idea Exchange”. The PIE as it is known at NITOP allows attendees to propose specific topics, such as faculty on-campus housing, the importance of social media for tenure purposes, virtual reality as a teaching tool (just to name a few), and the rest of the attendees can stay for as short or as long as they want at each table to discuss the proposed topic. I thought this was a fantastic idea to allow participants to sample various conversations and to seek out a few that they were most interested in.
In addition to the PIE, I most enjoyed the teaching slams (where Karly did an excellent job presenting on rebranding office hours) and the DEMO DEMO. At DEMO DEMO, presenters are given approximately 10 minutes to show off an in-class demonstration or activity that they find incredibly useful. This year we learned a pretty neat card trick that can get students to (unintentionally) start using the scientific method. If I can present the instructions correctly for the card trick I just might have to use this one!
All told, I will 100% without a doubt be attending more NITOPs in the future. It was an amazing combination of seeing my old professors and catching up with old friends, all while meeting people who share a passion of mine – striving to be the best psychology instructor they can. Overall, that is what stuck with me the most – that it is so cool we are able to attend a conference dedicated to improving one’s teaching. Additionally, I was impressed with the number of attendees at the conference. There were high school educators, community college instructors, instructors from small schools and even large R1 institutions. Regardless, each attendee was friendly and genuinely interested in becoming the best instructor they could. For that reason alone, not to mention all of the neat techniques I encountered and tips I picked up, I look forward to attending more NITOPs in the future.
written by Brian Day