I attended NITOP for the second time this year, and for both years now, I left the conference with a positive impression. For example, last year I was impressed by the sense of community cultivated by the NITOP attendees. Everyone I spoke with was very welcoming and genuinely cared about getting to know me. This year I was impressed by the utility of the shared ideas. Not everything was useful to me, but I feel like I left with a number of ideas that I can readily and easily implement into my courses. Below I’ll discuss a few that I’m especially excited for.
1. Jeff Nevid presented the idea of using mastery questions or quizzes. These are multiple choice questions that students have the opportunity to answer at the beginning and end of class via online polling software. When these are assigned points toward the overall course grade, they promote a number of good habits in students such as being on time and staying engaged throughout class. Who doesn’t want that? I plan to implement these in my statistics class this semester to see which students are reading the book before coming to class and to assess student learning of new concepts. However this idea could be easily applied to most all content courses.
2. During her session on the replicability crisis, Simine Vazire included a nice animation describing why larger sample sizes are better. This can be a hard concept for students to grasp sometimes, but being able to show them an engaging animation may help them better understand it (as opposed to knowing the fact and regurgitating it). I definitely plan on showing my students this later in the semester. You can check out the animation here.
3. Another exciting demonstration I plan to use in future semesters came from Robert Calin-Jageman. It’s called Cartoon Network! Cartoon network is a neural network simulator that can be used with students of all ages (He reported using it with third graders and college students.) so they can gain a better understanding of these complex circuits. This program would work well as a demonstration in introductory or cognitive psychology courses. This is most likely how I plan to use it. He also reported that students can work in teams to complete different challenges. Either way, it sounds like an interactive demonstration that will entice students to learn while they are having fun!
The program is free and open-source, and it can be run on any machine with Java installed. You can download the latest version here. From the demonstration he gave, it seemed pretty easy to use too! If you want more information on Cartoon Network, check out this paper!
4. Last, but certainly not least, is an idea that could be used as an alternative to typical student presentations. It’s called Pecha Kucha, meaning chit chat in Japanese. In this type of presentation, the presenter(s) use(s) 20 PowerPoint slides set to advance every 20 seconds automatically. Presenters are encouraged to use pictures on slides as opposed to text. This results in a reasonably short presentation (less than 7 minutes), and according to the presenter, Kelly Warmuth, students tend to enjoy the process of putting it together and presenting it to the class.
When I teach introductory psychology again, I want to incorporate this idea by having groups of students give Pecha Kucha presentations throughout the semester. Groups will be able to pick the topic of their presentation from a list that I generate. These topics will be tied to specific chapters. The topic/chapter they choose will determine when they present throughout the semester.
These are my top four favorite tips/ideas that I picked up at NITOP this year that I’m excited to use right away! What were some of your favorite ideas shared at NITOP 2018?
Written by Jen Blush