January 3, 2010

I am writing from cold and cloudy St. Pete’s Beach Florida at the annual National Institute for Teaching of Psychology (NITOP).  One would think that an early January getaway for Florida would be nice: sun, beach, water.  But this year me and four of my department colleagues were met with clouds, cold, and even a frost warning in the Tampa Bay area.  But don’t get me wrong, the conference is great, the weather has little to be desired except that it’s not as cold as home.

NITOP is a great conference for those of us who are dedicated to the teaching of psychology.  I have wanted to attend this conference for several years, but it was quite cost prohibitive (nearly $450 for registration alone, not including air fare and hotel).  But this year our department applied for a grant for faculty development and our college has graciously allowed us to attend this conference.

Today I attended a couple of very good sessions.  One session will be of great use immediately.  The session on examples and exercises for Statistics and Research Methods was fabulous and we all came away with a packet full of possible things to use in our courses.

The other interesting session was on Evolutionary psychology. This session was probably best for those that have little to no background in this newer field of psychology (like me).  I must admit to not having much of an idea of what this field is about and have been reluctant to include any discussion of evolutionary theory in my courses because of my ignorance.  But Michael Buss was a fantastic speaker and really made this very interesting field accessible.  I think I will probably try to incorporate some of these ideas into a couple of my courses (general psych and possibly developmental during the discussion of genetics).

I also attended a couple of other sessions for those who are teaching introduction to psychology and using online social communities in the classroom.  These I did not get as much from, but this is only because the speakers covered information that I was already aware of.  These were likely good session for a person very new to teaching or who has little to no experience in using online social communities in the classroom.

Finally there was a poster session that was pretty good.  Unfortunately by this time of day I was pretty tired and was not really in the mood to interact much with folks.  I did pick up quite a few handouts and hopefully these will be useful for some of my own research interests, particularly the use of student response systems or ‘clickers’.

All in all a good first day.  Next there is a reception with complementary nibbles and drinks and a dance with a DJ.  I’m sort of interested to see how the dance goes.

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