Sorry folks! Usually I write my recaps a bit sooner, but I jumped right into internship (yay!) the day after convention it’s been a busy few weeks. As the semester is gearing up and my head is in the internship-clouds, I’ll keep this short and sweet. Where to begin…
This year’s convention was in the hot-yet-freezing city of San Francisco. It was my first time visiting and it’s certainly an interesting spot. I loved the legacy transit vehicles that are in use and it was fun to “spot” different cities as they passed (Hi TTC! Hi Detroit!). Amidst the beauty, San Francisco has a lot of poverty but also a lot of community activism and strength. Interestingly, after convention I came across an example of this in the health equity literature for my internship. Corburn and Cohen (2012) write:
“In Richmond, California, located in the San Francisco Bay Area, one-third of residents live at or below 200% of the federal poverty line, over 60% of the population is African-American, Latino, or Asian-American, one in seven people are unemployed, residents live with elevated concentrations of industrial and mobile source air pollution, and it is one of the most violent cities, measured by per capita homicide rates, in the United States. In Richmond, African-Americans have the highest rate of infant mortality, low-birth weight babies, and asthma hospitalizations in Contra Costa County, and residents of the Iron Triangle neighborhood, one of the poorest in the city, die on average 13 years earlier than their wealthier white neighbors.”
In the same article the authors describe the “Measuring What Matters” initiative, which came out of a partnership between community-based organizations and the health department, and aimed to identify areas of priority (and corresponding indicators) for the community in terms of health care inequities. The project has been ongoing since 2012 and the Richmond Health Equity Partnership continues to track progress and work towards equity on these indicators. On Sunday, I had a few hours to explore the city outside of the convention center and I came across many beautiful works of public art that highlight some of the ongoing struggles and concerns faced by the community.
Now, onto convention! Kicking off Thursday morning was a conversation with Dr. Stephanie Shields of Pennsylvania State University at the APAGS Cafe Chat. We made a circle and Dr. Shields was kind enough to let us pick her brain about research and her career. There were a few pieces of advice that stuck with me. First, keep a “mother CV” where you record absolutely everything and keep it updated. That way, when it’s time to apply for jobs or reflect on your professional journey, it’s all at your fingertips. Many of us already do some form of this (best intentions!), but remembering to keep it up to date when we’re busy and not actively job searching is a challenge. Schedule a time to review your CV on a regular basis, such as monthly or at the beginning of every semester. Second, keep all of the “life justifications” that you write. Y’know, all the awkward statements you write when applying to grad school and then again for scholarship applications and then again for teaching statements and then again for grant applications, and so on and so forth. Well, if you haven’t noticed already, if you plan to remain in academic settings you’ll basically have to keep writing these things for the rest of time. So you might as well (a) keep them and (b) use them as part of your reflective process. Dr. Shields spoke about looking back on the statements she’d written to identify growth and things to work on. To be honest, prior to that conversation I thought of those statements as a sort of necessary evil – painful to write and never to be thought of again. I’m fairly certain I’m not alone in that, which is a shame because it seems like a lost opportunity for scholarly development. And really, if we have to spend the time writing them, it makes sense to get as much out of it as possible.
When not in APAGS programming, I mostly attended teaching presentations on a variety of topics (e.g., scaffolding for millennials and rubrics). I may write about some of them in later posts, but one study that was particularly interesting was presented by Dr. Alvin Malesky of Western Carolina University. Dr. Malesky and team were interested in learning more about how students actually cheat in online courses. A very timely topic. Essentially, the researchers ran an online intro psych course exactly as if it was a regular course (including listing it with the registrar) but invited half of the students to cheat however they wanted. They even provided one student with funds to hire an online service that will take the course on your behalf. All of the students also completed journals about their perceptions of assignments (e.g., how much time they took, workload, etc.). Long story short, the instructors were not able to tell who was cheating (despite knowing that half the class was) and the assignments that students who were not cheating found most challenging were the ones that were the easiest for the other group of students. Overall the study raised more questions than answers about what this means for teaching, but several suggestions were made. Since first generation methods like turn-it-in are not sufficient for detection, and since instructors themselves are unable to tell, the panel suggested that mindful course design and use of engagement strategies may decrease instances of academic integrity violations. Interesting research design and certainly a lot to think about!
As always, the APAGS social was amazing – good drinks, good food, good people – but this year, we were also celebrating APAGS’ 30th birthday (#APAGSturns30) so we basically had a big birthday bash (complete with cake!). Afterwards, I ended up at baseball game – unfortunately, that’s about as sports-specific as I can get with the details. The stadium (ballpark? arena? who knows…) was right on the water and had a beautiful view of the water from several vantage points (though I have been told that there are no bad seats at a baseball game). The following night was the Division 30 social, which was a lot of fun and filled with colourful characters 🙂
At the APAGS Social Photo Booth
There were a number of other excellent presentations (and I certainly have a number of reflections about the city), but I want to wrap up by talking about Convention Committee. This year was my third and final year on the committee 🙂 Unfortunately, this year we didn’t have a dinner with all the APAGS staff and other committee members, which was a little sad but I hope our paths will cross again. Convention itself was amazing and tiring and fun and I learned many things (as usual). As for the committee, I’m grateful to have had the chance be a part APAGS leadership and to have met so many fantastic people from around the world. I hope to continue my journey with APAGS in the form of an elected position, and you can read a bit more about my campaign on the Member-at-Large, Candidate Statement page.