If you follow me on social media you were probably super annoyed with me this past weekend! I posted a lot of pictures and tweeted some great things that were going on at the WPA conference I attended.

To make it simple this was a national conference that the Western Psychological Association (WPA) set up for students, teachers, schools, publishers, etc. to come and flaunt what they’ve got! For Lisa and I we were showing off our research project we’ve been working on since last August.

How did you get chosen to present?
Basically we wrote an abstract about our research, turned it in, and got accepted! We were really nervous about being accepted because we hadn’t completed our project so our entire abstract was all projected outcomes.

What was your research project on?
There is a whole lot of little details that I will skip over…

Lisa and I, along with our mentor Aaron, came up with an original hypothesis and did a pilot study. We came up with a reward based program and then implemented it in local middle schools to see if it our program would help student’s grades improve. Participants had to have C grades or lower and could not be currently enrolled in an IEP (individual education program). Each student was asked to write down their daily homework assignments and have their teachers initial that they wrote down their homework correctly. Once their homework was completed at home the parents would initial the calendar saying that it was completed and then students would turn in their homework and the teacher would again sign the calendar indicating that the student had turned in their homework.

Isn’t our poster pretty?!

Sounds like a lot of work? It was! If the student completed the calendar with x amount of signature they would receive a reward. The reward was to be determined and carried out by the parent the same weekend they turned in a completed calendar. Most rewards consisted of getting money, later curfew, sleepover that weekend, etc.

The treatment group did this for an entire school year and the control group did this for 1 school semester.

Our results didn’t show any significant changes which means that as an average the students didn’t get better grades or worse grades from when they started. Obviously there was some change in their grades but not enough to support our hypothesis. There were a few student’s who did do very well with the program though so hopefully they learned some new skills that they can take with them throughout high school and college.

Conference Day 1

This was our big presentation day where we were on the floor meeting face to face with people and discussing our research. It was a lot of fun being able to talk to people who were genuinely interested in our research and that understood what we were doing. We got a lot of positive feedback about our topic and research as well as a lot of compliments on taking on such a huge project for undergrad students.

The whole day was really validating and exciting! I loved being in a room with people who were all interested in the same things and passionate about psychology. Walking around and seeing other projects and hard work and discussing with everyone’s different research was really fun! I felt like I was a part of something big. Sounds super cheesy but it’s true!

After hours and hours of presenting we walked around to look at other presenters before heading back to our hotel to relax by the pool! It was much needed after such a long day and the weather was perfect to lay out and relax.
Conference Day 2

After more presenting we wandered around to different seminars and symposiums but we mostly spent our time at the film festival. We watch a few films such as Red to White which was a documentary from the families point of view about their daughter/sister being placed into a psychiatric unit. Then we watched Alfredo’s Fire which was a documentary about a homosexual man who set himself on fire. This was a very intriguing film so if you want to know more about it feel free to ask or just Google it.
My favorite film we watched was called Romeo Romeo which was a documentary about this lesbian couple and their struggle with infertility. I loved how real the documentary was showing the struggle of being infertile and showing the effects it had on their relationship. It was sad and insightful and exciting all at the same time!
We also stopped at a fun little gift shop and I got this super awesome mug with famous psychologist’s on it! Afterwards we went back to our hotel to relax before heading out to dinner with Lisa’s fiance who was passing through town.
Conference Day 3

This was the last day for us! We didn’t have any presentations but a few other students from Dixie were presenting so naturally we had to go and support them! They all did a great job and had very cool research topics. We definitely represented Dixie well at the conference.
Afterwards we watched another film called Evolution of a Criminal and then attended a panel about graduate school. Very insightful and successful day!
There was more going on like hearing from Phil Zimbardo (HUGE deal in the psych world) and other cool films showing but we decided to just head out once all of the Dixie student presentations were done.
Overall I had a great time! Lisa and I have put a lot of hard work into this project so it was great being able to show it off and be acknowledged for it. The past school year has been really frustrating and stressful but this weekend made it all worth it!