Tag Archives: san francisco

The Golden Delegate Bridge

(Sorry, that’s a truly appalling title. Let’s move on.)

Just back from the APS annual convention in San Francisco, where I gave a poster and apparently vindicated some people. Which was nice, since everyone got to feel all warm and fuzzy.

The poster was about how putting more material on presentation slides can actually have a deleterious effect on how much is recalled afterwards. And the great thing was, people kept coming up and saying, I’ve thought this for years but never actually tested it. Or, I’ve been doing this; thank you for confirming my theories! Or — and this was my absolute favourite — I want to give a copy of this to all my colleagues.

So it went pretty well. I mean, nobody came up and argued with me
about the work, which I half expected (You did what? How does that prove anything?) I did have some useful discussions about the methodology (we should test recall later/tie it to students’ grades/replicate it in a teaching setting, outside the lab — the latter, at least, is done, though we’re only just about to start looking at the results.) And I got an excellent suggestion about how to test my two opposing theories as to why it all works – though first I need to write up the experiments we’ve actually done.

I also went to some great talks on education and use of technology, which I hope to write about when I’ve finished processing what I want to say about them. One of the unofficial themes of the conference seemed to be that Generation Y (millennials, if you prefer) is relatively narcissistic; another was about the need to eradicate pseudoscience (my colleague the Punk Psychologist would have enjoyed that). But really you could have walked into more or less any hall and found something to get your teeth into.

If there was any disappointment, it was mainly because I didn’t get to talk to enough other people about their pedagogical research, because they were presenting it at the same time as I was – that, and all the stuff I wanted to see, clashed horribly (holding the bulk of the Teaching Institute on one day just seems cruel). But I imagine it’s pretty hard to run a multi-track conference and please everybody all the time.

Bonus: San Francisco is a nice city. People smile there, and it’s
eminently walkable, if you don’t mind serious hills. And the fog! Wow.
San Franciscans dress quite like the Brits (lots of black, even when the sun is out!), perhaps never knowing when the weather is going to turn on them.

I haven’t slept for nearly 30 hours. Take that, body-clock!

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