2012 APA Convention award program for high school teachers and students

Highlights from the teachers and students who attended this year’s convention through a special award program

By Caitlin Crowley

In 2012, the APA Education Directorate Office of Precollege and Undergraduate Education (PCUE) announced an award program for high school psychology teachers and their students to attend the 2012 APA Annual Convention. The APA convention was held in Orlando, Fla., Aug. 2-5, at the Orange County Convention Center. The goal of the program was to bring high school students who had shown special interest in psychological science to the APA convention to expose them to sessions, keynote addresses, exhibits and more, and increase their awareness of and interest in psychology. Ultimately, six teachers and 21 of their students were selected to participate in the program. The 2012 APA Convention Award Program for High School Psychology Teachers and Students was made possible thanks to the generous support of APA President Suzanne Bennett Johnson, PhD.

Through this program, teachers and students were provided with materials and guidance to help plan for and enhance their attendance at convention. Listings of program highlights of particular interest to high school psychology students; a “Student Guide to the APA Convention,” which outlined helpful convention information for students; and access to an APA staff “convention guide,”who was available to answer questions and provide assistance throughout the convention were provided.

With such a wide variety of programming available, students and teachers were able to tailor their convention experiences to their personal interests. Students were drawn to a variety of sessions, including those addressing sport psychology, eating disorders, domestic abuse, forensic psychology and human factors research.

Overwhelmingly, students and teachers were eager to attend so many sessions related to topics covered in their classrooms. Students were especially excited at the opportunity to see presentations given by well-known psychologists only previously discussed in class. Students and teachers alike were impressed with the overall scale of the convention and the breadth of the discipline that it helped illustrate.

Nicole Richardson, a teacher at Hillsborough High School in Tampa, Fla., noted, “the highlight of the trip for [the students] was meeting Dr. Zimbardo and attending his presentation. It was an experience that I know none of them will ever forget. The opportunity to see what we talk about in the classroom happening in real life was invaluable for them.”

Sydney Nadeau, a student at Leavitt Area High School in Turner, Maine, felt similarly, “Meeting people who are on the cutting edge of research and meeting psychologists from our text book was amazing. It was amazing to meet and speak with Phillip Zimbardo.”

Chris Cifelli, a teacher at Leavitt Area High School, spoke to the overall effect of the program: “the trip had a definite impact on my students, and it also improved my teaching.”

Dr. Johnson’s vision that engaging the next generation of psychologists should start with opportunities for high school students ensured that an energetic group of psychology students were given exposure to so much of what the field has to offer. Engaging the next generation of psychologists was one of Dr. Johnson’s 2012 presidential initiatives.

Overall, Dr. Johnson’s generosity supported a successful program. Thanks to the APA Convention Award Program, students and teachers were able to take advantage of APA’s world-class programming, helping to enhance their learning and teaching experiences with psychological science. While it is unknown whether a similar awards program will be held in future years, all high school teachers are encouraged to consider attending the APA convention and bringing students with them if possible. The 2013 convention will be held in Honolulu, Hawai’i, July 31–Aug. 4; see the Convention page for details.

From left to right: Nadiya Fakhar, Naya Martin, H. Nicole Richardson, Dr. Phillip Zimbardo, Rachel Street(H. Nicole Richardson and her students are from Hillsborough High School in Tampa, Fla.)

From left to right: Nadiya Fakhar, Naya Martin, H. Nicole Richardson, Dr. Phillip Zimbardo, Rachel Street
(H. Nicole Richardson and her students are from Hillsborough High School in Tampa, Fla.)