It is that wonderful time of the year when behavior analysts and colleagues from around the world will gather to celebrate, learn, and discuss the science of behavior. For those behavior analysts who have not attended ABAI’s annual conference in the past or who are relatively new to the field, conference poster sessions can be overwhelming and a confusing experience. For those behavior analysts who have been around the block, the poster session is usually a beautiful breeding ground of the young and the new. The poster session fosters an equal opportunity playing ground for naïve newcomers and grizzled ABA veterans alike. In order to maximize your poster viewing experience we recommend conceptualizing your role as a viewer in four different ways:
1) Learn about the most recent work in the field. Before the dawn of the Internet and fast-paced communication, a well-crafted poster served as the way to share the most up-to-date information about the progression of the field. Even today poster sessions permit viewers to access fascinating and relevant projects that may never reach the point of publication. The poster session is also a way to see the pulse of the field and to survey the direction of the field in general. You may find new directions you’re interested in, or even have your own assumptions about the science of human behavior challenged.
2) Have an ear to listen. Number two is about allowing presenters to practice their skill sets in presenting, and although you may not have any feedback, it can be a great way to support people who are working on their skills of pitching their work to other professionals. Never hesitate to ask someone about their poster: it’s always better than standing by it silently, waiting for them to speak!
3) Provide feedback on technical issues, presentation style or general advice. Number three is all about allowing your professional skills to aid others in creating new skills. This can be in the technical aspects of their work, which may provide them with future directions, providing feedback on their presentation skills, or in general allowing them to contact another resource to improve the quality of their work. When providing feedback it is important to stay professional and to view this as an opportunity to help others. First time poster presenters can utilize this feedback to further their study of the science of human behavior.
4) Create collaborative relationships to pursue in the future. Over the years we at Brohavior have that found relationship building to be the most fun and exciting experience of the poster session(s). This is a great place to network and find others that have similar interest as you. At the poster session you can have magnificent conversations that may change the way you think about a specific area or even the subject matter in general. This is an opportunity for you and your colleagues to learn from each other and become more effective scientists.
When attending the poster session, it is important to be flexible and allow yourself to interact with each poster in a way that relates to your own professional interest. The suggestions above are by no means the only way to participate in a poster session, but it is our hope that they provide the young and budding behavior analyst with a guide on how to have fun while learning about the science. It is most important to have fun and allow yourself to enjoy the posters while celebrating the work of your colleagues from around the world!
What are your conference tips? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to subscribe to bSci21 via email to receive the latest articles directly to your inbox!
About the Author:
Following graduation from Master’s programs many behavior analysts find themselves in a cold dark world where they are searching for the light of peers that share their approach to the subject matter of behavior. One online group called Brohavior (derived from “brotherhood”) has recently created a refuge for behavior analysts looking for the light in order to continue their own development. The group aims to create a collaborative environment where students of behavior analysis are exposed to and pursue behavior analytic literature, philosophy and research that is outside of the scope of the BACB-approved course sequence.