Someone asked me what it is I learned at AERA that no formal course can teach me? It was a good question — I began to think a bit more about it beyond the big idea that I had learned a lot, things I could never get from a structured, formal learning setting for PhD students.
1. I got to watch how AERA operates from the inside — from one view — Division C.There is this humongous machinery that churns out different sorts of activities and events to cater to a large range of educational interests, and I am a teeny bit of this well-oiled machinery. I help to schedule, plan, coordinate and get a host of activities running.
2. I got more practice in interacting and mingling with established faculty and research scholars, in an intensive period of time. No kidding, THIS sort of interaction needs practice! More than 90% of the time these days, I’m a grubby dressed-down graduate student. At this meeting, I assume the role that I might and hope to become one day, a researcher and/or maybe a faculty member (who knows). Being in Division C, I meet a big number of motivation scholars at the meetings. And I dress up somewhat in business casuals — no grubby jeans with wild hair.
3. I watch these researcher-models and listen to them talk — about their vision and plans for the Division. Albeit for only a few days, I watch them come together to serve and it was fascinating. As I’m in Div C, I had the chance to meet up and talk with a number of motivation research scholars I had only read about — Dr. Lisa-Linnenbrink Garcia, who is of course our GSC faculty adviser; Dr. Karen Murphy the chair-elect of Div C; Dr. Christopher Wolters; Dr. Richard Mayer, and Dr. Dale Schunk (who was sitting behind me, and the Fireside Chat speaker last year).
4. I believe I have become more confident in relating to new people and strangers in a large conference. This year was different from last year – I was the incoming junior rep then, and things were confusing. This year, after all the planning, interaction and apprenticeship with the student committee, I knew a bit more about what to expect. Going to AERA is definitely different from going to AECT. I go to AERA not just for a presentation, I go there to serve/work and really meet people. Going to AECT was a more unplanned, unscheduled experience and I don’t really meet new people because I tend to hang out with my group. At AERA, I have friends from other universities.
So these are some of my thoughts. I’ll jot down more as I recall them.