STP's 19th Annual Conference on Teaching (ACT)

A Note from Jordan Troisi, the ACT Director (posted July 3, 2020)


Dear colleagues,

It is with a heavy heart that I write you today. I am saddened to report that we will be unable to host an in-person version of the Society for the Teaching of Psychology’s Annual Conference on Teaching (ACT) this October 8-10. For reasons that will be detailed at greater length below, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have made it impossible for us to convene––or reconvene––this year, an experience that I know many of us cherish.

Instead of our in-person gathering this fall, we will be hosting a virtual version of ACT ("Virtual ACT"). Before delving into the details of what that means for ACT and what that means for you, let me first speak from the heart a bit. These are hard times for higher education, for our country, and for the people we all care about. These are hard times for those of us who have helped to make the very difficult decisions related to ACT this fall. These are hard times for me, too. As many of you know, this fall’s ACT will be the last one for which I serve as the Director. And I’ll say now what has become the clich├ęd refrain of the last 5 months: “this is not how I wanted this to go.” This is not how I wanted ACT 2020 to go, and this is not how I wanted to go out when it comes to ACT. I will probably say more about this at a later date, but please understand that this was not a decision that we, or I, have taken lightly. On the contrary, it is a decision that weighed so heavily on me.

Rationale for moving to Virtual ACT

There are many factors that contributed to our decision to move ACT into the virtual realm. Here are just a few:

  1. The health and safety of our attendees comes first when planning ACT. The likelihood of viral spread among such a large gathering would have been almost guaranteed, and we cannot ignore such a credible threat to peoples’ physical and mental well-being. Many other conferences scheduled before and after ACT have also been cancelled or moved to a virtual environment for this same reason.
  2. Many institutions are restricting faculty and staff travel for the fall, either through policies or removal of typical travel funding. Even some institutions that haven’t done this yet might do so in the future. These funds are crucial for many individuals to attend ACT.
  3. Every year ACT has a contractual agreement with the hotel that serves as our site, and these contractual agreements delineate specific amounts of expenses that we, as a group, need to spend at a hotel to “hold up our end of the bargain.” We have been fortunate in recent years to go well above the threshold that our hotel sites require, but this year, we likely would not. We would pay a financial penalty if ACT was not sufficiently large.

What the future holds for ACT 2020

It would be impossible to recreate a normal ACT in a virtual form. So much of what’s valuable at ACT happens in the interpersonal domain in a physical space: the conversations with colleagues before or after symposia, the chance meetings in the hallways, the discussions that continue well into the evening. Successful conference events are people-focused, and that looks quite a bit different––but not impossible––with a virtual approach. We are planning a Virtual ACT that will still serve the major goals we have for ACT, but through a different pathway. 

Here are the types of programming that we anticipate will be a part of virtual ACT 2020 (please note, circumstances may require these to change):

  1. Construction of a PDF of the abstracts that will be accepted for the conference, which will allow our colleagues to include these items on their CVs.
  2. Access to all content of Virtual ACT for STP members through the STP website, with no additional registration fee.
  3. Asynchronous video recordings of select symposia accepted to ACT (details below).
  4. A small amount of specialized synchronous sessions, of short length, the week of October 5-10, including a culminating synchronous session on Saturday, October 10 (what would have been the last day of an in-person ACT). 
  5. Keynote presentations in either synchronous or asynchronous format based on speaker desires.
  6. An opportunity to hear how to get involved in STP (this was the former STP Business meeting).
  7. An opportunity to hear from the STP Annual Teaching Award Winners.

Procedures and the pathway forward 

Those of you receiving this message may fit into many different roles. We hope to clarify what this change in ACT means to you with the information below, and in the weeks to come when we unveil more details, but please let us know if you have any questions:

  1. Those who have already registered and paid for ACT: you will receive a full reimbursement of your registration fee. We will begin processing these soon.
  2. For those who have submitted work for presentation at ACT, in the weeks to come
  1. A small fraction of you will be invited to give a synchronous presentation of your work. We will prioritize approaches that already required synchronous components to the presentation. 
  2. A larger fraction, though still not as large as normal, will be invited to record a version of their presentation for upload to the Virtual ACT website that is in development. These videos will be available to STP members for at least the near future.
  3. For those who have their work “accepted” for this year’s ACT but are were not invited to present it in either synchronous or asynchronous form this year, many months from now you will have the capability to “opt-in” to have your work considered for presentation at ACT 2021 next year in Louisville, Kentucky. Those who opt-in will have their submission re-evaluated with the other 2021 ACT submissions.

In the coming weeks, we will have more details about these pathways forward. But we wanted to communicate this information with you now, so that you know what’s ahead. We look forward to working with you, hearing from you, and constructing a Virtual ACT that we can all be proud of. Thank you, as always, for being such delightful and hardworking colleagues.

Best wishes,

Jordan Troisi

ACT is the flagship conference of Division 2 of the American Psychological Association (The Society for the Teaching of Psychology).  ACT is scheduled for October 8-10, 2020.

Beginning with a welcome reception on the evening of Thursday October 8, then proceeding with two full days of conference events, ACT convenes college and secondary educators, particularly within the field of psychology, for symposia and demonstrations of best practices in teaching and the scholarship of teaching and learning.

Conference Co-Sponsors

Represent a business or organization interested in partnering with ACT? Reach out to the Conference Director, Jordan Troisi at annual-conference@teachpsych.org, for more information.


Why attendees fall in love with ACT!


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