Student Presents Academic Research at International Psychology Conference


By Wesley Fletcher, Brevard College Student, Psychology major

Article from The Clarion, Volume 88, Issue 17, February 3, 2023

In the Fall of 2021, I began working with Dr. Allison O’Leary to brainstorm an idea for my thesis in psychology. I never dreamed that I would have the opportunity to present that project at an actual, professional conference! I originally presented my thesis at the school’s poster symposium last spring. Following that, Dr. O’Leary strongly encouraged me to apply to present the project at a conference. So I applied. To my surprise, we were formally accepted to present at a poster session at the 2022 Psychonomics International Conference in psychology being held in Boston, MA! 

The project is an original experiment and research project that Dr. O’Leary and I have been working on for the past year. I’m proud to see it bear so much fruit. The goal of the experiment was to examine how manipulating metacognitive thinking would affect an individual’s willingness to change their beliefs. Metacognition refers to one’s thinking or cognition about their own thoughts. An example of metacognition is acknowledging a mistake made while typing a sentence in an email. 

The idea of being invited to present research at an academic conference as an undergraduate student was nerve wracking, to say the least. Dr. O’Leary helped make sure that I was well prepared. At the conference, presenting felt so natural and it was quite encouraging to be able to have meaningful conversations with other folks in the field about this niche research topic. The conference itself was actually an exhilarating experience. I went to a handful of symposiums and poster sessions where I got to connect with other graduate students, faculty, and post-doctorates from around the world. I learned about their research, and got some invaluable insight into the world of psychology. I am so thankful to have had this opportunity as an undergraduate. Presenting at a professional conference is a valuable addition to resumes and graduate school applications. I hope to encourage other students at Brevard to aim at attending professional conferences. They are a great way to push your own limits and expectations as a student and encourage academic and professional growth. 

Lastly, after reflecting on my past four years at Brevard, I want to extend my gratitude to Dr. O’Leary for encouraging and supporting my education. Without her dedication and support, I likely would never have had the confidence or opportunity to push myself to attend this conference.