The poster session is a great experience to go through (even if it does not feel like it when you’re slaving away trying to make your poster just right) and gives you invaluable feedback on your experiment.
Between stressing about the thesis itself and presenting it to a member of staff, that most likely has a Phd and multiple years of experience in the research field, it’s quite hard to take a step back and think about what you are actually accomplishing. The poster session allows for just that. You get the opportunity to truly look at your thesis from an objective point of view and be proud of the project you have been nursing for multiple months now. Talking to both the students and the lecturers provides you with ideas, opinions and criticism that you had not even considered to that point. For me the most important part of the whole experience was the interaction between the staff and the fourth year students. It was a day that had been looming in my calendar for months and I had already envisioned a hundred different ways in which it could go wrong and how I could embarrass myself in front of “real” psychologists and yet when I turned up it was just a room filled with like-minded people with an interest in psychology.
My advice to third year students who will have to take part in the poster session next year is to (when the time comes) step back and enjoy the day. It’s a great time to hear about interesting research, get feedback on your experiment and, most importantly, realise the extent of how far you’ve gotten. Another important thing to note is that as most of us have gotten used to quite formal presentations throughout our university years, this is nothing like that. Yes you should know what you’re doing, which you probably will because you have been working on it for months, but there might also be things that you are unsure of at the moment and that is completely fine. There is not one staff member that will try and “catch” you or expose you, only people who have a genuine interest in psychology and would like to hear about your experiment.
Some more technical tips would be to make your poster colourful, easy to read and maybe give it a catchy title. You will have many people walking past you only giving you a quick glance and the easiest way to catch their interest is by making the poster colourful and exciting. In the end the poster session is there to reassure you and to give you some new inspiration for writing the thesis and you should really enjoy it.
Jannica is a 4th year single honours psychology student.