NCPTW 2015 First-time Attendee FAQ

Jordin Hartley, a Writing Advisor at Salt Lake Community College Student Writing Center put together the following FAQ aimed particularly at first-time conference attendees.


What happens at a conference?

There are many exciting events that will occur at NCPTW 2015 including, but not limited to: Formal sessions, various types of breakouts, social gatherings (luncheon, meet/ greets, etc.), award ceremonies, planning committees, networking (meeting, talking, meals) and keynote speakers (during which there are no other sessions going on).

Where do I go? How do I choose what sessions to attend?

Attendees choose which sessions they wish to attend.  A program will be issued that explains the breakouts/sessions (often there are several related themes on a block). Read the program in its entirety and note the sessions that spark your interest. In one block there may be multiple sessions about a similar topic. Ways by which you might choose which breakouts to attend include interest in subject matter, supporting specific individuals (often from own institution), or because the presenter may be someone you know/respect, regardless of their presentation’s subject matter. You may even want to attend sessions whose subject matter lies outside the topics you are accustomed to. Take useful notes on each session you attend and jot down any questions you may have. Please be sure to ask any questions you may have, as your questions may be more important than you think. If you absolutely must leave a session early, be sure to do so in an inconspicuous, as not to disrupt those around you. Do the same if you arrive late to a session. Do not hesitate to introduce yourself to a scholar whose work you admire and of course, be sure to network as much as possible, and refrain from socializing exclusively with scholars from your own institution.

What types of sessions are usually presented?

The most typical of presentations are individual & panel presentations, round tables, poster presentations, and workshops.  Each type of session differs in its overall design.  Round tables, for example, are meant to create conversations among the attendees.  Other types presentations involve more lecture or formal presentation.  Workshops allow attendees to develop something tangible they can take away from the conference right in the session.

What do sessions consist of?

Sessions consist largely of publication of primary research, theoretical presentations, best practices (what works for us and why it may be valuable to others), and topical presentations.

How are sessions carried out?

Sessions typically begin with an introduction of presentations and speakers by the session chair (or moderator). Time should be reserved for questions at end of each block. Also, keep in mind that breakout sessions may or may not involve participatory exercises, which are common in workshops.

How long is the conference?

NCPTW 2015 will last 3 days.

How long are the sessions?

Most sessions will usually last 60 minutes.

What is the purpose of a conference?

The purposes of a conference are to encourage scholarly inquiry, provide a venue for publication of research, build communities, elect memberships/leaderships, gain recognition in a given field, acts as a form of training for presenting in a scholarly community, and even to help promote the progression of a community or discipline. (In what direction are we moving as a field?)

How many people will be there?

There are approximately 500 people registered for the conference.

How many expected in each breakout room (session)?

The size of rooms varies, but most hold 30-60 people.

Does everyone stay the whole time? Where do people stay the nights?

Presenters are encouraged take part in the entire conference, and stay to participate in some part of it other than their own presentation. Conferences offer different types of registration (full week, weekend); most people stay in the hotel that is hosting the conference or one that is associated with it, which in our case will be the Little America. Host hotels often give rooming discounts to attendees.

What should I do after the conference?

Always debrief the presentations with your fellow scholars. There may have been material that you missed, which colleagues can fill you in on; you can also fill each other in on sessions that you (or they) may have missed. Take the time to reflect on what you have learned throughout the conference, and remember to share these things with fellow scholars. Also, be sure to find means of staying in contact with those whom you’ve networked with during the conference. There are many opportunities to be opened up through meeting new people in your field.

Session Chair Guide

So you’ve been given a chair assignment and have no idea what a session chair does?  We hope that this guide will help you out.

How do I know if I have a chair assignment, or How do I find out when am I chairing a session?

If you aren’t sure that you have been assigned a session to chair, you can check in the finalized program.  It is a PDF and you can search for your name, or look in the participant index at the end. The participant index is alphabetized by first name.

How were the chairs assigned?

In general, chairs were chosen by their interest in the topics being covered in particular sessions.  They will have presented or will be presenting on a similar topic, in other words.

What does a session chair do?

A session chair helps to maintain order in individual sessions.  Before the session, introduce yourself to the presenters and ask them if there is anything that they would like you to do in particular.  At the appointed starting time, introduce the session, usually by reading the title of the presentations and introducing the participants.  For panel sessions, you will usually only need to read one title, but check with your presenters.  For individual sessions that are grouped together in pairs or triplets, give the title of their presentation and then introduce the presenter(s).  Notify attendees that the presenters will be answering questions at the end of the session;  this is particularly important if there are multiple individual presentations in your session.

The presenters then take over, and you can sit back and enjoy the session.  You will need to watch the clock, however, to make sure that presentations are sticking to time limits (see the next question for more information about timing.)

How much time do sessions have?

Each session is 70 minutes long.  In general, presentations should take up 60 minutes with 10 minutes question and answer time.

Different types of sessions, however, have different timings.

Individual sessions are the most complicated, and timing depends on how many individual presentations there are.  In general, there are at least two individual presenters in a session, but most sessions are divided into three presentations. Time will need to be divided equally between the presenters.  A session with three presenters, therefore, would have twenty minute presentations.  A session with two individual presenters would be divided in half for 30 minutes each.  If a presenter finishes early, however, don’t panic:  there will be more time for discussion later.

Round tables are paired, so each round table session would have 30 minutes to hold their discussion.  Round tables are discussion-based, and you should ask your presenters what they would like you to do.  Most of the time, the presenters will handle questions and discussion, and you can sit back and watch the clock.   At the end of both round table discussions, you can help both groups field more questions from the audience.

Panel presentations are composed of people who pre-planned a whole session. Please clarify with them what they would like you to do in a session.  In general, however, you will just need to make sure that the group finishes at their allotted session time.

Should I let my presenters know how much time they have left?

Generally it is a good idea to let presenters–particularly individual presentation presenters–know when they have 5 minutes left so they can wrap up.  We will provide notification cards in each room that you may flash to the presenter when they have 5 minutes left, or when they need to move on.

What if someone is done with their allotted time but won’t stop presenting?

This is a very rare occurrence, but if it does happen, you may, as session chair, inform the presenter that the session must move on to another presentation.  Use your best judgment, however, as there is some flexibility of timing built into the sessions.

What if I am listed as chair of my own session?

The conference co-chairs assigned session chairs to each session, but on occasion we had chairs drop out of the conference altogether.  This left for some gaps that we could realistically only fill by giving chair duties to someone already in the room.  We appreciate that it can be difficult to wear two hats in a session.  We suggest that you share out the chairing duties of watching them time among all participants then.

What if the chair listed in my session doesn’t show up?

Chairs missing a session does happen, unfortunately.  As with being your own chair, you will need to take on the responsibility of being the chair.  If you have co-presenters or other people presenting during your session, it is best to work it out with them.

What if the projector or other technology isn’t working?

There will be information about contacting technical support at the projector tables.

What if someone wants a projector but there isn’t one in the room?

This is a tough one, as the conference co-chairs made every effort to make sure that people who wanted technology were accommodated accordingly.  Technology expenses, however, made it impossible for every room to be equipped with a projector.  If someone requested a projector on their original proposal, or informed the co-chairs back in the programming stage of the conference, then they were accommodated.  It is impossible on the day of the conference to provide projectors in non-tech rooms.  Rooms with a projector, by the way, are denoted by a asterisk (*) in the program.

TutorCon Teaser

by the TutorCon/Tutor Reception Committee (Bethany Bibb, Jarrod Barben, John Ramirez, Jordin Hartley, Nic Contreras, and Sarah Abraham)

Since tutoring is itself a social interaction, no conference would be complete without some social time for tutors.   Join us Friday, Nov. 6, 6-8pm for TutorCon–tutor-only event with fun and games and good company.

Here’s a taste of what we have in store, so sharpen your wits and show off your fun side!

Point of Origin with Sarah Abraham

Point of Origin is a mapping activity where participants take a pin and place it on a map to indicate where in the world they come from.  Proposals were accepted from all over the world, and we wanted to have a visual depiction of how diverse the world of writing centers is.

The Ultimate PIXperience:  A Pictionary Odyssey with Jarrod Barben

A Pictionary-ish powerhouse for the ages. Draw deep. Draw together.

Story (Col)laboratory with Jordin Hartley

Story (Col)laboratory is a fun activity during which stories will be compiled in a line-by-line fashion on an over-sized notebook by attendees of TutorCon. Each attendee will contribute one to two sentences to the story in order to receive a sticker for the activity.  The theme of the story will be determined by drawing cards with either one or two sentences that will start and set a context for the rest of the story or by drawing vocabulary words to use.  We are sure to emerge with some very interesting stories created exclusively by our TutorCon attendees!

Poet’s Corner with Nic Contreras

We’ll be using the line-by-line method to create large poems out of separate people’s lines.  One of the themes will be “I Am From…”–giving tutors the opportunity to write the literal, figurative, symbolic, or metaphorical places they come from and to think about how we became the people we are today, what our values are, and who or what experiences have shaped us.  The other theme will be “Writing Is…”–giving us an opportunity to think about how writing works and what it means to us.

Reading and Raffle with John Ramirez

We’ll be reading stories and poems from Story (Col)laboratory and Poet’s Corner and having a raffle with some great prizes!


TutorCon is coming.  Are you game?