2015 Ann Ferren Conference Proposals

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Call for Proposals

The 27th Annual Ann Ferren Conference on Teaching, Research, and Learning will be held on Friday, January 8, 2016. The Center for Teaching, Research & Learning is pleased to invite all faculty and staff to submit session proposals.

Again this year, we will use the new session structure that we introduced last year, with a more diverse set of session types and slightly shorter sessions (45 or 60 minutes), although you now have the option to select a longer, 75-minute, time-slot for two of the session types. Four types of conference sessions are offered: Lecture/Panel Presentations, Teaching and Research Tool Demonstrations, Interactive/Structured Conversation Sessions, and Hands-On Workshops. When you submit a session proposal, you will be asked to choose one of the following four session type formats, and for two of these you will have the choice between two session length options.


Session Types


Lecture/Panel Presentations (60 or 75 minutes)

A formal presentation on any topic related to teaching, research, or learning, by a single presenter or by a panel of presenters. Note: If you choose the 60 minute version, we strongly suggest having no more than 3 panelists, and limiting the presentation to 30 minutes, to allow for at least 30 minutes of discussion and Q&A. If you choose the 75 minute version, it may be more feasible (though not necessary) to have a fourth panelist, or more time for Q&A. Presenters are strongly encouraged to bring handouts and/or provide online resources. (Note that we cannot guarantee that your requested session length will be adopted.)

Examples of topics might be those related to your own teaching and/or research that you think would be of value to your peers. Panel presentations share a similar purpose but with the added benefit of being able to include a variety of perspectives, cases, or examples on the topic.


Teaching and Research Tool Demonstrations (45 minutes)

One or two presenters will demonstrate how to use a concept, method, or strategy that facilitates teaching and/or research. The goal is to provide faculty with new ideas on teaching or research strategies or approaches that they can replicate. We anticipate limited time for discussion and Q&A at these sessions.

Examples of topics which would work well in this format might be designing a mid-term student feedback form; how to use a specific feature of Blackboard; or how to use a specific mobile app to leverage your teaching. We suggest that all demonstration sessions include handouts and/or step-by-step guides for attendees to take with them after the session.


Interactive/Structured Conversations (60 or 75 minutes)

These sessions provide a forum for participants to discuss any topic related to teaching, research, or learning. Sessions are facilitated by a single moderator, who will give a very brief, contextualizing introduction on the topic, of 5-10 minutes, with the majority of the session devoted to discussion. If you anticipate that a longer time for discussion will benefit your session, we suggest that you choose the 75-minute option. (Note that we cannot guarantee that your requested session length will be adopted.)

Examples of topics which would work well for these conversations might be those that provide attendees  with a chance to share and discuss their experiences, their approaches to solving problems, or their new ideas on a specific topic relating to teaching and/or research.


Hands-On Workshops (60 minutes)

These workshops teach hands-on skills that can be used either for teaching or research, and will include an overview of a new skill or technique followed by an opportunity to practice using those skills. Attendees should expect an interactive experience.

Examples of topics which would work well for hands-on workshops might be using Blackboard and other learning management systems; how to use simulations in the classroom; and video-recording your lectures. We suggest that all hands-on workshops include handouts and/or step-by-step guides for attendees to take with them after the session, and that you allow ample time for participants to try out the skill or tool you are teaching.


Important Dates:


Proposals due September 21, 2015
Notification of acceptance November 6, 2015
Registration opens December 1, 2015
Conference date
January 8, 2016

Proposal Guidelines:

Sessions are 45, 60, or 75 minutes long, depending on which format you choose. Please read about the session types before making your choice. In the online session proposal form, you will be asked to provide the following information:

• The names, affiliations, and contact information of all presenters

• The session type you have chosen for your session

• The proposed title of your session

• A 100-150 word abstract describing your session, which should address:
(1) the goal and content of the session; 
(2) who your target audience is; and
(3) what you want your audience to think about, to be challenged by, and/or to do differently in their teaching and/or research as a result of your session. (Note: this abstract will be published on the conference website if your proposal is accepted, so please make sure that it conveys what you would like potential attendees to know about your session, and that the abstract is carefully edited).

• A short description of your session (35-45 words), as you would like it to appear in the printed conference program.


Submit a Proposal:

Session proposals must be submitted online following the template outlined above.

Submit a proposal for the 2016 Ann Ferren Conference


Ideas for Potential Topics:

The following is a list of potential topics as suggested by conference attendees at last year’s conference. Feel free to use this list of session topic ideas as an inspiration for your own proposal: 

Sessions on meeting diverse student needs:
• Working with students with learning differences and disabilities
• Promoting classrooms that acknowledge and encourage intellectual diversity
• How to address the different academic levels that students bring into the classroom
• Techniques for making courses more inclusive to acknowledge differences among students (personality, culture, background, motivation, etc.)
• How to develop learner autonomy
• Understanding student stressors, where they come from, and what faculty can and cannot do to help 

Sessions on classroom techniques:
• Addressing group projects and small group dynamics
• How to encourage participation
• How to engage students in block courses
• Teaching courses for non-majors
• Experiential approaches to "regular" (non-experiential) courses
• Presentation delivery and design
• Experiential Education in the College Classroom 

Sessions on course design and organization:
• How to get started if you are designing a new course or lab from scratch
• Crafting course assignments (choosing effective topics, clarity of explanations)
• Assessment strategies
• Teaching ideas that connect with University Learning Outcomes and/or Gen Ed Learning Outcomes
• Grading written work efficiently, but productively
• Integrating environmental sustainability into your curriculum 

Sessions on instructional technology and online & mobile learning:
• Methods for online simulations
• How to use video in the classroom
• Educational benefits of skill training games and game design principles for educational purposes
• Pros and cons of the growing use of technology in education
• Use of clickers and polling tools Sessions on research and scholarship:
• The rewards and pitfalls of teaching one's own research
• Helping students get published 

Sessions on topics specific to certain academic fields:
• Ways to effectively teach a STEM class
• Teaching foreign languages
• Teaching large science classes
• Teaching techniques to apply to labs 

Sessions on specific groups of faculty or on teaching specific types of students:
• The role of the Adjunct Professor at AU
• Term faculty career advancement
• Teaching leadership
• Teaching graduate students
• Envisioning employment/career opportunities for MA students
• Strategies for teaching assistants You can also read session descriptions from previous years’ conferences by clicking on the corresponding links below:
2015 Session Descriptions
2014 Session Descriptions
2013 Session Descriptions
2012 Session Descriptions

If you have any questions about the Ann Ferren Conference, or about the proposal process, please contact Anna Olsson (aolsson@american.edu or x6077).