Membership Programs Meetings Publications LEAP Press Room About AAC&U
Association of American Colleges and Universities
Search Web Site
Resources on:
Liberal Education
General Education
Student Success
Institutional Change
Civic Engagement
Global Learning
Science & Health
Connect with AACU:
Join Our Email List
RSS Feed
Follow us on Twitter
LEAP Toolkit
Support AACU
Online Giving Form

General Education and Assessment:
New Contexts, New Cultures

February 23-25, 2012
New Orleans, Louisiana

Call for Proposals

The deadline for proposal submission has passed.  If you submitted a proposal, you will receive notification about the status of your proposal by mid-July.  Questions may be directed to Siah Annand at

Conference Themes
Writing a Strong Proposal
Session Formats
Become a LEAP Featured Session
How to Submit a Proposal
Dates to Remember

General Education and Assessment: New Contexts, New Cultures invites proposals that focus on general education reform, curriculum design, implementation, and meaningful assessment. Essential approaches to strengthening a culture of support for general education include collaborations among academic affairs-student affairs educators, contingent and full time faculty, professional programs and arts and sciences faculty, 2-year and 4-year institutions, and K-12 and higher education. 

As demands for flexibility and a willingness to change throughout higher education are heard, general education and assessment must likewise evolve and change.  The world is being transformed by forces that demand interdisciplinarity, systems-level thinking, and the ability to work across cultures to apply learning to new situations.  Thus, efforts to create and strengthen an intentional culture of support for general education and assessment, involving diverse members both from within and outside of the Academy, will be instrumental to sustaining vibrant and effective general education programs in the future.

We invite faculty from all disciplines and fields, campus leaders of general education reform or assessment efforts, student affairs educators, academic administrators, and educational partners from across the K-16 system to join us in exploring general education and assessment as we address the profound changes, challenges, and opportunities of our time.

Conference themes include: 

  • Changing Students: Demographic Trends and General Education
  • Building Cultures of Faculty Engagement: Institutional Strategies
  • Building Cultures of Assessment: Improving Student Learning
  • Engaging Real-World Problems: General Education for a Global Century

The questions that follow each track are suggestive and are not meant to cover the full range of topics that can be proposed under each.

Changing Students: Demographic Trends and General Education

This theme focuses attention on how our general education curricula are developed and implemented to address the ever-changing characteristics of entering students.  Proposals might highlight issues related to:  articulations between 2-year and 4-year programs; the ‘swirl’ of transfer students in our institutions resulting in the transfer of many general education credits; the increasing number of students entering our colleges and universities with AP credits resulting in high school courses being given general education credit; the influx of veteran populations in our universities; the rise of the female and the disappearing male on college campuses; the increasing population of international students on our campuses; the general preparedness of students for the demands of higher education; or the demands for accelerated and efficient degree programs with career foci. This theme invites institutions with specialized foci or missions to share their unique approaches to designing general education for these new contexts.

  • How are campuses intentionally and coherently re-conceiving general education to reflect institutional mission, new student populations, and connection to work and life in the 21st century?
  • How are campuses with large transfer or “swirling” student populations weaving these students into integrative or sequenced general education programs?
  • How are state systems and 2-year and 4-year institutions partnering to design general education models that span multiple institutions?
  • What creative solutions have been developed to address the lack of coherence in K-16 education?  How are No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, or other government mandates influencing students’ preparedness for their general education programs, and what are institutions doing to address students’ preparedness for general education curricula?
  • What innovative pedagogies might be brought to bear with the new demographic of students?  How are campuses designing general education to advance students’ sense of self-authorship and agency for learning and the common good? How are students’ technology literacies leveraged in general education and how can institutions help faculty keep pace with their students in this regard?

Building Cultures of Faculty Engagement: Institutional Strategies

Faculty members in every type of institution share a common stake in the quality and outcomes of the general education that their students experience – more than any other aspect of their teaching endeavors.  This theme addresses how campuses are generating faculty interest in and engagement with envisioning and advancing a new campus culture that values general education and teaching as intentional and coherent parts of the undergraduate experience.  It seeks proposals that demonstrate how institutions are facilitating sharing by faculty within and across institutions of effective strategies for learning in general education.

  • What strategies have proven effective in meaningfully engaging faculty – junior faculty, tenured mid-career faculty, senior faculty, or adjunct faculty – in general education reform and teaching?
  • How are Centers for Teaching and Learning supporting and empowering faculty innovation and creative contributions to general education? 
  • What are some innovative faculty professional development strategies that help to prepare faculty to teach to the broad array of general education learning outcomes (e.g., critical thinking, personal and social responsibility, writing) and to use “high-impact’ practices (e.g., civic engagement, first year experiences, global learning)?
  • What are some promising strategies to meaningfully engage faculty in both the assessment of students’ general education learning and in the ongoing revision of the curriculum resulting from these assessments?
  • How are faculty members being encouraged and supported to work with student affairs educators in sharing responsibility for student learning and development?

Building Cultures of Assessment: Improving Student Learning

Far too many credit-based courses and articulation systems are failing to accurately acknowledge and document student learning.  Given the nature in which students move from campus to campus throughout the undergraduate years, how can higher education rethink these structures to design assessment mechanisms that provide evidence of student learning and inform faculty innovations in classroom practices?  This theme invites proposals to demonstrate the innovative ways in which campuses, faculty, and students are assessing and recording student achievement throughout each stage of their general education.

  • What are ‘best practices’ employed by campuses to effectively “close the loop,” and guide curricular and co-curricular improvements and alignment?
  • How are e-portfolios being used to document learning in general education and advance a holistic understanding of student achievement?
  • How are campuses ensuring that students who enter with transfer or AP credits have reached desired levels of learning before moving on to more sophisticated or specialized courses?  How are particularly challenging student learning outcomes, such as those related to civic knowledge and engagement or intercultural knowledge and competence, being assessed?
  • What mechanisms for communicating both goals and outcomes of general education programs are being effectively used with various constituents (e.g., students, accreditors, legislators, parents, etc.)?
  • How are campuses assessing the ability of students to integrate learning from different institutions, across general education and the major, and among curricular and cocurricular experiences?

Engaging Real-World Problems: General Education for a Global Century

Students come to college hoping to change the world.  What opportunities do they have to test such hopes in practice?  And when they graduate, will they know how to do it?  Most colleges and universities have a wealth of global expertise, yet they struggle to translate that knowledge into practices that align general education curricula with expectations for educating all students to thrive in a global economy and become socially responsible and civically engaged leaders at home and abroad.  General education, by focusing on complex problems that require interdisciplinary approaches and integrative skills, can bring the sciences, social sciences, humanities, and arts together to better prepare graduates for a global century.

  • How are campuses articulating the value of global learning to students, faculty, and key external groups such as parents or legislators? How are they incorporating questions of scientific literacy, diversity, and democratic engagement into global learning?
  • What models exist that move problem-based, thematic topics to the very center of the general education experience?
  • Technology and social media have contributed to dramatic political movements in the Middle East.  How are they changing our conception of global learning?  
  • What kinds of faculty development practices are successfully bridging disciplinary expertise and multidisciplinary global issues?
  • How are colleges and universities tapping the resources of the new student demographic to broaden definitions and practices of global learning in general education?

Writing a Strong Proposal

Your proposal should consist of a session title, a brief abstract (150 words), and a longer session description (600 words) accompanied by presenter names, titles, and institutional/organizational affiliations. The proposal should be clear and concise and your session title should accurately reflect the session content and theme which you have selected from one above.

Experts in the field and AAC&U staff will review all proposals and make final selections by mid July. Reviewers will look favorably upon proposals that:

  • highlight practical models and/or proven strategies along with effective processes for applying the work to a range of institution types or campus roles;
  • reflect sound theory or research and their proven contributions to student learning and success;
  • include findings from evaluation and assessment and ways to use the information to improve teaching and learning; and
  • model engaged and active learning and provide concrete take-aways that participants should expect from the session.


  • Include facilitators who bring diverse perspectives and life experiences to the topic your proposal addresses. AAC&U is committed to presenting conferences where sessions and the communities of participants reflect the diversity of our campuses.
  • Show how your session will be interactive. AAC&U Network conferences strive to engage participants in reflection, question and answer discussion, and strategic planning activities during sessions. Please do not plan to read a paper.
  • Provide a clear sense of how your session will unfold and be prepared to discuss lessons learned and effective approaches for overcoming challenges along the way. Show and tell submissions with little or no applicability to other institutions will not be considered.
  • Present work that has proven effective and reflects mature visions or models for change.  

Session Formats

There are four session formats from which to choose: (1) Hands-On Workshop, (2) Promising Practices/Rubric Analysis, (3) Poster Demonstration, and (4) Facilitated Discussion.  Please select the format that will advance participants’ understanding and potential use of your work.

Format 1: Hands-On Workshop (90 minutes; 2-3 facilitators; room set in round tables)

Workshops provide an opportunity for the facilitators to significantly engage participants in active learning about the session topic. Workshops should begin with a brief framing of the topic and an overview of intended activities and goals for the session. Facilitators should introduce one or more models or strategies that have proved effective and provide data/findings related to the topic, benchmarks for success, common challenges, and practical examples that enhance participants’ learning. Facilitators should specifically take participants through one or more relevant exercises or activities (including in small groups) that will help them to move their own efforts forward upon returning to campus.

If the workshop is better suited to a particular type of institution e.g., community college or research university or level of expertise e.g., novice, intermediate, advanced, please make that clear.

Format 2: Promising Practices/Rubrics Analysis (75 minutes; 2-3 facilitators; room set in round tables)

This format should allow for (a) 15-20 minutes for facilitators to describe the promising practice, rubric, or other innovation; (b) 35-40 minutes to work through practical applications of this work (e.g., to participant’s own work or cross campus integration); and (c) 15-20 minutes for general participant questions-and-answers.  Promising practices should describe the vision, outcomes, challenges, and concrete examples and strategies for effecting change.  Data, findings, and applications should be presented in ways that are accessible to participants and allow them to discuss implications.  Rubric-focused proposals should briefly describe the tool, how it can be used, strategies for implementation and plans for using the data for assessing its effectiveness and advancing student learning.

If the session is better suited to a particular department, program, discipline or level of expertise (novice, intermediate, advanced), please make that clear.

Format 3: Poster Sessions (60 minutes; 1-2 facilitators; 6’x3’ skirted table; internet access, electrical outlet, and other supports as available, upon request)

Poster sessions lend themselves well to combining visual displays of key information with written materials and small group interaction to create a more individualized learning experience. These sessions provide an opportunity for you to share your work with the full conference audience, and they are a valuable way to initiate conversations with colleagues with similar interests. These sessions can include 3’x 4’ boards to display charts, diagrams, pictures, and/or graphs that depict program components, findings, samples of student work, participant testimony, and so on. You may also wish to present information through technological means or other types of visual displays that can be set-up on the 6’x3’ table provided.

NOTE: Our ability to provide technical assistance is limited, but if you have a project for which you need such assistance, we are happy to explore options with you. Poster boards are provided upon request.

Format 4: Facilitated Discussions (60 minutes; 1-2 facilitators; room set in round tables; no audio-visual)

Facilitated discussions provide time for colleagues to share expertise and experiences on a topic of similar interest. They provide a valuable opportunity to network and reflect upon ideas, challenges, and possible solutions in a slightly more informal setting. The facilitator briefly presents information on a topic related to one of the conference themes and assists the group in examining issues of concern and new ways of thinking about the topic. She/he can then pose or invite a question to stimulate and focus the conversation so that others can share their own experiences using the particular practice or strategy.

Become a LEAP Featured Session

Conference sessions designated as “LEAP Featured Sessions” are intended to highlight the innovative work of colleges and universities that are members of AAC&U’s LEAP Campus Action Network (CAN). Featured Sessions make explicit links between campus-based educational reform and the essential learning outcomes, principles of excellence, and high-impact practices described in AAC&U’s Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP) initiative.

For more information on applying to have your conference session designated as a LEAP Featured Session, visit

Submitting a Proposal

The deadline for proposal submission is June 1, 2011. Please direct any questions to Siah Annand at


Upon submission of your proposal, you should receive an automatic message indicating that we have received your proposal. If you do not receive this message, please e-mail Siah Annand at to confirm that we have received your proposal.


You will receive notification about the status of your proposal by mid July, 2011.

Registration Fees

All session facilitators at the conference are responsible for the appropriate conference registration fees, travel, and hotel expenses. Please be sure all individuals in your proposal have this information and can be available to present at any time throughout the event. Presentation times range from Thursday, February 23, 2012 beginning at 8:00 p.m. through Saturday, February 25 at 12:00 noon.

Resources for Attendees of Your Session

Conference participants appreciate receiving materials that help them prepare in advance for sessions and implement new ideas when they return to campus. To encourage active participation in sessions, we strongly encourage facilitators to provide links to online resources and advanced readings in their proposal or as soon as they become available before the conference. We will include these links in the preliminary program when it is posted online. After the conference, all presenters will be asked to provide additional electronic resources that will be posted on the conference Web site.

Final Reminders

Please complete all fields in the submission form including title and contact information for all additional facilitators.

Include links to supplemental materials, if available.

Please remember that by submitting a proposal, you agree to:

  • Register and pay conference fees if the proposal is accepted; and
  • Inform your co-facilitators about the proposal’s status and the need for all facilitators to pay the conference registration fees and be available throughout the event to present your work as scheduled.

Dates to Remember

  • June 1, 2011 Proposals due to AAC&U
  • Mid-July, 2011 Proposal acceptance notification