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Transforming STEM Education: Inquiry, Innovation, Inclusion, and Evidence

Network for Academic Renewal Conference
October 31 – November 2, 2013
San Diego, California

Call for Proposals

Deadline:  Thursday, April 11, 2013

The AAC&U and PKAL are pleased to announce their Call for Proposals for the 2013 conference Transforming STEM Education: Inquiry, Innovation, Inclusion, and Evidence.  This national convening of leading academic and STEM professionals will showcase evidence-based practices that are poised for immediate adaptation in a wide range of institutional types, including community colleges and minority-serving institutions.  Of particular interest will be proposals that effectively integrate two or more of the conference themes.

Conference Themes
LEAP Featured Sessions
Session Formats
Developing and Submitting a Proposal
Proposal Review Criteria
Additional Information

Programmatic Themes

Theme I:   Advancing Integrative and Problem-Centered STEM Learning 
This theme will include presentations and sessions that describe innovative and multidisciplinary approaches related to improving undergraduate STEM learning for both STEM and non-STEM majors.  Particular emphasis will be placed on the strategic integration of STEM content and the complexities of real world problems.  Proposals featuring research and/or practices from any STEM discipline (including the social sciences) and that include and apply valid quantitative, qualitative, and/or mixed methods and measures of student learning are welcomed.  Proposals addressing broader institutional change efforts also are encouraged. 

Examples include, but are not limited to, projects that:

  • are innovative and use multidisciplinary approaches to teaching, learning, and assessing STEM undergraduate education;
  • strategically involve big questions and grand challenges in the undergraduate STEM curriculum;
  • emphasize methods that uniquely target underrepresented groups;  
  • integrate technology and novel learning environments into advanced STEM curricula; and
  • demonstrate that online STEM learning is effective.

Theme II:  Supporting Underrepresented Student Achievement and Reversing the Talent Loss in STEM Fields
This theme will include presentations and sessions that highlight theory-driven and evidence-based models and innovations designed for the recruitment, retention, and persistence of students from underrepresented groups in STEM disciplines.  Special emphasis is placed on initiatives that are readily transferable across various institutional types.  Proposals featuring research and/or practices from any STEM discipline (including the social sciences) and that include and apply valid quantitative, qualitative, and/or mixed methods and measures to the assessment of underrepresented student achievement in STEM are welcomed.  Proposals addressing broader institutional change efforts also are highly encouraged. 

Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • explorations of the underlying issues affecting the differential participation and graduation rates of underrepresented groups in STEM undergraduate education;
  • innovative strategies for enhancing STEM pedagogy and persistence of underrepresented students in STEM; and
  • institutional collaborative models that have significant impact on increasing underrepresented student success in STEM.

Theme III:  Supporting and Scaling Faculty Leadership and Innovation
This track will feature practical strategies to support faculty innovation and leadership—both in the classroom and in departments and programs.  Special emphasis will be placed on efforts that enable faculty to overcome institutional barriers to implementing teaching innovations.  Faculty development initiatives that are easily transferable to a diverse group of faculty and/or diverse institutions of higher education will be emphasized.  Proposals that describe the impact of interventions on the professional and/or leadership development of faculty from any STEM discipline (including the social sciences) using valid quantitative and qualitative tests and measures of scholarly productivity, career advancement, and institutional change are highly encouraged. 

Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • strategies for connecting STEM innovation with relevant institutional change agendas (e.g., underrepresented student success, general education reform, assessment, stakeholder support for innovation and change);
  • strategies for aligning faculty reward with STEM teaching excellence;
  • efforts to build STEM faculty communities of scholars and practitioners that cross disciplinary and institutional boundaries; and
  • innovative faculty development programs that significantly improve career advancement for diverse faculty.

LEAP Featured Sessions

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 LEAPCampus 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’sLiberal Education and America’s Promise(LEAP) initiative.

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

Session Formats


Posters share visual models of curricula, programs, courses, student services as well as strategies, processes, and other practices.  At Network for Academic Renewal conferences, the poster session provides an opportunity to reach a broad audience and initiate conversations with colleagues with similar interests.  Posters are displayed on a 6’x3’ table, which can also be used to display models, a laptop, or other items.

Concurrent Session (60 minutes)

Concurrent sessions are designed to share current work—in research, theory, or practice—related to the conference themes.  The Call for Proposals asks for information on the outcomes participants can expect from their participation, the content of the session, and the plan for participant engagement.  Concurrent sessions may be organized as panel discussions, analysis of research protocols and findings, or discussion, to give a few examples.  Participants consistently request that sessions engage their thinking to make the work being presented relevant to their own situations and useful upon return to campus.

Concurrent Workshop(90 minutes)

Workshops provide an opportunity for facilitators to significantly engage participants in applying an effective model, practice, or strategy to their own specific campus work.  Workshops should begin with a brief framing of the topic and an overview of intended activities and goals for the session.  Facilitators should provide data/findings related to the topic, milestones for success, common challenges, practical examples, and engage participants in activities related to the session topic.

HEDs Up (60 minutes)

HEDs Up is a format in the model of “TED Talks” – the Technology, Entertainment, and Design conference that limits each speaker to 15 minutes. The presentation should focus on an innovative model, pedagogy, practice, rubric, strategy, or “the next big idea” – about STEM education in college. HEDs Up presentations should be provocative, challenging, and above all, interesting. AAC&U will combine your talk with two others to create a moderated 60 minute session.

Developing and Submitting a Proposal

Proposals are accepted through an online form and must include:

  • Name, title, institution, and email address of each facilitator
  • Session theme and format (HYPERLINKS)
  • Session title (100 character limit)
  • Brief abstract to be used in the conference program if accepted(150 words)
  • Statement of intended audience (100 word limit)
  • Participant outcomes (100 word limit)
  • Plan for participant engagement (150 word limit, not required for poster proposals)
  • Background and description of work (150 word limit)

Proposal Review Criteria

AAC&U and PKAL strive to offer a balanced, informative, and thought-provoking conference that best fits within the framework of undergraduate STEM education reform, and both empowers and emboldens STEM academicians to dramatically impact the quality of STEM education in the U.S.  The conference proposal selection committee will include experienced, diverse academic STEM professionals.  In evaluating conference proposals, reviewers will be asked to consider both the technical aspects of the proposal and the way in which the presentation/session will contribute to reforming undergraduate STEM education.  The following elements will be considered in the review of conference proposals:

  • potential for the proposed session/presentation to advance our knowledge and understanding of STEM undergraduate education;
  • extent to which the session/presentation offers creative, novel, and transformative mechanisms for promoting and enhancing STEM learning, particularly for diverse audiences;
  • extent to which the proposed session/presentation effectively incorporates two or more of the conference themes;
  • overall contribution of the session/presentation to inclusive excellence;
  • ease by which conference session/presentation materials and outcomes can be adapted to a wide range of institutional types.

Additional Information

The deadline for proposal submission is Thursday, April 11, 2013.

 Upon submission of a proposal, the session contact should receive an automatic message indicating that we have received the proposal.  If the contact does not receive this message (and it is not in his/her spam filter), please e-mail Siah Annand at 

The session contact will be sent (via email) notification of the decision on the proposal by Friday, May 3.

Expenses and Fees
All session facilitators are responsible for conference registration fees, travel, and hotel expenses. Please be sure all individuals listed in the proposal have this information and can be available to present throughout the event. Presentation times range from Thursday, October 31 at 8:30 p.m.  through Saturday, November 2 at 12:00 noon.

AAC&U Sponsorship Program
Proposals that promote products or services available for purchase will not be considered through the regular proposal process, but will be referred to AAC&U’s Sponsorship Program.

More information about sponsorships is available by writing