Call for Proposals


Call for Proposals is Closed for the 2020 AIR Forum 

Thank you to those who submitted a proposal for the 2020 AIR Forum. Our review process will take place October 2019 – January 2020. Final proposal status notifications were sent in January 2020.

About the Review Process

More than 300 AIR members volunteered to evaluate AIR Forum session proposals using a standard rubric. Each proposal received a minimum of five reviews to achieve a draw and quality score. Proposals were accepted based upon these scores, space availability, and the overall mix of the content for the conference program. 

AIR Forum Concurrent Sessions

Concurrent Session Topics

  • Assessment & Evaluation
    This topic area features initiatives, research, and methods at program and institutional levels that are externally or internally driven for planning, accreditation, or other in pursuit of improved and equitable student and institutional success.
  • Data & Technology
    This topic area features the technical and ethical aspects of provision and manipulation of data as well as the application of appropriate analytic tools for decision support, including collection and structuring, methods, predictive models, and machine learning. 
  • Decision Support

    This topic area features the recognition of stakeholders with: 

    • Attention to equity, 
    • Identification of their information, data, and analysis needs, and 
    • Determination of effective and ethical approaches to meeting those needs in support of student and institutional success; including interpretation, contextualization, reporting, and communication. 
  • Educating Stakeholders
    This topic area features efforts to coach and collaborate with stakeholders on the ethical/contextual production and use of data for decision making. Also included are approaches to research and scholarship that both inform and advance the work of professionals in the field.
  • Leadership
    This topic area features visioning, strategy, governance, and management at the organizational, unit, or program levels. As well as career planning and development. 
  • Policy
    This topic area features the development, evolution, implementation, and impact of policy at institutional, system, federal, state, or local levels.

Concurrent Session Formats

  • Speaker Sessions

    45-minute session with one to three presenters.

    Speaker Sessions present research, share applications, practices, or topics of interest related to the effective use of data, analytics, information, and evidence for decision making that benefit students and institutions. Room Set-up and Technology: Speaker Sessions will be set up in theater style seating with standard audio/visual including: Materials Table, Podium, Microphone, Projector, Screen, and VGA/HDMI projection cable. Internet access, beyond conference Wi-Fi is not provided, and presenters must bring a laptop. 

  • Panel Sessions
    60-minute session with three to five presenters. 
    Panel Sessions include multiple perspectives about an application, practice, or topic of interest related to the effective use of data in higher education. Panels are composed of three to five presenters with one member serving as a moderator. Panelists should represent different functions within a college (e.g., IR, IT, finance), or presenters from different organizations, and always have identifiable, unique points of view about the topic. Room Set-up and Technology: Panel Session will be set up in theater style seating with standard audio/visual including: Materials Table, Podium, Panelist Table, Table Microphones, Projector, Screen, and VGA/HDMI projection cable. Internet access, beyond conference Wi-Fi, is not provided, and presenters must bring a laptop.
  • Discussion Groups
    45-minute session with one or two leaders. 
    Discussion Groups are highly interactive group discussions that focus on research, applications, practice, or topics of interest related to the effective use of data in higher education. The discussion leader (presenter) briefly presents opening remarks to define the topic and set the context. Three to five questions submitted with the session proposal provide the structure for the discussion that follows. The discussion leader's role also includes encouraging participants to share their perspectives and provision of a summary and closure to the discussion. Room Set-up and Technology: Discussion Groups will be scheduled in a room set up with semi-circle chairs with a presenter table at the front. A flip chart and markers are available upon request. No A/V, laptop, projector, or internet access is provided or available. 
  • Poster Sessions
    Visual display, with one 60-minute Q&A session, one to three presenters. 
    Poster Presentations visually communicate the purpose, research approach, data sources, and outcomes of a scholarly or applied research project/study. Posters are displayed in the Exhibit Hall with presenters available for a 60-minute question and answer period. Each poster is allotted an area approximately 4' x 4' (half of a 4' x 8' board). The poster display boards and push pins are provided by AIR. Posters will be scheduled at a pre-assigned board in or near the Exhibit Hall. Audio/visual support, Internet access, and a materials table is not provided or available. 
  • Micro Sessions
    7-minute session, within a 45-minute block of sessions, with one presenter.  

    These highly engaging 7-minute sessions take place in our new expo theaters located in the Exhibit Hall (AV provided). Micro sessions are designed for one or two presenters, and each presentation should consist of a maximum of five slides. A staff moderator will monitor time to keep sessions on track. Micro sessions are designed to present software tips and solutions, succinct summaries of ideas or research projects, or share information central to a niche audience. Micro sessions are also a great way for new speakers to gain experience with conference speaking. Room Set-up and Technology: Micro Sessions will be set-up in expo theaters, located in the Exhibit Hall, with theater style seating for 40 with standard audio/visual including: Laptop, Materials Table, Podium, Microphone, Projector, Screen, and VGA/HDMI projection cable. Internet access, beyond conference Wi-Fi is not provided, and presenters must bring a laptop. 

Pre-/Post-Conference Sessions

To meet the needs of different audiences, some pre-/post-conference sessions are tool-based, and others are primarily value-based or theory-based. Also, in order to provide a wide array of content and training, AIR has specific interest in exploration of the topics outlined below.

Pre-/Post-Conference Session Topics

  • Leadership and Management
    The organization of data functions vary across institutions, and key leadership and management principles set the foundation for successful enterprises. This topic addresses the knowledge, skills, resources, and training needed to effectively manage an office, unit, or project to ensure it meets institutional needs (e.g., hiring and supervising staff, mentoring/training, resource management, budgeting, space allocation). 
  • Institutional Effectiveness
    A student-focused paradigm requires the integration of institutional effectiveness and operations. This topic explores the roles of IR, IE, and Assessment in leading institutional data strategies and strategic planning to improve student success.
  • Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
    Commitment to student success requires attention to equity, diversity, and inclusion in all aspects of the institutional enterprise, including the data function. This topic considers the roles of IR, IE, and Assessment in efforts to ensure that equity, diversity, and inclusion are prioritized in data-informed decision cultures.
  • Data Models
    Robust data functions that support data-informed decision cultures are more than the sums of their parts. This topic explores the essential considerations, leadership requirements, design challenges, and structures necessary for the creation of data models that facilitate achievement of the institution’s mission and goals. 
  • Use of Data
    We know the use of data is essential in pursuit of improved student success. Yet each institution varies in its needs and levels of sophistication. This topic considers the “how” of data use (e.g., advanced analytics, software, governance), the why of data use (e.g., goals, ethics), and the theoretical (e.g., is IR/IE/Assessment the same as or different from data science?) with attention to institutional and student contexts. 
  • Effective Communication of Data
    A data-informed decision culture relies on compelling presentations of data that engage and inform stakeholders. This topic explores theoretical and ethical considerations and best practices, including the creation of visualizations, report writing, and the varied approaches needed to reach different audiences. 
  • Data Literacy
    Cultivation of a data-informed decision culture requires strategies to increase data literacy, capacity, and use among stakeholders. This topic focuses on ways to build data literacy across the institution and expand decision support capacity.

Important Dates

SEPT 18,
Call for proposals open
OCT 16,
Proposal submission deadline 
Proposal reviews
Final decision notifications sent
MAR 20,

Presenter registration deadline to be included in session listing

Scholarly paper upload deadline to be included in session listing
MAY 25-29,
AIR Forum 

Call for Proposals FAQ

  • Q: Who reviews submitted proposals?

    A: More than 300 AIR members read, evaluate, and comment on proposals each year. Each proposal receives a minimum of five reviews. Reviewers are recruited and selected through an annual call for volunteers. Reviewers must have attended a prior AIR Forum and experienced firsthand the quality and range of sessions offered at the AIR Forum. Reviewers use a standard rubric to rate each type of proposal.

  • Q: Are there ever conflicts of interest between reviewers and authors?
    A: Reviewers are randomly assigned to specific proposals and so there is the potential for a reviewer to be assigned a proposal in which he/she has a vested interest or close connection. Reviewers declare conflicts of interest, when they arise, and are reassigned to other proposals. AIR trusts reviewers to determine what constitutes a conflict of interest that would create an unfair review environment and to recuse themselves from evaluating such proposals.
  • Q: Why are proposals reviewed using a half-blind process?

    A: This process ensures that reviewers are not revealed to the session proposers. Session authors, however, are revealed to reviewers. The half-blind review process was implemented in 2012 as part of a series of efforts to improve the consistency of quality sessions at the AIR Forum.  

    A successful concurrent session requires great content and organization, as well as a presenter who has the background and experience to handle the topic. The half-blind review allows presenters to share their backgrounds, affiliations, and any other evidence of their expertise with reviewers. Often, it is critical to know that a presenter has access to data or technologies. The half-blind review puts all presenters on a level playing field to build the case for their expertise.  

    Why does AIR use a full-blind review for publications and a half-blind review for AIR Forum sessions? When reviewing a print manuscript, the full evidence of the author’s mastery of the topic is evident in the document itself. Reviewers have the actual product to review. In AIR Forum session reviews, however, there is only a brief description and “promise” of what will be delivered. The presenter’s capacity to fulfill the promise is legitimately part of the selection process. 

  • Q: How are proposals selected for acceptance?
    A: Proposals are evaluated by AIR members using a rubric that includes ratings from session quality and potential popularity. Proposals are then ranked based on reviewer ratings. Because there are usually more high-quality proposals than space available, additional screening is required to reduce the number of sessions and balance the overall program in terms of topics and sector representation. It is unfortunate, but space limitations usually mean that some high-quality sessions are not accepted. Approximately 150 of the anticipated 400 speaker session proposals are accepted.
  • Q: What is the role of the AIR Forum Program Committee?
    A: This six-member volunteer group reviews the accepted sessions holistically for an appropriate mix of topics across the program and breaks ties between proposal scores as needed. This committee is advisory to the Executive Office on all aspects of assuring that the educational program at the AIR Forum meets the needs of members and maximizes the learning for our attendees.
  • Q: What happens when a session is not accepted?
    A: Presentations that are not accepted in the first round of reviews may be invited to resubmit in a different format for a second review. Discussion groups and poster presentations are highly respected, highly valued educational offerings at the AIR Forum and can be selected for a second-round proposal. (Note: Not all proposals are invited to resubmit in a different format.) Re-submissions must adhere to the guidelines for the format for which they are being resubmitted (i.e. posters must be a visual display of data and do not include AV; discussion groups must have 3-5 questions listed to guide the discussion and do not include AV.) 
Visit the FAQ page for more answers to your AIR Forum related questions. 


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