2023 AIR Forum Cleveland, Ohio May 28 – June 2, 2023

Call for Proposals

September 7 – October 9, 2022

Thank you for your interest in submitting a session proposal for the 2023 AIR Forum. The AIR Forum is the annual conference of the Association for Institutional Research (AIR) and provides an opportunity for professionals who collect, analyze, interpret, and communicate data in higher education to learn, connect, and share.

The 2023 AIR Forum will take place May 29 – June 2 at the Cleveland Convention Center in downtown Cleveland, Ohio. All sessions will be presented in person at this venue. There will be no hybrid or virtual options. All presenters must register for AIR Forum, and plan to attend and present in person, in Cleveland.

Presentation formats include pre- and post-conference sessions, impact sessions, speaker sessions, panels, discussion groups, and posters. 

Please see the resources below for information about the proposal process, the review process, and more. 

Begin Submission

Important Dates

September 7, 2022
Call for proposals opens 

October 9, 2022
Proposal submission deadline 

October 2022 – January 2023 
Proposal reviews and session acceptance decisions 

Late January 2023 
Final proposal status notifications sent 

April 14, 2023 
Presenter registration deadline 

April 28, 2023 
Deadline to upload scholarly paper for designation in session listing 

May 30 – June 2, 2023 
AIR Forum 

Concurrent Sessions

Topics help organize sessions into common themes and are based on AIR’s research into the duties and functions of IR. Choose the most appropriate session format and topic for your proposal. 

Topics

  • Assessment and 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 and 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. 

Formats

  • Impact Sessions

    Impact sessions are broad interest sessions, with multiple presenters/perspectives, focused on emerging and important topics and issues with impact for everyone in higher education fields. These key sessions typically kick-off AIR Forum content and provide a venue for addressing opportunities, challenges, updates, and forward-looking insight into topics of broad interest that require an in-depth presentation. Four to six session slots are available for this format. Sessions that are not accepted as impact sessions due to capacity constraints may be accepted as panel or speaker sessions. 

    Impact sessions will be 90 minutes and set up in theater seating. The set-up includes standard audio/visual including a podium, microphone(s), projector, screen, and  projection cable. 

  • Speaker Sessions

    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. Sessions may be led by one to three presenters. At least 10 minutes should be reserved for Q&A. Presentation slides are expected and supplementary materials/handouts summarizing the presentation should be uploaded to the presenter portal at least two weeks prior to AIR Forum. 

    Speaker sessions will be 45 minutes and set up in theater seating. The set-up includes standard audio/visual including a podium, microphone(s), projector, screen, and VGA projection cable. Presenters must supply their own laptop for presentations. Internet access, projector adapters for MACs or mobile devices, and/or U.S. voltage adapters are not provided. 

  • Panel Sessions

    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 a maximum of 4 presenters with an additional option for a moderator. Panelists should have identifiable, unique points of view about the topic. Proposals must identify the presentation structure that will be used to present the multi-perspective discussion session. Supplementary materials/handouts summarizing the presentation should be uploaded to the presenter portal at least two weeks prior to AIR Forum.

    Panel sessions will be 60 minutes and set up in theater style seating. The set-up includes basic audio/visual including a podium, microphone(s), a projector, screen, and one  projection cable. Presenters must supply their own laptop for presentations. Internet access, projector adapters for MACs or mobile devices, and/or U.S. voltage adapters are not provided. 

  • Discussion Groups

    Discussion groups are highly interactive group discussions that focus on research, applications, practice, or topic of interest related to the effective use of data in higher education. The discussion leader(s) briefly presents opening remarks to define the session and set the context. Three to five questions submitted with the session proposal provide the structure for the discussion that follows. The discussion leader role also includes encouraging participants to share their perspectives and providing a summary and closure to the discussion. Discussions may be led by an individual or two co-leaders. Supplementary materials/handouts summarizing the presentation should be uploaded to the presenter portal at least two weeks prior to AIR Forum. 

    Discussion groups will be 45 minutes and set up in individual rooms with semi-circle seating. Because discussion groups are intended to be interactive conversations and not presentations, no audio-visual equipment is provided, however, a flip chart and markers are available upon request. 

  • Poster Sessions

    Posters visually communicate the purpose, research approach, data sources, and outcomes of a scholarly or applied research project study. They efficiently communicate concepts and data to an audience using a combination of visuals and text. 

    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 45” x 45” (half of a 4' x 8' free-standing poster board). To allow for 2 posters per side posters should be no larger than 40” x 40”. Posters should be printed on thin/lightweight poster paper or fabric as heavy materials may be difficult to attach to the display board. Presenters are encouraged to include a QR code for attendees to scan for additional insights as well as contact information for any follow-up questions. Supplementary materials/handouts summarizing the presentation should be uploaded to the presenter portal at least two weeks prior to AIR Forum and may include a short (5 minute) recording summarizing the content linked with other resources via the QR code printed on the poster. 

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, to provide a wide array of content and training, AIR has specific interest in exploration of the topics outlined below. 

Session Topics

  • 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. 
  • 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. 
  • Diversity, Equity, 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. 
  • 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. 
  • 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. 
  • 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). 
  • 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. 

Questions?

Check out frequently asked questions (FAQ) below. Still need help? Send an email to the AIR Forum team at forum@airweb.org

Call for Proposals FAQ

  • Q: How do I submit a proposal?
    A: To submit a proposal, first carefully review the instructions and then proceed to the online submission system.
  • Q: How are proposals selected for acceptance?

    A: Proposals are evaluated by AIR members using a rubric that evaluates session quality and potential draw (interest or 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.   

  • Q: Who reviews submitted proposals?
    A: More than 200 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 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 personal stake or close connection. Reviewers declare conflicts of interest, when they arise, and are reassigned to other proposals. AIR trusts reviewers to decide what constitutes a conflict of interest that would create an unfair review environment and to recuse themselves from evaluating such proposals. 
  • Q: What type of review process is used for evaluating session proposals?

    A: Proposals undergo a half-blind review process, meaning that reviewers are not revealed to the session proposer(s) but session authors are revealed to reviewers. 

    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 proficiency in 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: What is the role of the AIR Forum Program & Strategy Committee?
    A: This volunteer group reviews recommendations holistically for a suitable 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: When do I submit my Affiliated Organization (AO) Best Presentation?
    A: AO Best Presentations are automatically accepted into the program. AO’s will receive a notification at a later date to submit their best presentation for inclusion in the program. These should not be submitted during the regular call for proposals. 
  • Q: When are proposal submitters notified of the selection outcome?
    A: Proposal submitters will be notified of their proposal status (accepted/not accepted) late January 2023.  
  • Q: Do I have to purchase AIR membership to submit a proposal or to present?

    A: No. However, all AIR Forum presenters must be registered and attend the AIR Forum to present. AIR membership is not required, but members do receive a significant discount on the registration fee. You may purchase a membership along with AIR Forum registration.

    Note: Pre-/post-conference workshop presenters do not need to register for the AIR Forum to present.  

  • Q: What is a scholarly paper?

    A: Any session can be designated as a scholarly paper session. To be designated as such in the AIR Forum session listing, a scholarly paper of academic nature must be uploaded via the presenter portal by April 28, 2023. Please note that the criteria to be eligible for the Charles F. Elton Best Paper Award has been revised. 

    High-quality draft versions are acceptable. However, outlines, PowerPoint presentations, or speaking notes are not. Authors retain all copyright to the paper and are free to submit the final version to an academic or practitioner scholarly journal. Scholarly papers are typically 8–30 pages in length and contain research questions, methodologies, literature reviews, and findings (though variations are acceptable). Only .PDF, .DOC, and .DOCX formats can be uploaded. 

    All scholarly papers and authors will be highlighted in a special section of the AIR Forum session listing and on the AIR Forum website if uploaded by the deadline. 

  • Q: Can I edit my proposal after it has been submitted?
    A: Once you submit your proposal you will not be able to make any further changes. To ensure accuracy, we strongly suggest that you select "Save As Draft" and review your proposal before submitting.  
  • Q: Can some presenters on a session present virtually?
    A. No. There will be no virtual or hybrid options for presenters or presentations in 2023. All session presenters must register for AIR Forum, attend, and present in person, in Cleveland. 
  • Q: How is the conference location determined?
    A: Many factors go into choosing a conference location. AIR Forum locations are booked 4–5 years in advance of the conference due to the size and scope of the event, the space required for our many sessions and activities, and the number of hotel rooms needed for our attendees.
  • Q: Who attends the AIR Forum?
    A: Professionals in institutional research, assessment, planning and related higher education fields attend. Each year, about one-third of attendees are at the conference for the first time. AIR Forum attendees represent all higher education sectors, most U.S. states and territories as well international affiliates.