For our 2014 conference, the Visitors Studies Association invites the informal learning community to join us in creating a conference program that pushes the field of visitor studies forward by addressing the increasing interest in evaluation and the growing demand for evidence. This year, VSA will think strategically about how to continually build capacity for evaluation.
Capacity-building can happen at many levels, from the development of individual skills, to fostering culture and stakeholder knowledge at the institutional or geographic level, to increasing consistency within the field. Discussions of capacity-building may include reflecting on successful—and unsuccessful—past attempts, but also challenge participants to examine the present and explore areas in which the field could grow. We are seeking proposals that explore capacity-building at all levels, including those that suggest next steps for our field to support evaluation efforts across informal learning environments.
This theme and conference offers a place for the traditional discussion of new findings and methods, while also challenging practitioners to take a step back from their individual work and think creatively about how their work fits into the larger conversation. We feel that this is a timely topic that is of critical importance for the future of the field. All perspectives are welcome. We encourage you to think about the following when submitting your proposal:
Questions for the Field:
· What new methods and ways of knowing could increase our individual capacities as researchers?
· How do we build systems to support the process of conducting evaluation?
· How do we build an institutional culture of evaluation, and how can practitioners best support those efforts at every stage of development?
· What can/should we do as a field to standardize our work in the interest of increasing stakeholder understanding, promoting the sharing of research and facilitating the training of those new to the field?
· In what areas do we as a field need to increase our own capacity in order to respond to changes in society, culture, and informal learning?
The Visitor Studies Association is a membership organization dedicated to understanding and enhancing learning experiences in informal settings through research, evaluation, and dialogue. The annual conference of the Visitor Studies Association gathers many of the leading researchers, evaluators, and practitioners in the field of informal learning to examine questions, invigorate discussions, and provide better tools to better understand, attract, educate, and serve visitors.
Each year a theme is selected to concentrate around a particular issue in the field. Session proposals not directly related to the conference theme are welcome from the wide range of fields that study and support informal learning environments, such as psychology, sociology, cognitive science, architecture, evaluation, public policy, and education. To highlight how research and evaluation can be used to improve practice, submissions are also invited from those who apply the results. This includes, but is not limited to, evaluators, educators, interpreters, exhibit designers and developers, marketing professionals, planners, academics, and administrators.
Session proposals that explore issues directly related to the conference theme will be given special consideration, but proposals dealing with other topics of interest to research and evaluation in informal learning environments will also be considered.
Deadline for Submission: Monday, December 16, 2013
Questions? If you have questions or require additional information, please e-mail Program Chairs Linda Wilson and Claire Thoma at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Program Proposal Guidelines
We encourage innovative session formats and the inclusion of substantial audience discussion within sessions. Although we expect that many papers will fit well within traditional formats (e.g., poster session, paper session, panel, or roundtable), please feel free to propose alternative ways to communicate your work. We are especially looking for ways to involve participants through thought-provoking, reflective conversations related to key ideas and issues raised during your session.
This year, we are using an online submission form. Read through the guidelines below; then go to http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/2014AnnualConference to submit your proposal. Please not that special formatting, such as bullets, is not transferred in the online form.
All proposals must include the following:
1. Title: 10 words or less.
2. Program description: Submit a brief session description of 50 words or less. This description will be used for promotional materials and will be the description included in the final program. This description may be edited by Program Chairs.
3. Session format: You must indicate one preferred format from the list below for your proposal. Program Chairs reserve the right to request changes to session format if deemed appropriate. Program Chairs will group and assign individual proposals into full sessions.
i) Poster presentation: Individual presenters provide graphic displays in a large room with other presenters during this 60-90 minute session. This format provides opportunities for informal, one-on-one discussion and interaction.
ii) Individual Project/Paper presentation: An individual presenter will have approximately 15 minutes to present on a single topic, project, or study. Each individual presenter will be grouped with two other individual presenters on similar themes or topics within a 75-minute session. A session chair will be assigned to moderate the session and facilitate audience discussion and Q&A.
iii) Panel presentation/discussion: Panel presentations or forum discussions are conceived as a complete session on a single theme. These sessions include multiple presenters (typically three, although this can vary) examining an issue, specific problem, topic, or theme from a variety of perspectives. While this may include traditional presentations, we encourage presenters to consider alternative techniques that incorporate greater audience engagement, discussion, and interaction on the topic. Sessions will be 75 minutes in length, with presenters reserving sufficient time for audience discussion and Q&A within the session.
iv) Roundtable presentation: An individual presenter facilitates conversation around a key topic or area of interest in the field in roundtable groups with 8-10 participants. In this format, the presenter speaks briefly to frame the topic and devotes most of the time to audience discussion. This format allows participants to brainstorm and discuss potential projects, works in progress, as well as issues and ideas for troubleshooting. Attendees will rotate between 2-3 roundtable conversations happening simultaneously during this 75-minute session.
v) Innovative format: A group presentation presented in an innovative, alternative format-type. Within the proposal, presenters should describe the format proposed, specifying what will take place in this format and how it will further the discussion of the topic. Sessions will be 75 minutes in length.
4. Proposal Narrative: Provide a summary of the content of your presentation.
Word Limit: Proposals should not exceed (excluding references) 750 words for an individual Poster, Individual Project/Paper, or Roundtable Presentation. They should not exceed 1,500 words for Panel Presentation or other group format session. Narratives will not be reviewed beyond the word limit.
a. Frames session in terms of key issues, ideas, or developments within the visitor studies field.
b. Addresses the principles and practices of informal learning environments that informed the project or the context of the project.
c. Explains and describes the research/evaluation design, methodology, sources of evidence, and analysis.
d. Provides results and conclusions of relevance to the visitor studies / informal learning field.
e. Identifies 2-3 relevant discussion questions to elicit audience dialogue about project relevance and implications.
5. Format Description (for Panel Presentations and Innovative Format Sessions):
For panel sessions, indicate the thematic connections among presenters, identify the role that each presenter will play in the session, and how discussion will be facilitated. Innovative formats should describe the proposed format, specifying what will occur during the session and how it will further the discussion of the topic.
Word Limit: descriptions should not exceed 200 words.