Writing a Conference Proposal…and getting it accepted!

Faculty and staff sometimes do not realize that what they do in their classrooms, advising sessions and programming is unique and worth sharing on a larger stage. Think about how you have developed your craft—it is likely that many of the skills and strategies you employ have been workshop topics at conferences. Presenting and conducting a workshop is an opportunity for you to share your ideas and help others learn new techniques and perspectives on education.

All conferences have a general theme but often accept workshop and presentation topics that are tangentially related. This opens the door for you to present on a variety of topics, but keep in mind that linking your topic to the theme in a concrete way may increase the likelihood of proposal acceptance. Look at previous conferences to see if the topic has been covered in recent years—reviewers often want to see new and innovative ideas.

If you are new to conferences, start here with a basic introduction to writing your proposal.Submitting a conference proposal from Julie Shaw.

Once you have a topic in mind, the conference proposal writing is the next step.

Some things to keep in mind with when writing your proposal

There are many formats for conference sessions—workshops, formal presentations, teaching tips, posters. The length and type of information required in your proposal can vary, too. Each conference proposal process is unique, so read the guidelines carefully. Make sure you are providing the information requested and have included all the relevant details that will make your proposal a success.

Consider teaming up with a colleague for your proposal and potential presentation. Sharing the workload and doubling the ideas can be a smart approach especially if you are new to conferences.  Even if you go it alone, have a second reader for clarity, understanding and proof reading.

Three upcoming conferences to consider:

Check with Judi Greene-Corvee to see if professional development money is available to help cover conference costs which can include registration, materials and travel.

Writing Across the Curriculum

Writing across the curriculum, or WAC, is an approach for teaching college composition that extends the focus of writing beyond the borders of the English Department, where it has been traditionally located, and into other disciplines. This allows students to reinforce the writing skills they learn in dedicated composition courses while studying other subjects. While instructors in other disciplines do not necessarily provide the same type of feedback on writing assignments that composition instructors do, research suggests that integrating writing assignments into curricula can improve student learning as well as overall course success. Furthermore, WAC helps students master discipline-specific writing conventions early in their college career, which can improve their engagement and performance in upper-level classes later on. Read more about the history of WAC and why it is important for today’s students What is WAC?

Integrating WAC theories and practices into your classroom can me relatively easy using the suggestions and ideas provided here: WAC Theory and Practice. Many resources are available online for both instructors and students: Online WAC Resources

WAC Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I already have SO much material to cover in my course. How can I add yet another assignment without causing other course work to suffer?

A: WAC assignments needn’t be complicated or labor-intensive, for students or instructors. WTL assignments can supplement or, in some cases, even substitute for short evaluations such as quizzes. Course material can usually be incorporated quite easily into a no- or low-stakes writing assignment that does not impose an extra grading burden or displace essential curricular elements. Look through the Sample Assignments section for inspiration as well.

Q: I’m not a writing expert – that’s the English Department’s job! How can I be expected to evaluate student writing skills?

A: WAC assignments don’t necessarily involve evaluation of or feedback on writing skills. Instead, many WTL assignments are used as a way for students to reinforce their own learning in a course. For upper-level courses, WTD assignments can be used to reinforce writing skills by making the students responsible for carefully revising and proofreading their own writing.

Q: My course focuses almost entirely on technical/scientific/mathematical content. Where does writing fit in here?

A: Writing well is a fundamental skill that all educated persons need to master; students who plan to go into a technical or scientific career will be expected to write reports, technical documents, and other sorts of texts that articulate something about their work. Including writing assignments on technical material can also help contextualize it within a broader frame for students.

Q: What WAC resources would be available to me if I wanted to start including writing assignments in my curriculum?

A: See the Online Resources tab here for links. There are many well-established WAC programs at excellent institutions across the country, and many of these programs make some materials available online. Look for professional development workshops on campus as well!

WAC Materials submitted by Trevor Kearns, GCC English Department