July 26, 2018

Request for Proposals

Thank you for your interest in sharing your insights and experiences at the Innovations in Teaching & Learning conference at George Mason University. If you have any questions about the conference or the submission process, please contact the Stearns Center for Teaching and Learning at 703-993-6200 or stearns@gmu.edu.

We are no longer accepting proposals; the deadline was Friday, March 8, 2019.

Seeking Volunteers:

Please consider serving as a volunteer at the conference on September 27. If interested, please complete our Volunteer Application.

Dear Colleagues,

We are excited to celebrate our 11th Innovations in Teaching & Learning Conference this year!

For this year’s conference, we invite members of the Mason community to submit proposals for conference sessions focused on the theme of Teaching the Whole Student. Our students have lives and identities beyond our classrooms that influence their learning. How can we provide strategies and resources—and model successful integrative approaches—in order to support students in connecting their curricular, professional, and personal goals? As students prepare for a world that increasingly blurs the boundaries between work and family, between intellectual and emotional successes, how are we supporting them in navigating these complex intersections?

This year, we are seeking session proposals that consider these questions in the context of exploring one or more of these specific subthemes:

Civil Communication and Creating Community
How do you foster a sense of community and belonging in your course? What activities, structures, and norms do you employ to facilitate civil, supportive, and/or inclusive discourse in your class in order for students to learn from and with each other?

This topic often brings to mind issues of student identity (gender, ethnicity, veteran, etc.) and ways to create inclusive learning environments. We welcome your strategies for creating a welcoming environment, establishing classroom norms for navigating difficult or sensitive conversations, increasing the cultural awareness/competency of your students, facilitating productive class discussions and collaborative/team activities, and designing activities in which students develop a sense of belonging and feel their contributions are valued. We also invite you to consider other related aspects of this subtheme, such as supporting student growth around professionalism/professional manners. This could include developing classroom etiquette and networking skills, technology use policies, the art of day-to-day professional writing skills like emails to instructors and classmates, etc.

“School +”
How do you create space for students’ lives and life experiences in the classroom? What strategies do you leverage to keep coursework flexible for students? What support structures do you have in place if a student is struggling?

This topic often evokes ideas of well-being and work-life balance. We welcome your strategies to get to know the needs of your students and how you make your programming, assignments, or class activities flexible for students juggling outside responsibilities that can compete with their academic efforts (family obligations, work schedules, commuting limitations, etc.). We also invite you to consider other issues, such as mental health and bringing personal experiences into the classroom, as important aspects of this subtheme that you might address in your session proposal.

Reducing Barriers to Access
How do you make the “hidden curriculum” of higher education transparent for your students? How do you raise awareness of resources and support available to students as part of your coursework? How do you modify your course materials to increase accessibility (cost, universal design, remote access, etc.)?

You may already be thinking about this topic in terms of supporting specific populations of students: those who are 1st generation, require special accommodations, are experiencing homelessness or food insecurity, have limited finances or internet/technology access, etc. You may also be thinking about this topic in terms of increasing transparency around how learning works and the “hidden curriculum” of the higher education experience from how assignments directions and syllabi are structured to knowing what resources are available for students at Mason. We also invite you to consider other issues such as students feeling invited and safe to participate in class situations, the use of free, online educational materials, and curriculum flexibility as important aspects of this subtheme that you might address in your session proposal.

Self-reflection: Exploration and Self-Discovery
How do you guide students to discover their own beliefs, mindsets, and strengths? How do you support a growth mindset as they work towards their “future selves” and career goals? How do you create opportunities for them to explore and “try on” different roles and experiences?

This topic could include strategies for self-reflection, but could also include opportunities for self-initiated and inquiry-based projects. We also invite you to consider other issues such as preparation and planning for post-graduation (careers, advising, major coordination, Mason Impact experiences, internships, REU’s, entrepreneurship, etc.) as important aspects of this subtheme that you might address in your session proposal.

Note: These subthemes intersect; please feel free to use your proposal to identify ways that different aspects of the “whole student” affect your experiences and recommendations. Please use these as ideas to spark some inspiration–feel free to propose something we haven’t outlined above!

Proposals are being accepted for a variety of session types:

  • 5-minute Scholarship of Teaching & Learning Lightning talks,
  • 15-minute teaching activity showcases,
  • 15-minute traditional presentations,
  • 40 or 90-minute panel/roundtable discussions,
  • 40 or 90-minute interactive mini-workshops, and
  • poster session.

We especially encourage proposals that address technology-enhanced strategies and tools, teaching in active learning classrooms, designing for engaged learning, strategies for working with international/multilingual students, inquiry- and research-based courses, mentoring/advising, experiential/community-based learning, supporting student writing/communication/teamwork skills, and strategies for incorporating mindfulness and well-being into learning. We also encourage sessions that focus on these teaching practices: time and classroom management tactics, strategies for fostering teaching conversations and collaborations within your department, and the mechanics of how to conduct research on your teaching: sharing your teaching strategies beyond your classroom to a broader community through the scholarship of teaching and learning.

Looking for session ideas? Explore our conference proceedings archive to find some inspiration from all of our past conference sessions.

If you’d like to talk to someone about your ideas before submitting a proposal, please send us an email or call 703-993-6200 to schedule a time to talk with someone about your ideas.

In addition to session proposals, the Stearns Center will be organizing a few special panel sessions on frequently-requested topics. If you’d like to be considered as an invited panelist for these special sessions (topics to be announced later), please submit a brief statement of interest through the proposal form or through the Panelist Application.

Proposals and statements of interest in serving on an invited panel are due by Friday, March 8, 2019. For details on proposal format, please scroll down the page below to the session details. We look forward to hearing from you!


Laura Lukes, PhD
2019 ITL Conference Director
Stearns Center for Teaching and Learning

Learn more about session formats, selection criteria and FAQs below!