September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

Conference Deadline Proposal Approaches! Short Courses due January 31, Workshops March 4

Posted: Friday, January 4th, 2013

by Rick Pomeroy

Have you ever wondered how many workshops are really offered at a California Science Education Conference, or what the grade or subject distribution is? I do. Over the years, I have come to realize that there are a lot of workshops at each conference that I never get to see. In fact, there are things at every conference for people with vastly different teaching assignments than I have that I have never realized even existed. For example, this year at the 2012 conference in San Jose, there was a dedicated short course specifically for primary teachers. Since the majority of my work is with secondary science teachers, I would never have even thought about attending any of those sessions. I also missed most of the biology workshops, not because I have anything against biology but simply because there was something else at those times that I was more interested in.

After ruminating about my lack of knowledge about the overall picture of workshops at this year’s conference, I decided to do a bit of an analysis of what was proposed and what was offered.  Besides my curiosity, I did this as a way of encouraging you to submit workshop proposals for the 2013 conference in Palm Springs. I am hoping that by seeing what was proposed and what was accepted this year, that more members will be interested in submitting their own workshop proposal.

The data for this analysis is the list of submitted proposals. The list includes the subject matter as entered by the proposer, the grade level(s) that the session was targeted for, the subject area, and the results of the blind review (accept, decline, withdrawn). During the submission process, the proposer could select from eight subject areas. In addition, each proposer could select the grade level(s) that the workshop would apply to. Unfortunately, this data is a bit confusing with some proposers picking all grade levels from K-13 while others would select a single grade.

Subject Area Submissions: There were a total of 252 proposals submitted. Of those, 173 were accepted with the results as follows (submitted/accepted): Chemistry (16/14), Earth/Space Science (42/30), Environmental Science (25/18), Integrated Science (14/8), Multidisciplinary Science (75/56), Physical Science (31/20), and Physics (9/5). In an effort to offer a content-balanced conference, it appears that more submissions in the areas of chemistry and physics would help the conference planning committee offer something for every teacher during each of the workshop time slots.

Grade Level Submissions: As stated above, the analysis of submissions by grade level was a bit more difficult. I could have analyzed the number of proposals that listed 1st grade then the number that listed 2nd grade …… but that would have yielded a Mole of data (okay, I may be exaggerating a bit but I put this in to see if anyone is really reading this far) that would have been difficult to make sense of and which would probably not inform the general nature of this article. Instead, I tried to count the number of proposals submitted/accepted at the elementary grade level (PreK-6) the middle/junior high school Level (6-9) and the high school level (9-12).  As I said before, this data was not quite as clean as the subject matter and so I had to categorize some of the proposals into one group or another based on the grades listed by the proposer as well as the trend in the grades. For example, something listed for grades 5,6,7,8 would be counted as middle/junior high school where as something that was listed as K, 1,2,3,4,5 would be counted for elementary. The proposals were counted multiple times to check my assumptions. The results of that analysis (submitted/accepted) are elementary (45/42), middle/junior high school (42/27) high school (42/30) and other where the typical grade span included at least two and in some cases all three grade ranges (123/74). The catch-all grade span made it difficult to categorize and evaluate proposals and may have contributed to the fact that almost 50 of those proposals were not accepted.

What can we learn from this simple analysis?  First, look for those areas that appear to have low numbers of submissions. If you have a good idea in any of those areas, please consider submitting a proposal for the 2013 conference. Likewise, if you want to do something in one of the more heavily impacted subject areas (Earth/Space Science, Multidisciplinary Science) pay special attention to the grade levels that your workshop applies to as well as crafting a proposal that reviewers can’t wait to accept. Finally, when proposing a workshop, try to identify the target audience that you really want to attract. Many attendees will see a workshop listed for grades K-12 and wonder how valuable it can be for my grade level if it covers everyone.

In closing, I encourage you to take some time to craft your proposals so that they are clear on their content and the grade level standards that they address. Pay particular attention, for at least one more year, to the California Standards. We hope that these will be changing, but for now they are the rules we have to play by. Finally, think of something you have to offer that is unique, that you are passionate about, and that you have found to be successful in supporting high quality learning for your students. Take a risk and submit a proposal. If this is your first time, feel free to contact me, or any of your science colleagues for support. The goal of the conference chair and the entire conference committee is to provide you with three days of awesome sessions that you can’t wait to go home and try.

The deadline for Short Course submissions is January 31, 2013 and for workshop submissions March 4, 2013. The conference will be held at the Palm Springs Convention Center, October 25-27, 2013.

 

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Written by Rick Pomeroy

Rick Pomeroy

Rick Pomeroy is science education lecturer/supervisor in the School of Education, University of California Davis and is a past-president of CSTA.

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