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Creating Stronger AECT Convention Proposals
Suggestions from the
Program Planning Committee

Many organizations’ annual conventions are highly competitive and one needs to submit a strong proposal in order to get onto the program. AECT sets a high expectation for the quality of our convention program. Acceptance rates vary from year to year but clearly the proposal process has become much more competitive in recent years across all categories: posters, roundtables, workshops, and concurrent sessions.

But what makes a strong proposal? That is, what appeals to reviewers and program planners? What do they look for and how can you develop the strongest proposal possible?

Here, we offer 15 principles (in no particular order) and each principle is followed by specific tips to strengthen your proposal. We include tips about both style and substance, including how to make your proposal more visually appealing. While some of these tips will require a little bit of technical know-how (like how to insert HTML codes in the online proposal submission form), you can implement most of these principles with little additional effort.

Principle 1: A strong proposal is one that matches the Call for Proposals and is well matched to program initiatives and themes.
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Principle 2: : Proposals that comply with the stated submission requirements are much more likely to be accepted.
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Principle 3: Reviewers tend to infer that the properties of the proposal will be the properties of the presenter or presentation.
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Principle 4: A strong proposal has few errors and looks polished and professional.
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Principle 5: Strong proposals have the potential to interest more people.
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Principle 6: A strong proposal is well organized and logical.
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Principle 7: Strong proposals use proper English expression and grammar.
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Principle 8: Proposals that make a real contribution are more appealing than ones that do not.
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Principle 9: A strong proposal is well-informed.
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Principle 10: Strong proposals make clear what their objectives are.
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Sometimes when reviewers finish reading a proposal, they scratch their heads and say, “What exactly is this proposer hoping to accomplish?” You never want your reviewers to have to ask this question. It begins the rapid slide to recommended rejection. Instead, make sure you state somewhere in your proposal exactly what you hope to accomplish in the session.

Given that sessions are for attendees—not for you—we suggest you emphasize what attendees will get out of the session and why it would be valuable to them. Don’t be vague. Avoid phrases like, “Attendees will leave better informed about design practices” or “Attendees will understand the demands of No Child Left Behind.” Instead say something like, “Attending instructional designers will know how to implement seven specific audience analysis techniques that enhance online lesson effectiveness” or “Teacher educators who attend the session will learn five ways professional development school can tie preservice teacher training to increased AYP reports for participating schools.”

The more specific you are about the intent and desired outcome of the session and the better a job you do of convincing the reviewer that your desired outcome matters, the more likely you are to get a favorable reception from reviewers. The better proposals always provide this information and year after year they make it onto the program.

Principle 11: A proposal submitted to the proper division is more likely to be accepted.
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Principle 12: A strong proposal describes what will occur during the presentation.
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Principle 13:: Research studies in progress are less likely to be accepted
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Principle 14: A proposal that chooses the right delivery format and requests the appropriate amount of time is more likely to be accepted than one that does not.
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Principle 15:: Deadlines matter.
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Final Comments


Clearly we do not wish to impair your creativity, nor restrict your freedom. Our goal is to build a strong convention program. A strong convention program supports and enhances the strength of the organization. But we recognize that a strong program begins with strong proposals. We hope this guide helps you produce the strongest proposal you can and that you make it onto the convention program. Please respect the volunteer reviewers’ and planners’ time. The more closely you follow these guidelines and clearly aid the reviewers in understanding your proposal, the better your chances for acceptance.