The following represent the session types offered at Evaluation 2003 and the submission guidelines offered to session proposers. 


DEBATE: Two or three debaters should hold clearly differing points of view. The interaction should be moderated by a chairperson with a prepared set of questions. Half of the formal 90-minute presentation should be devoted to response to audience questions. The abstract should identify the topic, why the topic is of interest to evaluators, and the contrasting positions of the debaters.


What does a debate look like? Although there is no mandated format, here is what a debate may look like if you were to see one at Evaluation 2003: The chair welcomes the audience, provides a brief overview of the topic, and introduces the debaters. Each debater is then given a few minutes to speak about his or her general stance on the topic at hand. The chair poses pre-set questions or takes questions from the audience, giving each debater an opportunity to respond. Finally, the debaters are each given time at the end of the session to summarize and recap their stance. Some debates will include visual aids, usually in the form of overhead transparencies and an overhead and screen are provided in each room in which a debate is held. (Please see audio-visual equipment note at the end of this page.)

DEMONSTRATION: A formal 45- or 90-minute classroom-style demonstration of a useful evaluation concept or tool that will provide an intellectual awareness and understanding, but not necessarily a hands-on opportunity (as contrasted with a Skill Building Workshop). The abstract should describe how the presenter will walk attendees through a clear, step-by-step explanation of the concept or tool, how it compares to other evaluation concepts or tools, its strengths and weaknesses, and how it can best be applied. 

What does a demonstration look like? Demonstrations may take many forms, but if you were to attend one at Evaluation 2003 you would likely encounter either one or a small group of facilitators walking you through how to use a new method or tool in your daily practice. Most demonstrations will include handouts for you to take with you and use after the session. Presenters tend to employ overhead transparencies to illuminate key points and an overhead and screen are provided in each room in which a demonstration is held. (Please see audio-visual equipment note at the end of this page.)

EXPERT LECTURE: A formal 45-minute presentation by an acknowledged expert in the field who will share conceptual or methodological innovations through a lecture followed by response to audience questions. The abstract should detail both the background of the lecturer as well as the importance of the material to be presented.

What does an expert lecture look like? At the beginning of an expert lecture the session chair will welcome the audience and provide a brief introduction for the lecturer. The lecturer will then speak on a given topic, usually for the majority of the session. Occasionally, a respondent or discussant will be present who will be given an opportunity to speak following the lecture. The amount of time allocated to audience questions varies greatly depending on the speaker and topic. Most lectures will include overhead transparencies that illustrate key points and an overhead and screen are provided in each room in which an expert lecture is held. (Please see audio-visual equipment note at the end of this page.)

MULTIPAPER: See paper sessions. 

PANEL: This formal, thematic, 45- or 90-minute presentation focuses on an issue facing the field of evaluation. The overall abstract should outline how two (for a 45-minute panel), or three or four (for a 90-minute panel), panelists and possibly a discussant will offer coordinated presentations and the general topic of the panel. In addition, the proposal must contain separate abstracts or summaries from each presenter describing his or her contribution to the session. The submitter is responsible for coordinating the presentations in advance. Panels should be interactive in that they allow for questions and discussion following the formal presentations.

What does a panel look like? A panel opens with the chair introducing the panelists and the topic. Some panels are highly structured with a set time for each panelist to speak. Others employ a more discussion-oriented format with the panelists responding to each other and to audience inquiries throughout the session. Many panels employ a discussant as an independent expert observer who listens to each presentation and then responds briefly to the session's content. Most panels end with an opportunity for attendees to raise questions or offer their own observations on what has been presented. Some panelists will employ transparencies to illustrate their key points and an overhead and screen are provided in each room in which a panel is scheduled. (Please see audio-visual equipment note at the end of this page.)

PAPER: Paper presentations may be submitted either individually using the paper proposal submission form or as a pre-defined group of 2-4 papers using the multipaper submission form. These formal oral presentation are 15 minutes in length of a completed paper. Papers submitted individually on a common theme will be grouped to create integrated multipaper sessions. Multipaper sessions submitted intact will be reviewed as a set and the full set will be accepted or rejected together. All multipaper sessions will include time for questions following the presentations. Individual paper abstracts should detail the focus of the paper and the way(s) in which it contributes to the body of knowledge in the field of evaluation.

What does a multipaper session look like? Multipaper sessions include from 2 (in a 45-minute session) or 3-4 (in a 90-minute session) paper presentations. A chair will welcome the audience and coordinate the session including keeping time throughout. Each paper presenter will have approximately 15 minutes to discuss the key points of his or her work. Although a presenter may opt to take questions during this time, at the end of the initial 15 minutes the presenter will be asked to cede the floor to the next presenter. Once all presenters have had the opportunity to speak, a discussant may provide a brief response to what he or she has heard. The chair will then facilitate a question-and-answer period during which audience questions are invited. Paper presenters should have either a full-paper or a synopsis available for distribution during the session. Most will offer an email address through which you may obtain an electronic copy of the full paper. Paper presenters usually supplement their presentations with overhead transparencies illustrating their key points - an overhead and screen are provided in each room in which paper presentations are held. (Please see audio-visual equipment note at the end of this page.)

POSTER: This formal graphic presentation of your topic, displayed on poster board, offers an excellent opportunity for gathering detailed feedback on your work and reporting on evaluation results. Posters will be presented during Thursday's very well attended evening reception. Posters should NOT be used to advertise a product or service. Like a paper, the abstract should detail the focus of the paper and the way(s) in which it contributes to the body of knowledge in the field of evaluation.  

What does a poster session look like? All posters are presented during the poster exhibition and reception on Thursday evening. Posters are presented on white presentation boards set on tables throughout the room. Poster presenters stand beside their posters and discuss their work one-on-one or in small groups with attendees. Appetizers are served and there is an open bar during the event. Most attendees wander through the posters, stopping to review or discuss those that pique their interest. Many poster presenters supplement their posters with a handout that summarizes their work and provides contact information. (Please see audio-visual equipment note at the end of this page.)

ROUNDTABLE: A 45-minute oral presentation and discussion seated around a table in a group setting. Roundtable presentations typically include 15 minutes of presentation, followed by 30 minutes of discussion and feedback. Roundtable presenters should bring targeted questions to pose to others at the table in order to learn from and with those attending. Roundtables are an ideal format for networking and in-depth discussion on a particular topic. The abstract should detail the focus of the presentation and the way(s) in which it contributes to the body of knowledge in the field of evaluation.

What does a roundtable session look like? When you walk into a roundtable room you will find 6-8 round tables with 8-10 chairs at each spread throughout the space. Each table has a letter on it that corresponds to the letter assigned to each presentation in the program. As an attendee, you can choose which one of the 6-8 roundtable presentations you wish to attend - they will be going on simultaneously. The chair for the roundtable session will assist both attendees and presenters in finding tables as needed. When the session begins, the presenters each offer their presentation to those seated at their table. Each presenter is in charge of his or her 45-minute presentation, but most will include an extended discussion component with ample time for questions. Some roundtable sessions are scheduled into 90-minute sessions. These will include two rotations of presentations, each 45-minutes in length. Roundtables do not have traditional audio-visual aids available, but most roundtable presenters bring handouts illustrating their work. 

SKILL-BUILDING WORKSHOP: During a 45- or 90-minute session, workshops teach a specific skill needed by many evaluators and include one or more exercises that let attendees practice using this skill. The abstract should include a detailed discussion of why this skill is important, how the presenter will teach the skill within a short time frame, and how the presenter will enable attendees to learn more after the session. This session differs from a Demonstration in that attendees will have a hands-on opportunity to practice the skill.

What does a skill-building workshop look like? Workshops may take many forms but each will include an overview of a new skill or technique followed by an opportunity for hands-on practice by those attending. Examples of hands-on practice might include: role-playing, working through an analysis with sample data, or creating a short presentation illustrating key concepts. Attendees should be ready to get involved as these sessions are not passive, but rather active opportunities for learning. Most workshops include take-home materials for use and reference post-conference. Presenters regularly incorporate transparencies illustrating key points of their content and an overhead and screen are provided in each room in which a skill-building workshop is offered. (Please see audio-visual equipment note at the end of this page.)

THINK TANK: A 45- or 90-minute session focusing on a single issue or question. Initially, a chairperson orients attendees to the issue or question and relevant context. Then, attendees break into small groups to explore the issue or question and finally reconvene to share their enhanced understanding through a discussion facilitated by the chairperson. The abstract should succinctly identify the question or issue to be addressed, the relevant contextual factors, and the roles of the individual breakout groups (Will they each address the overall topic or question? A particular facet of the topic or question? Or examine the topic or question from a particular viewpoint?).

What does a think tank look like? A chair will welcome attendees to the think tank and will frame the key question that is at the heart of the session. Sometimes, this will be supplemented by very short presentations by other facilitators describing different aspects of the issue at hand. The heart of the session involves breaking up into discussion groups to explore the issue. Sometimes, all of the discussion groups will focus on a single poignant question. Other times, each group may grapple with an aspect of the issue under investigation. If the overall group is small, the central discussion may take place among the group as a whole. In any case, the discussion is facilitated - either by a designated facilitator at each table or by a one or more facilitators guiding the whole group. As the session winds down, the group reconvenes or refocuses with an eye toward identifying what has been learned or next steps in an action-based process. Some think tanks incorporate overhead transparencies to illustrate key points or raise specific questions. An overhead and screen are provided in each room in which think tanks are scheduled. (Please see audio-visual equipment note at the end of this page.)

AUDIO-VISUAL EQUIPMENT: Please note that an overhead and screen (for traditional transparencies) are provided free of charge in each room in which presentations are scheduled with the exception of roundtables and posters. There is no audio-visual equipment used at roundtables. Specialized poster-boards and pins are provided for poster presenters. ALL other audio-visual equipment, other than that being brought in by the presenter, must be special-ordered through the AEA office and the rental cost will be charged to the presenter. This includes LCD projectors, flip-charts, computers, and/or VCR players. These may be ordered as part of the proposal process (there is a question about A/V on the proposal submission form), or by contacting Heidi in the AEA office at least 14 days prior to the conference ( or 888-232-2275 or 508-748-3326). The fees noted on the proposal submission form will in almost all cases be lower (and will never be higher) than those extended to presenters ordering AV after proposal submission.