The quality of the AERA Annual Meeting depends on education researchers with
appropriate expertise serving as chairs and discussants for paper sessions and as chairs
for roundtables. The portal for Chairs and Discussants to sign up to volunteer for the
2017 Annual Meeting is open and accessible on the AERA website (click on ‘My AERA’ at the top of the screen, after logging in and
then scroll down to 2017 AERA Annual Meeting and click on ‘Online Program Portal’).
Researchers are encouraged to volunteer and provide sufficient information on their
backgrounds and expertise to permit program chairs in divisions and SIGs to create
sessions with persons appropriate to serve in these roles.
Persons interested in serving are encouraged to volunteer early. The portal for
volunteers will remain open until August 31, 2016. After that date, program chairs and
committees will be constituting sessions; chairs and discussants will be identified for
their units’ paper sessions and roundtables.
In volunteering, please keep in mind that the 2017 Annual Meeting will be held
from Thursday, April 27- Monday, May 1 in San Antonio, Texas. Also, please review the
roles and responsibilities of the chair and discussant, as set forth below. Serving as a
chair or discussant is an important substantive role. The quality of sessions is enhanced
by the participation of persons with appropriate substantive background and facilitative
II. Volunteer for Service
When? The system will remain open through 11:59pm Pacific time on August 31,
2016 for volunteering as chair or discussant only.
How? Individuals interested in being considered to serve as chairs or discussants
are encouraged to register as a volunteer for a specific unit (division, SIGs, or
committees) through the AERA 2017 Annual Meeting Online Portal (by clicking on ‘My
AERA’ on the AERA website).
Where? Individuals may serve for more than one unit as a chair and/or discussant.
Keep in mind the participation limits as described in the Call for Submissions: an
individual may not appear as first author on more than two submissions; in addition an
individual may not appear on the program more than four times (e.g., in the role of chair,
discussant, presenter, or participant).
Who? Any attendee may volunteer for consideration to serve as a chair or
discussant. Chairs and discussants need to have substantive background and expertise
appropriate to the substance of the session; thus, please answer the questions relevant to
your background and experience. Graduate students may serve as chairs or discussants as
long as they bring the appropriate level of expertise. All individuals selected as chairs and
discussants are expected to register and attend the Annual Meeting and be present at the
III. Paper Session and Roundtable Session Formats
Paper and roundtable session formats are used by program chairs to group
accepted papers. Formats provide a means for grouping related papers into sessions, with
different opportunities for discussant and audience participation.
Paper Session. Paper sessions must have a chair; discussant(s) are optional.
Chairs and discussants for paper sessions are identified by unit program chairs, co-chairs,
or chairs and program committees. In paper sessions, authors present abbreviated
versions of their papers, followed by comments/critique, if there is a discussant, and
audience discussion. A discussant (or discussants) is to be included as part of a paper
session only if a discussant’s expertise can add to the understanding of the papers. A
typical structure for a session with four or five papers is approximately 5 minutes for the
chair’s introduction to the session, 10 minutes per author presentation, 20 minutes of
critique, and 15 minutes of discussion.
Session chairs may adjust the timing based on the number of presentations and
discussants (where applicable) scheduled for the session. Individuals must be attentive to
the time allocation for presenting their work in paper sessions. In the case of multiple
authored papers, more than one person may present, but multiple presenters are urged to
be attentive to the total time available to them. They should take steps to ensure that
including more than one speaker does not detract from the overall presentation of the
work or infringe on the time allotments for other presentations.
Roundtable Session. Roundtable sessions allow maximum interaction among
presenters and with attendees. Papers accepted for roundtables will be grouped by the
program chair into a table of three to five researchers of accepted papers clustered around
shared interests. Each roundtable at a roundtable session will have a designated chair
knowledgeable about the research area to facilitate interaction and participation. Because
the emphasis is on interaction among authors and attendees, there will be no discussants.
Each roundtable session will be scheduled for a 90-minute time slot. A typical structure
for a roundtable session with four or five papers is approximately 5 minutes for the
chair’s introduction, 10 minutes per paper presentation, and 40 minutes of discussion.
Because of the physical configuration of this type of session, no additional audiovisual
equipment, such as a screen or overhead projector, is provided.
IV. Chair Role and Responsibilities
Chair Role. Chairs are responsible for the overall planning and execution of
sessions to facilitate the sessions’ success. Chairs are expected to orient the audience to
the session and raise issues that can facilitate audience engagement. In some instances,
chairs may also be invited to serve as discussants. While chairs need to be attentive to
time allocations, the role of chair is much more than keeping time.
Chair Responsibilities. Responsibilities fall into three areas – in advance of the
session, at the session and after the session. A session’s success may depend on the
Chair’s ability to limit the time of presentations and temper discussion from the floor to
allow sufficient time for interaction.
In advance of the session, chairs are expected to (1) ensure that all presenters
upload final papers no later than March 31, 2016 (2) read the papers for the session in
order to organize thoughts to effectively introduce and guide the session and (3) contact
any discussants to begin a conversation about shaping the session.
At the session, it is the responsibility of the chairs to (1) open the session at the scheduled time
and orient the audience to the context with a few brief introductory remarks (2) introduce
the participants before their presentations (3) limit time for each presenter and discussant
(4) raise issues that can facilitate audience engagement and moderate panel or floor
discussions (5) adjourn the session in time to allow the room to clear before the next
session begins and (6) be mindful of accessibility of sessions and help AERA cultivate a
universally accessible environment.
In addition, chairs will be asked to encourage attendee participation in an attendee
evaluation should the session be selected as part of the evaluations conducted on a sample
of sessions at the 2017 Annual Meeting.
After the session, chairs are expected to complete an online information form to
provide baseline information about the session.
V. Discussant Role and Responsibilities
Discussant Role. Discussants are responsible for commenting on papers and
presentations to provide professional and constructive criticism and raise issues for
broader consideration that connect to these works. The role of discussant is to serve as
commentator about the papers and issues or substantive points pertaining to these works.
It is expected that the discussant may draw upon his or her expertise or views in
commenting on papers or presentations. The session, however, is not the appropriate
occasion for a discussant to present his or her own work.
Discussant Responsibilities. Responsibilities fall into two areas – in advance of
the session and at the session.
In advance of the session, discussants are expected to (1) read the papers for the
session in order to organize thoughts and prepare comments (2) prepare appropriate
analytical or critical commentaries on the significance and contribution of the papers
presented in the session and (3) connect with the session chair to review the shape of the
session and time constraints on the length of discussion.
At the session, it is the responsibility of the discussants to (1) serve as commentator about the
papers and issues on substantive points pertaining to these works and (2) provide
comments on papers that will assist authors in taking steps toward publication and
minimize the time between presentation and publication - such commentary may include
remarks in the session, comments written directly on the papers, and/or discussions with
View PDF Call for Session Chairs and Discussants here
AERA President Vivian L. Gadsden Discusses the 2017 Annual Meeting Theme