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Welcome to MWERA 2016!

Engaging Global Communities through Education, Research, Policy, & Practice
October 26-29, 2016
Hilton Orrington Hotel, Evanston, IL

On behalf of the Board of Directors and Program Committee, I am pleased to welcome you to the 2016 Annual Meeting of the Mid-Western Educational Research Association (MWERA). The conference planning committee has worked hard to put together a program featuring insightful, challenging, and exciting themes for this year. The variety of choice participants have ranges from keynote addresses to invited speakers. Additionally, we have a thought provoking and high quality array of research based papers, workshops, poster sessions, alternative sessions, best practices fora, special events, research in progress, and symposia; all of which went through a rigorous peer-review process. I wish to offer my sincere gratitude to all chairs and co-chairs, reviewers, conference chairs, and discussants who have made this program possible.
The 2016 MWERA conference will bring together various entities within the field of education, such as personnel from P-12; higher education; students; communities; and educational organizations, to discuss and reflect upon the theme: “Engaging Global Communities through Education, Research, Policy, and Practice.”

This theme is present throughout the conference in proposals addressing one of three research areas within the focus area of engagement across education, research, policy and practice.
1) The role of education research in shaping current education policy.
a. Applications of education research already realized in current education policy.
b. Current and future roles of education research in past and future education policy research.
2) Examining impact of education research on K-12, postsecondary education & teacher preparation programs.
a. Utilization of innovative education research in practice.
b. Examining successful and challenging partnerships between the research community and practice.
3) Facilitating dialogue between researchers, policy makers and practitioners.
a. Building a robust research agenda.
b. Real life examples of key collaborations that move the field of education forward.
c. Overcoming challenges in collaborating across and within sectors

Education has been the means to empower, develop, and build the capacities of individuals, institutions, and communities to make them part of mainstream society. Access to equitable and affordable educational opportunities has gradually enhanced opportunities for children and youth, yet we have more work to do. The conference will create the space for us to discuss and share our research, experiences, thoughts, ideas, and work about the theme within the broad context of our educational systems, organizations, and communities. MWERA encourages submissions from a range of intellectual, practical, and activist perspectives to produce meaningful dialogue and disseminate high quality research. The various themes unifying the educational discipline would provide insights into theory, practice, methodology, or field work on contemporary research practices.

There are several events beginning Wednesday evening that are open to all conference attendees, but focus on new and emerging scholars. The conference will start with research in progress presentations in the afternoon on Wednesday, October 26, 2016. Immediately following the conference presentations, Member at Large Dustin Derby, will host a new member welcome session. Members of the editorial team from MWERA’s journal, The Mid-Western Educational Researcher, are hosting a session on an introduction to publishing. Immediately following the MWER session, all conference attendees are invited to attend the Graduate Students and Early Career Scholar reception hosted by the MWERA Board members.

Thursday morning poster sessions and paper sessions will begin on the main conference floor and all are invited to a continental breakfast in the conference foyer. All current Division Chairs are invited to lunch to discuss this year’s conference and offer feedback for future years. Dr. T. Mark Beasley will offer his Presidential Address at 1 pm on Thursday, immediately followed by half of the Division Business Meetings. All those in attendance are invited to the division business meetings to vote on new division leadership and discuss the process for the 2017 conference.
Following the additional paper sessions, best practice forums and workshops, all are invited to the President’s Cracker Barrel Reception.

The final day of the conference begins with paper sessions, best practice forums and workshops on the main conference floor. Members of the Association Council will meet to discuss MWERA outreach and recruitment. The remainder of Division Business Meetings will occur in the morning, with all MWERA participants welcome to attend. Immediately following the Division meetings is the MWERA Business Meeting. MWERA leadership will present reports on this year’s activities. All MWERA members will also have the opportunity to vote on future leadership for MWERA.

Our luncheon keynote address will feature Dr. Jillian Kinzie, Senior Scholar with the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) and the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment. Dr. Kinzie coordinates the NSSE Institute project activities. Her Ph.D. is from Indiana University in higher education with a minor in women's studies. Jillian comes to the NSSE staff from the faculty at IU where she coordinated the master's program in higher education and student affairs from 2000-2002. She has more than a decade of additional experience as a research associate and administrative work in academic and student affairs. Jillian's research interests include college choice, first year student development, teaching and learning in college, access and equity, and women in underrepresented fields. The keynote address will be held on Friday, October 28th, at 12:00 PM. Dr. Kinzie will hold a follow up session immediately after the address to answer questions about using NSSE and NILOA data.

I invite you to participate in this conference to renew and establish friendships as well as enrich your professional knowledge. Please visit with me during the conference if there is anything that I can do to enhance your experience.


Kate Shirley Akers, Ph.D.
MWERA Vice president and Program Chair of 2016 Annual Conference