AEA19 This Year - Who Is Planning To Go and What Are Your Pro Tips?


I know we have a while to go but the AEA Conference is always a high-point of my year. Last year I couldn’t go for the first time in years and I promised myself I would never skip it again. Over the years I’ve noticed my time at the conference has been less attending sessions and more informal networking. Have others seen the same trend in their attendance?
What do you find most valuable? What do you wish you could tell yourself when you were a new attendee?


I most likely will be at the conference this year. For sure if my proposals get accepted. It will be good to be back after a couple year break. I also find myself spending less time in sessions and more time just chatting with old friends.

One tip for newbies, try to find a TIG that reflects your interests and find out what other not-in-the-program events they are holding.



I will be there! I’m excited; I’ll be an hour drive to the conference!!!

I also find myself attending fewer sessions and just networking. I wish there was more built in time to network during the conference, but I’m also getting a little pickier when choosing sessions, so sometimes it’s easy to just skip one. I also know a ton of people at the conference and we sometimes try to coordinate what sessions to go to so we’re not all at the same one (because then one person could just take notes). Also, #EvalTwitter really helps out by sharing the knowledge live, and people who share their resources on the AEA website are also really helpful.

I think my biggest tip for getting the most out of AEA is to look through the program early and often. Find the TIGs that resonate most with you and filter through those sessions specifically, but also consider just flipping through the entire book because you never know what unique session will catch your eye. I’m sorry to say I usually skip the plenary sessions only because I know they are recorded and I can watch them later; when they’re early in the morning it’s a good chance to sleep in! My other big tip for this conference is to stay at the conference hotel. If you can save yourself some time with commuting to the conference, it’s so helpful given how long the conference days are. I’ve always bunked with 3 other people to cut down costs but maximize sleep and networking.


I’m planning to be at the conference. One thing I’d like to do more of is meet with the people I’ve been following for a while on social media, but for the most part, I spend my time in sessions than on actual networking.

Some of my top tips have already been shared, but I’d like to highlight identifying the type of session you want to be in, the skill you want to build, and the associated TIG.

I tend to gravitate towards demonstrations versus panels or papers. Really, sessions that have something tangible I can walk away with. In the past, I’ve focused more on the Independent Consulting, MIE, Youth, and Program Design TIGs.

I’m also going to take Dana’s advice and stay at the conference hotel.


Never too early to get excited about a good conference! I’m about 90% sure I’ll be there. I too have gradually traded in some session-going for social time as years go by.

I’ve been to a handful of eval conferences, but last year was my first AEA. With how jam-packed sessions are (lunch breaks? who needs lunch breaks?), it can totally be worth it to replace some concurrent session timeslots with networking. At least that’s what I’ll be doing in the future. Also, AEA is such a big conference that it’s worth coordinating some meet-ups with people you want to see. I imagined I’d just bump into everyone sooner or later…but I ended last year’s conference without even seeing some folks!


I am so excited about the Qual TIG program that we have just turned in. Can’t wait until it becomes public.


Hello, this is very handy to read everyone’s suggestions. I’ll be at AEA2019 for the first time, coming from Australia. Our Australia/NZ evaluation conferences are around 700 people, so I’ll be lost among the thousands. The program is enormous, so I’m glad of the suggestion of finding relevant TIGs to link with. I look forward to meeting some of you there.


I personally haven’t loved the TIGs. There are TOO many of them & it’s been difficult to find one that fits my needs.

My tip - attend some of the PD workshops. Great way to expand knowledge/learn something new.



That’s a good point, @lraphael. There are a ton of TIGs, some of which seem to overlap considerably. I think there is a TIG council trying to work on this, but it’s difficult work.

I will say that some organizations are much worse, though. AERA has 12 large divisions (each with multiple sub-divisions) and then over 150 SIGs (much like our TIGs). Huge!