The personal application assignment is based on Kolb’s model (1971) of experiential learning. The use of this model can help solve the problem of performance assessment. The model argues that learning occurs through a process which might begin with a concrete experience, which leads to reflective observation about the experience. Abstract conceptualization follows in which models, paradigms, strategies, and metaphors are applied to the results of the experience. Active experimentation concludes the cycle as the concepts are then put into practice, thus generating new concrete experience.
Choosing a good topic is essential. Select an experience that relates to the assigned course topics. It should be an experience that you would like to understand better, (e.g. there was something about it that you do not totally understand, that intrigues you, that made you realize that you lacked certain managerial skills, or that was problematical or significant for you.) The topic must be meaty enough to take it through the entire learning cycle. I recommend identifying your “plot” and then outlining the paper across all four elements to see if this topic will work. The incident does not have to be work related; an incident in any setting (sport teams, school, family, club, church, etc.) that relates to the course topics is acceptable.
Elements of the PAA
- Concrete experience (5 points) – in this section the student describes what happened in the experience. It possesses an objective and a subjective component. The feelings experienced by the student as well as his or her thoughts and perceptions during the experience are important to set the context. Helpful hints: (1) Replay the experience in your mind, then write a report of what you saw, heard, felt, thought as well as what others were doing. (2) Avoid detailed mechanics of the experience unless they are critical to the paper. (3) Avoid reporting the feelings and thoughts experienced after the experience being described.
- Reflective Observation (5points) – Ask yourself, what did I observe in the experience and what possible meanings could these observations have? The key here is to gather as many observations as possible by observing the experience from different points of view. This is called perspective taking or what some people call “re-framing.” You can include how others viewed the situation, however don’t ask them now. Would a neutral observer have seen or heard anything else? Look beneath the surface and try to explain why the people involved behaved the way they did. Reflect on these observations to discover the personal meaning that the situation had for you. Helpful hints: (1) Discuss the experience with others to gain their views and clarify your perceptions. (2) Unhook yourself from the experience and meditate about it in a relaxed atmosphere. Mull over your observations until their personal meaning comes clear to you. Try to figure out why people, and you in particular, behaved as they did. What can you learn about yourself, looking back on the experience?
- Abstract Conceptualization (5 points) – by relating assigned readings and lectures to what you experienced, you are demonstrating your ability to understand conceptually abstract material through your experience. Use at least two concepts or theories from the course readings. Provide the source for each reference in the following manner (George & Jones, pg. 157). This is also a place where you can insert your own personally developed theories if they help you in making sense of the experience. First, briefly describe the concept or theory as you would for someone who was not familiar with it. Next, apply the concept thoroughly to your experience. The tie-in should include the specific details of how the theory relates to and provides insight into your experience. Does the experience support or refute the theory? Avoid merely providing a book report of what you read. Helpful hints: (1) It is sometimes useful to identify theoretical concepts first and then search out and elaborate on an experience that relates to these concepts. (2) A slightly more difficult approach is to reverse the above procedure and search out those concepts that apply to your “raw” experience.
- Active Experimentation (5 points) – this section of the paper should summarize both the practical lessons you have learned from this experience and the action steps you plan to work on. Begin this section with a paragraph on the lessons you have learned and identify them as lessons for the reader. Next, please present four action steps that will increase your future effectiveness. These actions should relate back to the previous sections of the paper. You can state them in the form of guidelines as to how you would act differently or detailed resolutions you could take to develop or practice. Be specific and thorough. Don’t just repeat tips from the book. Include one action that is based upon new knowledge that you gained about yourself as a result of writing this paper. If you were to relive this situation what would you do differently next time? Helpful hints: (1) Project a future experience in which you envision the implementation of your ideas and then elaborate on that experience as a way of demonstrating how your actions will be carried out. (2) Where does this situation exist in your life? Do you need a support system to make it happen? How will you obtain the cooperation of others? (3) Try to imagine the final results of your experimentations.
This paper should be minimum 2, maximum 4 pages in length, double spaced with no more than 1 page for each section. Check for spelling and grammar. Assignment worth 20 points.
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