Personal Application Essay

  1. Individual Paper: Personal Application Essays (PAE) on a Team Experience
    A Personal Application Essay (PAE) is an analytical paper that requires applying course concepts to an
    experience (past or on-going). The purpose of the paper is to show you how OB theory and concepts can be
    helpful to your leadership practice. Another purpose is to advance the quality of your critical thinking skills
    AND your ability to look at problems from multiple perspectives.
    In the paper, you will demonstrate your ability to apply course theory and concepts to an experience you have
    had in order to: (1) learn more fully from the experience, and (2) create a strategy for what you should do to
    increase or replicate your effectiveness in similar situations in the future

The purpose of this paper is for you to show me you have fully learned a few course concepts/theories and can
apply them to your previous experiences. To do that – you’ll have to come up with an experience you can
analyze more deeply than ever before by looking at it through the lens of a course theory or concepts. In other
words, the theory is first and foremost. Your job is to teach me the theory and how it can be applied in your
situation. In graduate level courses, students learn best by becoming the teacher. Teaching demonstrates mastery
of the material. How would you explain this theory to someone (me or others)?
One way to think about writing this paper is to assume you are “taking yourself around” the points of Kolb’s
Experiential Learning Cycle, which we will discuss in our first class when you completed the
Learning Style

Another way to think about it is that you are examining a situation to more fully understand it (and
yourself) in order to identify ways to change your thinking and behavior for greater effectiveness in similar
future situations. Writing enables you to consciously assess behaviors, strategies and skills. It is a useful tool to
for learning.
Ways to Get Started
Select a recent experience related to working in a team about which you are motivated to learn more by applying
concepts we have read about or discussed in class. There should be something about this experience that you do
not completely understand, that intrigues you, that makes you realize you lack certain skills, that is problematic
or very significant for you or that was successful without your knowing why.
Some people find it easiest to identify an experience and then “go hunting” in the readings for applicable
concepts. Others select interesting concepts and readings and then “hunt” for experiences to analyze. Both
methods work! You are welcome to use any course readings we’ve already read, anything else in our textbook,
or any other readings from the course. You will have plenty of material to discuss using required course
Analysis and Paper Format
Address these questions as you reflect on the experience. Note: Address these questions before you attempt to
write the paper. To write a good paper, it will take more than one draft before your “new thinking” emerges.

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Concrete Experience (approximately ½ a page).
describe the experience or interaction
That is, describe “who,” “what,” “when,” “where,” and “how.”
perception of what
happened and other thoughts or feelings that occurred
(not after) the experience. Provide enough
detail that I can interpret the experience independently – but do your best to keep it only ½ a page,
because you will need space for the next three sections.
Reflective Observation (approximately ½ a page).
Look at the experience from the different points
of view (perceptions, feelings, thoughts) of the key actors — including you
. Take the perspective of each
of the key parties. Ask yourself, why did I have those feelings or reactions? Why do I think that
feelings or reactions? Were my own reactions new to me or similar to past experiences?
What are the important factors in this experience? Some students have found it difficult to describe the
feelings and thoughts of the other actors in the situation. Do your best. Accuracy is not necessary. What
is required is for you to empathize with these people and “stand in their shoes.” You are allowed to
guess what they were thinking and feeling. Your willingness and ability to do this is an important part of
your grade for this paper. (10% of grade)
© 2019 UNH Paul College
Abstract Conceptualization (approximately 1 ½ or 2 pages).
This is the concept or theory
description and application section of your paper. It is the most important section of the paper (see
grading criteria for this section below). Interpret the experience through the lens of theories (or
concepts attached to theories) that we have read or discussed in class. How can the theories and
concepts help you identify the CAUSES of the problem (or the success) in a new way? Explain enough
of the theory in your own words that I am convinced that you fully understand it (i.e., devote 2-3
sentences to a description of the theory you are using). The best way to do this is to write as if you are
teaching me the theory. It is important that you demonstrate that you understand the details in the theory
I want to see that you have mastered the theory. Teach it to me. Convince me that you understand it.
Apply that detail to better understand the causes of the problem (or the successes). Be detailed within
the 4-page length constraint of this paper. You may find yourself choosing between breadth and depth. I
strongly recommend depth.
Do not quote the readings
. State things in your own words. Convince me
that you understand the theory and how it can be applied to the situation. Use detail and examples from
the experience to convince me that the theory you have chosen applies to your situation. Sometime this
involves providing quotes from people in the experience you are describing – do your best to remember
them) or descriptions of parts of the situation not explained in section one. That is fine. Use two or three
theories at the most. Based on your analysis of the theory and explanation of this situation, you should
have a new and fuller understanding of what occurred. (60% of grade)
Active Experimentation (approximately 1 page).
What did you learn from your reflection in section 2
and from the theory you applied (in section 3) that can help you identify specific actions to take next
time you are in a similar situation? What did you learn about yourself as an actor in situations like this?
What specific ways of thinking and acting are suggested by the course concepts you found relevant?
Identify several
concrete and specific
actions you will take in the future when you are in similar
situations. Think of this as an “action plan” for the future. Be very specific. (30% of grade)

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