Planning and writing your rationale essay fall 2013

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Planning & Writing Your Rationale Essay
Rationale Essay? Are you unsure of how to begin and what to include?
Designing your own degree plan is difficult; writing about that plan is even harder. Thinking about your degree plan as your resume & the rationale essay as your cover letter is the approach we take in this workshop that will introduce you to the steps & strategies necessary to complete the most unique piece of writing that you will do at ESC .

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Planning and writing your rationale essay fall 2013

  1. 1. How to Organize & Write Your Rationale Essay
  2. 2. Workshop Description “Rationale: (n.) A statement of reasons.” (OED) • Your rationale essay is unique. Few, if any, colleges require such a document from students. • It is very different than other types of college writing. It is a personal statement of your goals, the research you’ve done about related learning opportunities and your explanation of your degree program. • Think of it as the cover letter to explain your résumé (degree plan) and how your experiences (credits) best meet the requirements of the job (Area of Study Guidelines and Gen Ed). • This workshop will help you organize your ideas and begin writing/refining your rationale essay.
  3. 3. What is the purpose of the rationale essay? • To explain the reasons for the design of your degree plan. • To show that you can effectively communicate to others that you understand the design of your degree plan. • To explain why you think your degree program will provide you with a sound educational experience. • To show how your degree plan will help you meet your educational and professional goals.
  4. 4. Purpose of rationale continued... • To show that you have understood and met the Area of Study guidelines. • To show that you have understood and met the Concentration guidelines. • To demonstrate that your degree program has depth and breadth. • To explain any concerns your degree plan might raise (i.e. overlap).
  5. 5. When do you write your rationale essay? • The last assignment of Educational Planning. • When you have completed your degree plan.
  6. 6. How to Organize Your Rationale • Introduction – a statement of your goals, degree plan. • 3 most important sections: 1. Area of Study Guidelines 2. Concentration Guidelines 3. General Learning • Conclusion – a summary of your learning experience and its value to you and your goals. Label the sections clearly in your essay. Your essay should be well organized and easy to read.
  7. 7. I - Introduction It’s appropriate to describe in your introduction: • The Area of Study and Concentration your degree represents. • Your personal, professional and academic goals. • The research you’ve done to develop your degree plan.
  8. 8. What does “research” mean? Research includes any resources you consulted to help you create your degree: • Your mentor, other faculty members in relevant areas of study, the AOS guidelines. • Other college curriculums/catalogs. • Experts in the field, current and future employers, professional organizations, journals, graduate school admission offices, etc.
  9. 9. II - Area of Study Guidelines • Using your Student Degree Planning Guide show how you met each component of your area of study. • Don’t just make a list, but briefly describe how you’ve met each component with a specific study, prior learning assessments, or credit by examination.
  10. 10. III - Concentration Guidelines • Again using the Student Degree Planning Guide discuss how your degree meets the concentration guidelines: the skills and knowledge someone with your degree should have. • Specifically point out what courses or PLAs meet the various components of the guidelines. If you are currently working in the field, you may refer to your job, but be careful not to simply describe what you do.
  11. 11. III - Concentration guidelines continued • If there are no concentration guidelines for your concentration, you must clearly explain what skills and knowledge someone in this field should possess and point out how your degree plan will allow you to develop them. • You may want to point out the progression of your learning in your concentration.
  12. 12. What is “depth?” • Depth refers mostly to your concentration and the upper level studies you’ve taken that have helped you develop a deeper understanding of your subject area. • You might point out that you developed a good foundation with lower level studies and went on (or plan to) take more advanced studies to increase your knowledge.
  13. 13. IV - General Learning (General Education Requirements) • Point out the depth and breadth of learning in your degree. • Make a statement about why you find it valuable to be broadly educated. • Point out that you have met the general education requirements and discuss your learning from 2-3 general education studies. Important: When the title of a course from a non-SUNY school is designated as meeting a SUNY general education guideline but has an ambiguous title, please make sure to include a discussion of the course content and an explanation of how it meets the general education criteria.
  14. 14. What is “breadth?” • Breadth refers to the how many different kinds of studies are represented on your degree plan: it shows how broadly educated you will be as a result of your degree. • In your discussion of breadth include how and why the studies outside your concentration are valuable to you.
  15. 15. V -Conclusion • In your concluding paragraph you might reflect on the meaning/value your education and this degree has for you.
  16. 16. What happens with the rationale essay during the review process? • Three faculty review your degree plan and supporting materials; they carefully read your essay and refer to your rationale during the portfolio discussion for answers that may arise during the review. • Your rationale therefore needs to be clearly written, in terms that faculty outside of your particular field of study will understand.
  17. 17. Important considerations • Make sure you answer any questions in your essay that might come up, such as why some credit that should be clearly present (i.e. to meet an AOS Guideline) in your degree plan might be embedded in a course or prior learning. • If you have an unusual degree for which there are no concentration guidelines, the burden is on you to make sure the committee understands your degree.
  18. 18. Some rational rationale advice • Compare your DP with your rationale essay and check to make sure that your AOS and concentration titles match, that all the courses or PLA topics you mention in the essay are in fact on your degree plan. • Use headings for the various sections of your essay. • Make sure you have your name on the essay and number the pages. • Expect to write several drafts of the essay—so give yourself the necessary time. • It helps to date your drafts!
  19. 19. Some rational rationale advice continued… • It’s important that your essay is well-written and carefully proofread. In part you are demonstrating the quality of your thinking and writing (thus your education) in this essay. • Your mentor must read and approve your essay before it is submitted to the Assessment Office.
  20. 20. Handouts
  21. 21. A sample outline for your rationale: Introduction and Discussion of Degree Plan Design - statement of degree (AOS & concentration) - statement of goals - definition/explanation of your degree plan - research Area of Study - demonstrate that you understand guidelines - show how you will meet each component Concentration - demonstrate that you understand guidelines - show how you will meet each component General Learning - Point out progression of learning (foundation through advanced level) - Point out integration of learning (how your general learning and concentration are interrelated) - Point out that you have met the general education requirements and discuss your learning from 2-3 general education studies Conclusion - Reflections on your education and attaining your degree
  22. 22. Online Resources 1. Student Degree Planning Guide http://www.esc.edu/studentdpguide 2. AOS and Concentration Guidelines http://www.esc.edu/aos 3. A Student Guide: Credit for Prior College-level Learning http://suny- empire.esc.edu/media/sharedassets/forms/CreditforCollege- levelLearning3-22-2012.pdf

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