Skip to main content

Common Course Assignments: KAM Breadths


In the Breadth component, you will explore the ideas of the foundational theorists in the field you are studying, and you will draw conclusions from these theories that will inform your research of current literature in the Depth and your project in the Application.

Introduction Paragraphs

Example #1

In the Breadth component of KAM I, I address social change through the works of theorists Lauer, Toffler, Toffler, Toynbee, Lewin, and Alinsky, and I analyze the major concepts of each. I also use Lauer's myths of social change to compare and contrast the arguments of the other authors. Finally, I highlight both historical and more contemporary works to give a broad range of perspectives on social change. These I can further explore in the Depth component.  (Patricia Bresser, Breadth)

In this paragraph, the student introduces the theorists she has read and the theories that she analyzes in her Breadth. She also offers a brief description of the methods she uses in this component of her KAM as well as the purpose of her Breadth research.

Example #2

In this component, I explore the ideas advanced by several theorists whose contributions have caused significant discussion within the domain of human development. Each theorist has observed ways in which culture and nature have had an impact on human development and therefore sees human beings as a part of a larger context in a multicultural environment. The areas I cover will include but not be limited to biological, sociocultural, cognitive, moral, and psychological aspects of human development spanning the historical spectrum from Aristotle to Freud. I then synthesize these authors' ideas to develop a theoretical framework of human development. (Mark Bignell, Breadth)

This student begins his Breadth with a description of the broad themes he covers in this component, as well as specific topics and authors that he addresses. He finishes his opening paragraph by stating a clear purpose for his Breadth component. Note that this student provided only enough background information to give his readers a clear understanding of his topic, and as a result this paragraph is short and concise, containing just over 100 words.

Body Paragraphs

Use of a Direct Quotation and Paraphrasing

According to Lauer (1991), in order to understand social change, one not only has to define it; one has to evaluate the myths that surround it. For some, social change occurs with a change in attitude by an individual or group. For others, social change results from a change in a social structure or organization. Lauer's perspective was that "social change is an inclusive concept that refers to alterations in social phenomena at various levels of human life from the individual to the global" (p. 4). Some of the levels he described include organizations, community, and society. Lauer believed that social change is evident whenever there is "alteration at any level of social life" (p. 6). The direction of the change and how rapidly or slowly the change occurs should be the focus of study. Invariably there is a relationship between change on one level and change on another.
For instance, an individual's attitude about affirmative action may lead that individual to try to effect change in the company (institution) for which she or he works. However, Lauer (2009) cautioned that one cannot assume that change on one level (individual) will automatically lead to change on another (organization). (Patricia Bresser, Breadth)

In this paraphrase, the student effectively puts most of her source's ideas into her own words, which allows her to clearly and concisely connect these ideas to her own argument. She also includes direct quotations, but she only uses them when the author's exact wording helps to accurately describe an idea, and she integrates them into her own text.

Effective Use of Secondary Sources

Bandura (as cited in Crain, 1992) has been criticized for minimizing the impact or interplay of developmental stages in learning because he argued that the child's environment was more of an influence on new behaviors than was the child's intrinsic desire to learn new skills. The followers of Piaget, focused on the cognitive processes of the child rather than the influences in the immediate environment, are particularly prone to this position (Holm, 1995). Bandura also drew criticism for raising questions about Kohlberg's stages of moral development in children (as cited in Crain, 1992). Like Skinner, Bandura (as cited in Crain, 1992) focused on observable behavior instead of hypothesizing about what occurs during the thinking process.
Bandura's disagreement with these developmental theorists stems from a weakness in the social learning approach in which theorists examine the "black box," or the brain as the cognitive and emotional center, from the outside rather than the inside (Johnson, 1989; Bandura, as cited in Crain, 1992). In contrast, Bandura's work offers little acknowledgment of internal thought processes responsible for creativity and individuality. Indeed, if Bandura is to be believed, people are great imitators, using their cognitive skills to choose who they will imitate. While the self-efficacy appraisal is a form of reflection, there is no generalization of that sort of self-evaluation to the human condition, to an appreciation of the human capacity for philosophy, art, and love. (Diana White, Breadth)

In the first paragraph, the writer states the criticism of Bandura and determines if there is any basis for it. Then, in the second paragraph, she expands on this criticism, adding her own reasons and arguments. Also, this student effectively uses a secondary source to support her own ideas about the theories that the secondary source addresses. Note that she uses secondary source citation rather than the standard citation style to indicate to her readers that her source is secondary (i.e., cited within a work by another author) rather than primary. Secondary sources are acceptable within academic writing as long as they are kept to a minimum. You should use secondary sources only if you are unable to find or retrieve the original source of information.

Effective Synthesis of the Literature

Sperry (1996) added that structure specifies how an individual in a role should perform. In most cases, a performance appraisal can be used to measure how well an individual is performing in a given role (Sperry, 1996). Finally, the structure subsystem is responsible for helping to control and coordinate information to and from other systems, such as subsystems and the suprasystem (Sperry, 1996).
This structural subsystem most closely aligns with Goffman's thoughts on interaction rituals. Goffman (1982) explained that individuals carry out actions instinctively when those actions are governed by specific sets of rules. In other words, in the structural subsystem, a clear definition of the rules surrounding each role will lead to the employees carrying out their respective roles on a nearly automatic level; they will know what to do and when to do it. One could argue that Bandura's (1995) social cognitive theory also lends credence to this subsystem classification. While Goffman's (1963) ideas reveal that employees will carry out each task without conscious thought, Bandura's ideas expose how the employees reach that level of action.  Bandura's social cognitive theory also identifies the ways employees learn the methods required to carry out their actions, such as mastery experiences, vicarious experiences, social persuasions, and interpretations of their own emotional state at a given time. (Adam Jones, Breadth)

In this student's synthesis, he not only conveys his sources' ideas; he also uses those ideas to advance his own argument. For example, he connects Sperry's ideas about the structural subsystem to Goffman's ideas about interaction rituals and Bandura's social cognitive theory, synthesizing a foundation based in scholarly literature for the conclusions he will make later in his Breadth. Notice, too, that this student does not restrict each author to his or her own paragraph; instead, the student cites each of these authors in multiple paragraphs. He bases the structure of this portion of his paper around his own ideas rather than the ideas of the authors he cites. This student also makes sure to include a citation, per APA style, whenever he uses the words or ideas of another author.

Conclusion Paragraphs

In the Breadth component, I explored the theoretical underpinnings of organizational and social systems from the perspectives of Bertalanffy (general systems theory), Passmore (sociotechnical systems theory), and Scott (organizational systems theory) to understand the relationship between systems and subsystems in the workforce.  These theorists all emphasized the importance of understanding, predicting, and controlling the influence of the environment and technology on organizational change or redesign.  In the final analysis, the comprehensive examination of Bertalanffy, Passmore, and Scott contained philosophical and practical strategies to evaluate the interrelationship between the USPS and USPIS and to employ techniques and strategies to decrease occupational stress and reduce occupational stressors.
From their unique perspectives, Bertalanffy, Passmore, and Scott provided system techniques to implement organizational change.  For example, Bertalanffy (1975, 1968) argued that traditional problem-solving techniques are no longer effective to execute organizational change in an increasingly complex society.  Consequently, Bertalanffy (1975) asserted that an open system approach should be utilized when assessing social systems or organizations.  In fact, Bertalanffy (1975) stated that understanding comes from the investigation of the entire system and the interrelationship of its parts.
Similar to Bertalanffy, Passmore (1988) emphasized the importance of interrelationships between systems and subsystems.  As I noted previously, he argued that social, technical, and environmental systems all influence the success of organizational change or redesign (Passmore, 1988).  Furthermore, he defined joint optimization as social and technical systems working together in harmony (Passmore, 1988).
Finally, Scott (2008, 2003) argued that organizations are the leading force of change within social systems, and they affect every area of life.  In fact, Scott and Davis (2007) stated that the study of organizations has led to a better understanding of people and society.  Whereas Bertalanffy and Passmore asserted that environmental factors influence organizations, Scott and Davis emphasized that organizations are ubiquitous, and they influence status, power, personality, and performance.  As I noted previously, Scott and Davis provide techniques from a rational, natural, and open system-perspective on how to manage organizational change.  (Gregory Campbell, Breadth)

In his conclusion section, this student summarizes all of the major points he makes in his Breadth, including the foundational theories he examined and the ways that they connect to his topic. Notice that he goes beyond a "bullet point" summary and leaves the reader with an understanding of how he will use these theories in the later components of his KAM.