Assembling Your LA and KAM:
The Nuts and Bolts of Formatting
With Heidi Marshall, MFA
• Overview of LA
• Overview of KAM
• LA & KAM formatting
• Common mistakes to avoid
• Resources available
Purpose of LA
LA: Contract in which you indicate the
subject area objectives, resources, and
demonstration of mastery for your KAM.
Overview of LA
• The LA summarizes your main objectives
for each section
• The LA identifies the sources you will use
in each section
• The LA acts as a contract between you
and your mentor
– That does not mean, however, that you can’t
deviate from that contract once you start
writing your KAM
LA Components: Overview
• Provides an overview of the KAM
• The overview should be 1-3 paragraphs
(usually less than a page)
• The overview is just a general summary of
your goals for each section
• The overview should be grounded in the
curriculum guidelines for that particular
LA Components: Objectives
• The objectives for each section should be specific
Say this: Analyze the social change theories of Marx, Blumer, Durkheim, and Toffler in terms of
their underlying assumptions about human nature and destiny.
Not this: Analyze several social change theories.
• The objectives should demonstrate what you have learned, not
what you hope to understand
Say this: Differentiate between open and closed systems in terms of organization, purpose, and
Not this: Understand the difference between open and closed systems.
• The objectives should demonstrate higher order thinking.
Use verbs like synthesize, compare and contrast, analyze, integrate, evaluate
Do not use verbs like list, understand, identify
LA Components: References
• References need to be scholarly
• Have as many primary sources as
possible (don’t read about Freud in
• Include only those references you can
access and will read
• Follow APA style rules
Questions About the LA?
• For questions about content, ask a faculty
Purpose of KAM
• A KAM is a comprehensive, independent
unit of study in a social science area.
• A KAM is a demonstration.
So what are you demonstrating?
-Your knowledge about a topic that interests you
-That you know what you are talking about and
that it matters to your audience
A KAM is a paper about 90 pages long
You first write what you know about theory
You then write about recent scholarly
You then apply that research to a real-life
What is the purpose?
• To develop your independent research
skills and confidence so that you can meet
your personal and professional interests
• To help you understand how you can
contribute to social change at some level
in your profession.
• To allow you to demonstrate your
ability to connect theory, research, and
Organizing a KAM Breadth
• Select the texts you will use
• Take notes and organize them into
themes that interest you.
*Note: You do not always need to read an entire book, but you do want to have
a good enough understanding of the theories so you do not take anything
out of context
• Make an outline based on your
*Try not to organize by theorists because you’ll end up with a Breadth that
reads like a biography or book report
Breadth Organization, continued
In the Breadth, you should:
• Indicate the section’s purpose
• Present a critical discussion of theories
• Critique the theories and methods used to form
• Synthesize the theories
• Evaluate the theories
• Provide a preview of the Depth: How the
theories might inform current research
Organizing KAM Depth
First, conduct preliminary research and
narrow your search down to at least 15
articles on a your topic.
• Accuracy: Is the information error free?
• Authority: Who is supplying the information and are they qualified to do
• Objectivity: Is the information bias free?
• Currency: Is the currency of the information appropriate for your field or
• Coverage: Are all aspects and details of the subject covered?
Your task is NOT to just summarize each
one; you must conduct a critical analysis.
Once you Have your Top 15
• Was the research question well framed and significant?
• How well was the research related to the existing body of
• Did the article make an original contribution to the existing body of
• Was the theoretical framework for the study appropriate?
• Has the researcher communicated clearly and fully?
• Was the research method appropriate?
• How else might answer the research question?
• Was the sample size sufficient?
• Were there adequate controls for researcher bias?
• Is the research replicable?
• What were the limitations in this study?
• How easily can you generalize the findings?
• Are the conclusions justified by the results?
While reading, make sure that you're taking
notes on what interests you.
Be sure to include a citation for your notes
so you don’t have to go back later and
look it up. (Author, year, p. x)
Write the Annotated Bibliography
• Includes at least 15 articles that are no more
than 5 years old (aim for no more than 3
• Begin with the full APA reference followed
-a critical analysis (use those questions that guided you
through your research
-a statement of value (how will this article help you?)
Write a Critical Review Essay
• Take the birds-eye view
• Try to organize thematically or methodologically
• Compare and contrast purpose statements
• Indicate strengths and limitations in research
• Construct trends or recurring issues
• Speak to the relationships among studies
• State the relationship of the articles to your
interests or area of inquiry
• Note where there are gaps in the literature (this
could be a dissertation topic)
Organizing an Application
In the Application, you will be designing or
examining a particular project that
connects with the theories and research of
the earlier components of the KAM.
– Your goal is to initiate social change in your
field based on what you learned in the
Breadth and Depth
– You want to test the theories you learned in a
• Begin with a full description of your project
– What was the project’s purpose?
– Who was involved in the project?
– Was the project successful?
– Why was the project important?
• Reflect on the project
– How was the project informed by the theories?
• This is where you connect the entire KAM
– What are the future implications of/developments for the project?
– How will the project help change your professional field?
Develop a practical Application that is reflective
number, title, your name)
of your theory and research
Create a project that shows you can translate
theory and research into practice
•Explains how the project connects with the
theory and/or research analyzed in the earlier Application Demonstration of Mastery
parts of the KAM
Select a topic that grows out of the theories
Demonstration of Mastery
or theorists of the Breadth section.
Explore current research around that topic
Journals should be peer reviewed or
Demonstration of Mastery
Books may supplement and aren’t
Research from last 3 - 5 years.
Write Literature Review Project on Findings
Classical or Contemporary Theorists
•Select theorists around a particular
•Write an essay to develop the theme
•Demonstrate higher-order thinking Three Tiered KAM Model1
1Shepard, M. (2007, May). Mentoring the KAM process. (Available to Walden
Faculty from Walden University). Adapted from slide originally created by Joe
Questions about the KAM?
LA and KAM Formatting
Check the KAM Guide and
Formatting guidelines might change slightly over
time to make KAMs easier to compile, so use the
online versions of the Guidebook and Template as
your sources for information!
Check Your Document
Make sure you’re using:
• 12 point, serif font (Walden prefers Times
• 1-inch margins all around
• No bold or underlined text with the
exception of Level 1, 2, 3, and 4 headings,
which are bold
• American English language
Template Review: LA
Template Review: KAM
Most Common Writing Mistake
Wordiness (i.e., trying to sound smart)!
While scholarly writing has style conventions, it does not
have to be wordy, stuffy, or dispassionate. You
should avoid colloquialisms and slang, but do not strive
to sound academic. Sentences should not be long
and complex. Your convictions about what you are
writing, dynamic evidence, and honest voice should not
be lost in tedium. Crispness, curiosity, honesty, and
enthusiasm are ingredients of impassioned scholarship
(KAM Guidebook, p. 36).
Other Common Mistakes
• Students don’t see the KAM as a whole document
• Students self-format at the end of the process
• Students don’t keep track of sources
• Students don’t use Walden resources
• Students don’t use information from their LAs in
compiling their KAMs
• Students become overwhelmed by not focusing on
one task at a time
Use Format Help!
• MS Word Formatting:
Helpful Web Sites
• KAM Curriculum and Resources:
• Walden Writing Center:
• Library Resources: