14th Jan2016

My ASP Educational Associate Degree Process & Thesis

by Christine

Just the other night, I received the incredible honor of being conferred the 42nd Educational Associate Degree of the American Society of Photographers. Ella Carlson and I were #41 and #42, and in true Hitchhiker fashion, I requested #42 as my very own. Thank you Rick Trummer for granting that crazy little request.

I’ve been Instagramming some of the process, mostly images of the thesis-writing portion and stacks of reference material strewn around my dining room. I took the table over for a number of weeks and then kept the stacks of books and publications close at hand just in case I didn’t pass and needed to re-write it.

The thesis in progress...

The thesis in progress…

But that’s about all I’ve really covered.

I received a number of requests for guidance in the process and I’ve delayed answering until after I knew I’d done it correctly, myself. So, now that I know I didn’t completely train-wreck, it, here’s some information…

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The Educational Associate Degree (EA-ASP) is one of three degrees available from the American Society of Photographers (not counting Honorary degrees, the other two are the Service and Fellowship degrees).

In order to apply for the EA-ASP there are a couple of prerequisites:

1. Eligibility to apply for the ASP Educational Associate requires that an individual hold the PPA Photographic Craftsman degree and have acquired 30 additional speaking, teaching or writing merits AFTER receiving their degree AND as a member in good standing of ASP.

I received my Craftsman Degree and became a member of the ASP at the same time, so counting the merits that were earned after these two events was easy to track.

2. The applicant must complete a minimum of three consecutive years membership in ASP prior to application and judging for the Educational Associate.

I became an ASP member in January of 2012, after having received my PPA Photographic Craftsman Degree. Three consecutive years took me to January of 2015. Educational Associate Degree applications are taken each October, so the first available opportunity for me to apply was October 2015.

3. The applicant must write a paper of at least 4000 words of individual research and thought that demonstrates the applicant’s mastery of the field and supports a position for a new idea, development or trend.

These three requirements are pretty well spelled out. Time-wise, I was eligible to apply in January 2015; merit-wise, I was eligible in February 2015. Once those two items were met, all that was left was the thesis and that was submitted in October 2015. Applications are only accepted once per year.

So, we’re down to requirement #3, the thesis. And this is where most of the questions are concerned when I talk to folks thinking about attempting this.

I think the most important part of the thesis requirement (besides the 4000 word part) is “supports a position for a new idea, development or trend.”

For me, it was a given that I would write about image competition. It’s what I do, it’s who I am, it’s what I teach. One of the things I do when discussing image competition is tie it in to a psychological theory called “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.”

Yes, I heard you yawn from here.

If you’ve been in my classes – this is the part of the program where I talk about “Christine’s Triangle of Wootness.”

Without going into a rewriting of my thesis here, I basically felt that Maslow’s theory and the motivating factors of image competition paralleled each other and my thesis outlined those parallels. I switched into college paper-writing mode and took all of the material I used in developing that portion of my image competition classes and rewrote the material on a more cerebral level.

That’s a flowery word for dry.

The applications were due October 1, 2015 and there were a number of supporting documents that needed to go along with the application. A PPA merit report was the biggie – but it’s pretty easy to download a PDF of that from PPA’s website. I also had to include a head shot and bio. There is an $85 application fee, as well.

The judging process takes a few weeks and involves five judges. Four of the judges are previous EA-ASP degree holders and one is an English instructor at a high school or college level. There are a certain amount of points (out of 100) allocated for content, style, form and grammar and the thesis must receive a passing score of 85 from three or more judges.

Fortunately, I received a notification that my scores were 82, 85, 90, 90 and 91. I passed. Yay. I received a document that contained a score breakdown and comments from each of the five judges. Some of them were positive, some of them were critical. All of them were just.

Part of me felt a little bit like rewriting the thesis to address the notes for improvement and I imagine that at some point in time I will make that effort.

I will more than likely drop the scholarly tone and revert back to my current Wootnessy writing style as I have to admit that was the facet I had the most difficulty with during this project. The article you are currently reading is in excess of 1100 words and has taken slightly over an hour to write, but the 4000 word thesis was several weeks in final edit mode. I have a feeling, the Wootness version won’t take as long.

I have a few pointers and comments that you might find interesting/helpful:

1. The judging criteria spells out a specific version of the MLA handbook for a reason. Make sure that you get the correct edition – there are specific reference formatting and footnote usage rules that change between editions and utilizing the wrong one may cost you some valuable points.

2. My personal two cents – this is not a group project. Write it yourself.

Get someone to proofread for you, if necessary, but at this point, you should be at an exceptional level as an instructor and should be fully capable of documenting your own ideas. Although that’s not spelled out in the rules, I think the spirit of intent is evident. At least it is, to me.

After the thesis passed…

My notification was received in mid-November and I was informed that the degree would be conferred at the ASP gala in January 2016 at Imaging USA. Until then, I was not permitted to add the degree to my degree string, but now I will be adding “EA-ASP” to the end of it.

I find it amusing that both my name and degree string are hyphenated, now.

At the gala, the degree recipients are honored, their bios are read, the medallion is placed over their heads, their hands are shaken and their picture is taken. At some point a certificate is delivered and it’s all official.

For further research:

Make sure you check out further instructions regarding the thesis formatting & content here: http://asofp.com/images/uploads/EA_Judging_Criteria_2014.pdf as well as the official application form here: http://asofp.com/images/uploads/EA_Application.pdf.

If you’re really geeky and just have to read it, you may obtain a PDF copy of my thesis here (please respect copyright – only share the document in full form and only quote with credit):

A Maslovian Approach to PPA District and International Photographic Competition

by Christine Walsh-Newton, M. Photog. Cr., CPP, EA-ASP


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Article Reference Source: http://asofp.com/awards/educational-associate

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