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Assignment 2: Problem Solving
When faced with a problem, what do you do to solve it? Assignment 2 asks you to apply a systematic approach to problem solving. This assignment is divided into two (2) parts. In Part I, of the assignment, you will read three (3) articles that present variations on step-by-step problem solving strategies and then select one (1) of these strategies; you will engage in pre-writing to develop a solution to a problem scenario. In Part II of the assignment, you will write a paper that presents a synthesis of your ideas about solving the problem. As Voltaire said, “No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking.”
Preparation and Pre-writing: Follow the steps below to explore a problem through reading and writing –
1. Choose one (1) of the problem scenarios as a topic choice for your paper
Scenario 1: You have worked at your company for eleven (11) years. You have returned to college to earn a Bachelor’s degree in order to increase your chances for a promotion. You are nearly finished with your degree; a supervisor’s position in a competing company becomes available in another state. The start date is in two (2) weeks, during your final exam period for your courses. The position offers a $15,000 per year salary increase, a car allowance, and relocation expenses. Your former supervisor works for the company and is recommending you for the position based on your outstanding job performance; if you want the job, it’s yours. All of the other supervisors at this level in the company have Master’s degrees. You know that you would be expected to earn your Bachelor’s degree and continue on to a Master’s degree. Your present company offers tuition reimbursement, but the new company does not.
Scenario 2: Your child comes home from school with an assignment sheet for a school project. He / she is very excited about the project and begins work immediately, doing research on the Internet and gathering materials. You read over the assignment sheet and notice that your child is not including all of the required items in the project, and you have some ideas for how to improve the quality of the presentation. You recently read an article in a parenting magazine about the importance of a child developing responsibility for his / her own learning. You recall the many ways in which your parents took over your school projects. You, on the other hand, want to encourage your child’s confidence in his / her ability to complete a project independently. The next day, you are at the grocery store when you see a parent of a student in your child’s class. That parent has spent over $30 in supplies for the science project and is taking a day off of work to put the pieces of the project together.
Scenario 3: You have two jobs—one during the week from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, and one on Saturday from 3:00 pm to 11:00 pm. You are taking two classes—one that meets from 6:00 to 10:00 pm, and one class online. You have two kids—one who plays soccer, and one who is in band. You have two elderly parents who no longer drive. You have two siblings—one who lives two (2) miles away, and one who lives in another state. You have two (2) papers due in your classes the same week that one (1) of your children has a soccer tournament, and the other child has a band concert. You are coaching the soccer team, and you are in charge of fundraising for the band. You have a goal to complete your degree in two (2) years. Your doctor tells you that your blood pressure, your cholesterol, and your weight are too high and recommends several medications that cost you nearly $200 per month after your insurance co-pay.
Scenario 4: You are a sales representative for a company that encourages staff to log time in the field and away from the office. You are expected to begin and end your day at the office. You notice that each day when you arrive and return another co-worker is already there, and you wonder whether this person spends most of his / her time at the office. At your weekly sales meeting, you are informed of your co-workers’ outstanding sales performance. You suspect that this co-worker is spending more time flattering the boss instead of working leads in the field, and as a result is getting the best client referrals. Your own sales numbers have steadily decreased since this other sales representative was hired.
2. Go to the Internet, and read the following articles:
- “Einstein’s Secret to Amazing Problem Solving (and 10 Specific Ways You Can Use It)”, located at http://litemind.com/problem-definition/.
- “The Problem Solving Process”, located at http://www.gdrc.org/decision/problem-solve.html.
- “Interpersonal Conflict and Effective Communication”, located http://www.drbalternatives.com/articles/cc2.html.
3. Select one (1) of the step-by-step problem solving strategies outlined in one (1) of the articles. Using the chosen problem solving strategy as a model, brainstorm ideas for each of the steps to develop a solution to the problem scenario you chose.
Synthesizing and Writing: Now that you have developed a solution to the problem by pre-writing about your ideas –
Write a four to five (4-5) page paper in which you:
- Analyze the problem scenario that you have chosen, and organize your analysis into sections that correlate to each step in the selected problem solving strategy.
- Apply each step within the selected problem solving strategy to related elements of the scenario that you have chosen.
- Suggest alternative actions to the situation(s) within the scenario that correspond to each of the steps within the selected problem solving strategy.
- Speculate on whether or not the same problem-solving strategy would be effective if used with different scenarios.