Problem Solving Paper Writing Steps with Sample Essays

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Problem Solving Essays

Describe the problem and tell why it is important to solve.

Explain your solution and why it will work.

Refute any objections.

Step by Step Guide

Problems are easy to see, but finding solutions is not as easy. To write an effective Problem Solution Essay, you need to spend some time preparing your ideas. This step by step guide leads you through the process of getting your ideas ready to write. By the time you are finished with these exercises, you will be able to easily write your paper much more quickly.

Finding a Topic

Groups you belong to
Potential problem areas
Solution ideas
hometown
leadership
add money
school
rules and procedures
re-organize
hobby
stereotypes about group
new laws or procedures
club
ideas in group
build something
sport
behavior of people
take away something
jobs
poor facilities
motivate
age group
lack of money
enforce existing rules
ethnic group
lack of ability or talent
recruit people
role in family
poor attitudes
change leadership
socio-economic group
bad management
change method
male/female
wrong methods
change minds

Look for Humor!

Your problem and solution essay doesn't have to be serious.  Try thinking about a way to inject humor to make your audience agree with you.
Your problem and solution essay doesn't have to be serious. Try thinking about a way to inject humor to make your audience agree with you. | Source

Step One: Finding a Topic

Problem Solution ideas that are easiest to write about are ones that you have experienced yourself. If there is something that bugs you, or if you've ever thought, "I have a better idea of how to do that!" you have a good start on your topic search. So start with writing a list of different groups or organizations you belong to. Think about:

  • Where you live.
  • Hometown.
  • Activities, clubs and hobbies you do.
  • School groups.
  • Sports groups.
  • Places you've worked.
  • Groups of people you may identify with, such as male/female, oldest/youngest child in a family, ethnic background, tall/short etc.
  • Stereotypes: consider what group others might place you into and the stereotypes of that group.

2. Now take your list of groups and brainstorm different problems you see in these groups. The problems might be caused by:

  • The organization of the group
  • The leadership
  • Rules or procedures
  • Stereotypes about the group
  • Ideas in the group
  • People in the group
  • What the group wants to do vs. what they can do

Still can't find a topic? You can look through my topic list above. Remember that if you choose something which is a persuasive topic, you will need to develop a solution to that problem.

  1. From your list of possible problems, pick 3-4 that you are interested in writing on.
  2. Turn each of your topic ideas into a question. Try to narrow your question.

Example, if you are interested in solving the problem of cheating, possible questions could be:

  • How can we solve cheating among college students?
  • How can we solve cheating in High School?
  • How can we solve cheating on standardized tests?
  • How can we solve cheating on homework?
  • How can we solve businesses cheating on their taxes?

Test Cheater Caught on Film

Step Two: Gather Information About Topic

You've gathered several possible problems. Talk about your choices with people in your class or friends and pick one that you think will make the best paper topic. Don't worry if you end up changing your mind about your essay as you talk with other people. Making sure you find a topic you really want to write about is important.

Pick one topic from your list in Step One and answer the following questions to help you narrow down what you want to talk about.

  1. Does the topic involve different claims of definition? Would different members of the audience define the problem in different ways? Identify any possible differences of definition.
  2. Does a clear cause and effect relationship exist in the problem? What are the main causes and effects of the problem?
  3. Does the problem involve value judgments? If so, what values are involved?
  4. Does the possible solution involve getting the audience to adopt a change of behavior and/or a change of value?
  5. Where can you get information to help you write your paper? What sources will you use?

How can military parents stay close to their families?
How can military parents stay close to their families? | Source

Step Three: Identify Cause of Problem

You may need to do some research at this point to find out what other people think about this problem, the causes and the solutions that have already been suggested and tried. Answer the following questions to help you think through causes and effects.

  1. What problem will your essay address? Why did you choose to focus on this particular problem?
  2. What audience is affected by the problem and how are they affected?
  3. Other than those most directly affected, who is most likely to be aware of the problem? How will they know about it? What is their interest in it?
  4. Which of the effects of the problem are the most common? Which ones are the most serious?
  5. What are the possible causes of the problem? Which are the immediate causes and which are the remote ones? Are any of the causes unchangeable?
  6. What solutions have been proposed or tried in the past? If they were unsuccessful, why? If they were successful, why?
  7. What are the most important reasons for solving this problem?

Choosing an Audience

Address Someone Who Can Solve Problem: Choosing the audience you are writing towards is very important in Problem Solution Essays. If you want your solution to really work, you need to choose an audience that has the power to solve the problem, not just one that sees the problem.

Usually, Your Audience is an Authority: For example, students might not like the food in the cafeteria at school, but writing a paper to the students isn't going to solve the problem. You need to address the administration or cafeteria workers or some other authority who can actually make changes in the menu

Use Reasons that Convince that Audience: Moreover, you need to find reasons for solving the problem that would convince that authority. The students might notice the food is not tasty, but authorities might be more interested in the idea that the food is not healthy, or that parents will be happier if the food is better.

Step Four: Audience Questions

  1. What is the situation or context for the problem?
  2. What audiences are interested in the problem? Who would be directly affected by your solution?
  3. What are the different points of view an audience might have on the problem?
  4. Which audience or group has the power to work a solution to the problem?
  5. What sorts of reasons would make that audience believe the problem needs to be solved?
  6. How will this audience respond to your proposal? What sort of evidence would convince this sort of audience? Would they respond best to logic? pathos and emotion? authority? character?
  7. Who might object to your solution and what would their objections be? How will you respond to these objections?

Who is your Reader?

Remember to analyze your reader and choose details based on what will interest and convince them.
Remember to analyze your reader and choose details based on what will interest and convince them. | Source

Step Five: Finding a Solution

Many problems have multiple causes. You may need to focus on solving the most important cause. Answer the following questions to help you find your solution idea. Do any research needed to develop your plan.

  1. What is the most important cause of the problem?
  2. What do you think needs to happen for this problem to be solved?
  3. Explain your proposed solution. Include the steps needed to implement the proposal.
  4. What reasons can you give to show that this solution will work? How can you demonstrate the logical connections between parts of the problem and your solution?
  5. What specific effects would your proposal have on the problem? Explain the cause to effect relationship.
  6. How does this solution differ from previous solutions that have been tried?

Different Ways to Solve Problems

Solution
General Example
College Example
Change laws or rules
Add traffic law
New rules about registration
Change procedures
Change traffic flow pattern in school drop-off and pick up area
Different organization of dorm move-in
Change leaderships
Vote in a new leader
Change leadership in a club or change jobs of leadership
Add something (time, people or money)
Get more money for project, add more officers in police department
Add more upperclassemen to college dorms as community leaders
Build Something
A bridge, new highway or jail
New classrooms, dorms or parking garage
Enforce rules or laws
More traffic tickets given, or more drug arrests
Penalties for not attending class or club meetings, or parking fines increased
Reduce penalties
Reduce dollar amount of tickets
2 warnings before getting parking ticket
Motivate
Advertising to get out and vote
Incentives for attending sporting events
Educate
Information about smoking, explaining about signs of stroke
Healthy eating information, how to get an internship seminars
Get 2 sides together
Schedule meetings between citizens and police
Roommates should have weekly meeting to resolve disagreements
Rearrange use of resources
Have junior high and high school tennis teams schedule practices at different times so they don't need to build a new court
Schedule classes at night or Saturdays so working people can attend
This list of ideas has been generated by my students. Often, you might want to combine more than one type of solution in your paper. For example, you might want to provide information about the best kind of exercising routine and then motivation for

Step 6: Writing an Outline

Introduction: Make the problem clear to the reader and make them interested in it.

  • Description: Describe problem so the reader can see it.
  • Make Important: Make the reader feel it is an important problem to solve.
  • Cause/Effect: Explain what causes the problem (maybe talk about what people think causes the problem vs. what really causes the problem)
  • Thesis: Question and then answer (How do we solve the problem of…?)

Body: Explain the solution and argue it will work.

1. Solution: Explain your solution clearly and make the reader see how it will be done.

  • Give clear steps that need to be taken.
  • You may have more than one part to the solution or have different steps ( the best solution would be XXXX, but until that is adopted, we can do XXXX).
  • You may have different parts of the solution for different audiences (officials should change laws, but until that happens the individual can do XXXX)

2. Argue for Solution: Explain how your solution will:

  • Will solve the problem
  • Is reasonable
  • Is feasible (you can do it)
  • Is cost effective (either won’t cost much, will cost much but is worth it, or suggest how it can be paid for)

3.Answer Objections: Tell the objections (some people might say…) then respond. Types of objections:

  • The problem is not important enough to solve.
  • There are other more important causes of the problem.
  • Your solution won’t work.
  • Your solution is not cost-effective.

Conclusion: Make sure this is a call to action.

  • Tell what the reader should do, think or believe.
  • Urge the reader to act.
  • Explain why they should do so or paint a picture of what will happen if the solution is adopted.

Sample Outline: How to Solve the Freshman 15

This is an essay written by one of my students. For the full essay see:

http://hubpages.com/literature/A-Sample-Problem-Solution-Essay

Introduction: Story about worry about gaining weight in college.

  • The importance of Problem: Give facts about obesity and problems it causes.
  • Causes: Why it happens that college students gain.
  • Effects: How college students feel when they gain weight, how this can lead to eating disorders.
  • Thesis: How can students avoid gaining weight in college? Students need to eat healthy meals, plan for snacks and exercise.

Body:

Solution (including arguments to support each one inside the paragraphs):

  1. Healthy Eating: Concentrate on eating healthy foods and spend time finding healthy choices.
  2. Snacks: Plan for healthy snacks rather than taking what is most easily available.
  3. Exercise: Plan for this, or take advantage of the natural exercise in walking to class.

Conclusion: Why this is important to learn a healthy lifestyle for your life. Give facts and statistics about good health and how this affects you. Use a reverse scenario of a person after having put this plan in place or a real story of how you changed your habits to stop gaining weight.

How can binge drinking among college students be stopped?
How can binge drinking among college students be stopped? | Source

Sample Outline: How to Help a Roommate

This is a sample essay written by one of my students who wanted to solve the problem of having a roommate who had gotten involved in self-destructive behaviors while in college.

You can see the full essay here: http://hubpages.com/family/Becoming-That-Girl

Introduction:

  • Describe Problem: Roommate who has gotten involved with partying and become difficult to live with as well as having abandoned the values she seemed to have before. What should I do as her roommate?
  • Discuss Causes: Being too sheltered before college? Wanting to be popular? The desire for new experiences? Not understanding the long-term consequences.
  • Discuss Effects: Grades suffer. Unwanted sex, which could lead to a pregnancy or STD, embarrassing photos, videos, text messages, or calls, blood alcohol poisoning, severe hangovers, or even just developing an extremely poor reputation are a few of many possibilities.
  • Identify Audience/Thesis: The audience I wish to focus on is us. You and I, as the friends, roommates, or classmates of these students, can make the biggest impact.

Body

Solution Steps:

  1. First, and most important, is to protect them.
  2. Remind them what they should do
  3. Be ready to help when they fail
  4. Remind them who they really are
  5. Don’t be afraid to contact authorities if the person really needs more help.

Objections/Answer: Why should I help? What if they don’t respond?

Conclusion: What to expect. Don’t take personal responsibility for someone else. Continue to hope

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Comments 2 comments

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VirginiaLynne 2 years ago from United States Author

Thanks so much Sara for letting me know this was helpful to you!


Sara alkharsan 2 years ago

I found this website very useful and it helped me a lot organizing my ideas as well as to become able to deal with any topic that I might have been asked .

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