ENGL 110 American Military University W 7 Problem Analysis Paper Assignment Instructions Instructions: Be sure to read the required reading for this week

ENGL 110 American Military University W 7 Problem Analysis Paper Assignment Instructions


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ENGL 110 American Military University W 7 Problem Analysis Paper Assignment Instructions Instructions: Be sure to read the required reading for this week
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Be sure to read the required reading for this week as it will help guide you through the process of analyzing a problem. It is by Catherine Savini and is linked here as well as in the lesson’s Reading and Resources section. “Looking for Trouble: Finding Your Way into a Writing Assignment”

“Problems are an expected part of life, and our ability to deal with them can help determine our personal and professional success,” according to Catherine Savini. As you read her work, you see that problems are also good for writing students, as they can “motivate” good papers and help students formulate a strong thesis statement or argument. Savini also notes that “Theses do not fall from the sky. Finding a rich problem can be a big step in the direction of developing a compelling thesis.” (56).

Looking at problems, then, is what you will do in this assignment. This analysis project requires you to tackle a problem within your field of study by first exploring and then recommending practical solutions to solve the problem. Savini provides some great steps to take in working with problems:

1. Noticing;

2. Articulating a problem and its details;

3. Posing fruitful questions;

4. Identifying what is at stake.

Review the piece to see how these steps can help you with your problem analysis paper.


Noticing: A company faces a growing number of insurance claims from employees complaining of eye strain.

Articulating a problem and its details: The company recognizes the potential impacts from not acting, including the workers’ compensation claims, lowered productivity, and impacts on employee morale.

Posing fruitful questions:

To what degree is the lighting affecting employees?
Is the lighting the problem, or is the eye strain restricted to workers on a certain floor or area of the office building?
Could there be external factors affecting eye strain such as late nights at the office working on their projects?

Identifying what is at stake: The company recognizes that insurance claims can result in increased premiums; that lowered productivity can impact profits; and that lowered employee morale can impact productivity, quality, and retention.

After deciding on the problem you wish to tackle, begin building questions about it. You will find three attachments here to provide additional help in building your questions. Your goal for the analysis is to answer the questions through your sources. Finding multiple angles and perspectives is ideal so that you explore those possibilities in the final paper before settling on your recommendation. Be sure to identify what is at stake here.

Part of the recommendation should include the counterargument and rebuttal to demonstrate you’ve considered the limitations and concerns of your solution and can still defend the recommendation regardless of potential weaknesses. Help the doubters understand that this really is the most feasible, objective, and sustainable solution.

PURPOSE: To analyze a problem
AUDIENCE: Classmates, others interested in the field
LENGTH: 1,000 words (Times New Roman font). Exceeding the word count is not a good thing.
SOURCES: 5 (five) sources total, with at least 1 (one) from a professional journal in the APUS Library (peer-reviewed)
FORMAT: The citation style that is appropriate for your discipline
DUE: SUNDAY 11:55 pm EST of Week 7
SUBMIT: In ASSIGNMENTS submit your essay by uploading your Word file

Use only third person (he/she/they) for a more professional tone. Avoid first person (I, my, us, we) and second person (you and your) in your essay.

**Remember that all work submitted is to be your own original work except where properly acknowledged and cited. Do not reuse work, papers, or speeches from previous (or concurrent) classes as this violates APUS academic integrity policies. (Make sure to note the section on self-plagiarism.) ** ENGL110
Essay Rubric
Essay Setup
3-4 Errors in
formatting exist.
formatting or no
discernible pattern.
Introduction is
engaging, properly
introduces the thesis
statement, and is well
Introduction is
engaging and
relates to the
thesis but is too
short or
elements that
connect it
organically to
the thesis.
Introduction is mildly
engaging, somewhat
relates to the
thesis, too short,
and is missing
elements that
connect it
organically to the
Introduction is not
engaging or
related to the
thesis. No serious
Thesis clearly
articulates the
position, scope, and
specific elements that
will be covered in the
articulates the
position, scope,
and specific
elements that
will be covered
in the essay
with some
challenges in
All body
topic sentences
loosely with the
thesis, or most
of the topic
sentences relate
paragraphs are
developed. Most
support their
respective topic
Thesis is attempted
but has issues with
Thesis is
irrelevant, unclear,
too narrow, or too
broad. No serious
Body paragraphs’
topic sentences are
generic or indirectly
connected with
Characterized by
weak transitions.
Weak transitions
and indirect
topic sentences.
Only one body
paragraph is
developed. Some
sentences support
their respective topic
Body paragraphs
are present but
are too short and
do not support
their respective
topic sentences.
present, but
they do not
readability of
Conclusion is
effective and
paraphrases the
thesis but is too
3-5 grammatical
present; mild
disruption of
readability of text.
6 or more
grammatical errors
present that
understanding of
All body
paragraphs’ topic
coordinate closely
with the thesis.
All body paragraphs
are well developed.
All sentences support
their respective topic
There are no
grammatical errors.
1-2 Errors in
Paper is formatted in
perfect MLA, APA, or
Chicago style
(margins, spacing,
header, etc.).
Conclusion is
effective, paraphrases
the thesis, and is
well developed.
Conclusion is mildly
effective, somewhat
paraphrases the
thesis, and is too
Conclusion is not
effective, does
not paraphrase the
thesis, and is too
References or
Works Cited
Signal phrases and
references (when
required) indicate
clearly when the
ideas, constructions,
methods, or “exact”
words of others are
used. All are
formatted according
to citation style.
Students correctly
and appropriately
used requisite number
of resources from
APUS library and
Signal phrases
references are
generally, but
not perfectly,
used according
to appropriate
citation style.
Signal phrases or
references are
attempted but
inconsistent; may
not be formatted to
align with citation
Signal phrases and
references are
lacking and don’t
align with citation
1-3 Errors are
present, but
student used
number of
resources from
APUS library
and professional
4 or more errors
are present, or
student did not use
requisite number of
resources from
APUS library and
formatting errors,
and student did
not use requisite
number of
resources from
APUS library and
Formulating Your Research Question (RQ)
In a research paper, the emphasis is on generating a unique question and then synthesizing diverse sources into a
coherent essay that supports your argument about the topic. In other words, you integrate information from
publications with your own thoughts in order to formulate an argument. Your topic is your starting place: from here,
you will develop an engaging research question. Merely presenting a topic in the form of a question does not
transform it into a good research question. For example:
“What forces affect race relations in America?”
“How do corporate hiring practices affect race relations in
Likewise, the question “What is the percentage of racial minorities holding management positions in corporate offices in Nashville?”
is much too specific and would yield, at best, a statistic that could become part of a larger argument.
“How does KFC market its low-fat food offerings?”
“Does KFC put more money into marketing its high-fat food
offerings than its lower-fat ones?”
The latter question is somewhat better, since it may lead you to take a stance or formulate an argument about consumer awareness or
OBJECTIVE (factual)
“How much time do youth between the ages of 10 and 15
spend playing video games?”
SUBJECTIVE (an issue about which you can take a side)
“What are the effects of video-gaming on the attention spans
of youth between the ages of 10 and 15?
The first question is likely to lead to some data, though not necessarily to an argument or issue. The second question is somewhat
better, since it might lead you to formulate an argument for or against time spent playing video games.
“Does the author of this text use allusion?”
“Does the ironic use of allusion in this text reveal anything about
the author’s unwillingness to divulge his political commitments?”
The second question gives focus by putting the use of allusion into the specific context of a question about the author’s political
commitments and perhaps also about the circumstances under which the text was produced.
Research Question Checklist:
 Is my RQ something that I am curious about and that others might care about? Does it
present an issue on which I can take a stand?
 Does my RQ put a new spin on an old issue, or does it try to solve a problem?
 Is my RQ too broad, too narrow, or OK?
 Is my RQ researchable…
o …within the time frame of the assignment?
o …given the resources available at my location?
 Is my RQ measurable? What type of information do I need? Can I find actual data to
support or contradict a position?
 What sources will have the type of information that I need to answer my RQ (journals,
books, internet resources, government documents, interviews with people)?
The answer to a good research question will often be the THESIS of your research paper! And the results of your
research may not always be what you expected them to be. Not only is this ok, it can be an indication that you are doing
careful work!
Adapted from an online tutorial at Empire State College: http://www.esc.edu/htmlpages/writerold/menus.htm#develop
Revised 08/08/2007
Generating Your Research Idea Worksheet
Identify your research theme, the general area you would like to investigate. Be sure to write in
the form of a question.
Identify your research question. Based on this theme, can you identify several more specific
research questions? Be sure to write in the form of a question.
Next, rewrite your question, getting even more specific and reducing your question to an even
smaller unit. Write each of your question(s) on a smaller scale, in terms as precise as possible. Be
sure to write in the form of a question.
Identify the questions that make the most sense to you, questions that can actually be answered
within the scope of this assignment. Review your questions and write the question that is at the
level that makes the most sense to you.
Finally, identify some key words affiliated with this topic. You might want to do some preliminary
Googling of your topic to find such key words. These are the key words you’ll type into the APUS
library search to find articles.
Broad Key Words
Specific Key Words
What Makes a
Good Research
What is a Research Question?
A research question guides and centers your research. It should be clear and focused, as well as synthesize
multiple sources to present your unique argument. Even if your instructor has given you a specific
assignment, the research question should ideally be something that you are interested in or care about. Be
careful to avoid the “all-about” paper and questions that can be answered in a few factual statements.
1. For instance, the following question is too broad and does not define the segments of the analysis:
Why did the chicken cross the road?
(The question does not address which chicken or which road.)
2. Similarly, the following question could be answered by a hypothetical Internet search:
How many chickens crossed Broad Street in Durham, NC, on February 6, 2014?
(Ostensibly, this question could be answered in one sentence and does not leave room for analysis. It
could, however, become data for a larger argument.)
3. A more precise question might be the following:
What are some of the environmental factors that occurred in Durham, NC between January and February
2014 that would cause chickens to cross Broad Street?
(This question can lead to the author taking a stand on which factors are significant, and allows the writer
to argue to what degree the results are beneficial or detrimental.)
How Do You Formulate A Good Research Question?
Choose a general topic of interest, and conduct preliminary research on
this topic in current periodicals and journals to see what research has
already been done. This will help determine what kinds of questions the
topic generates.
Once you have conducted preliminary research, consider: Who is the
audience? Is it an academic essay, or will it be read by a more general
public? Once you have conducted preliminary research, start asking openended “How?” “What?” and Why?” questions. Then evaluate possible
responses to those questions.
Duke Writing Studio
Say, for instance, you want to focus on social networking sites. After reading current research, you want
to examine to what degree social networking sites are harmful. The Writing Center at George Mason
University provides the following examples and explanations:
Possible Question: Why are social networking sites harmful?
An evaluation of this question reveals that the question is unclear: it does not specify which social
networking sites or state what harm is being caused. Moreover, this question takes as a given that this
“harm” exists. A clearer question would be the following:
Revised Question: How are online users experiencing or addressing privacy issues on such social
networking sites as Facebook and Twitter?
This version not only specifies the sites (Facebook and Twitter), but also the type of harm (privacy issues)
and who is harmed (online users).
While a good research question allows the writer to take an arguable position, it DOES NOT leave room
for ambiguity.
Checklist of Potential Research Questions in the Humanities (from the Vanderbilt University Writing
1) Is the research question something I/others care about? Is it arguable?
2) Is the research question a new spin on an old idea, or does it solve a problem?
3) Is it too broad or too narrow?
4) Is the research question researchable within the given time frame and location?
5) What information is needed?
Research Question in the Sciences and Social Sciences
While all research questions need to take a stand, there are additional requirements for research questions
in the sciences and social sciences. That is, they need to have repeatable data. Unreliable data in the
original research does not allow for a strong or arguable research question.
In addition, you need to consider what kind of problem you want to address. Is your research trying to
accomplish one of these four goals?1
1) Define or measure a specific fact or gather facts about a specific phenomenon.
2) Match facts and theory.
3) Evaluate and compare two theories, models, or hypotheses.
4) Prove that a certain method is more effective than other methods.
Moreover, the research question should address what the variables of the experiment are, their
relationship, and state something about the testing of those relationships. The Psychology department at
California State University, Fresno, provides the following examples and explanations:
David Porush, A Short Guide to Writing About Science. (New York: Harper Collins, 1995), 92-93.
Duke Writing Studio
Possible research question: Are females smarter than males?
This question delineates the variables to be measured: gender and intelligence. Yet, it is unclear how they
will be evaluated: What method will be used to define and measure intelligence?
Revised question: Do females age 18-35 score higher than adult males age 18-35 on the WAIS-III? (The
WAIS-III is a standardized intelligence test.)
This research question produces data that can be replicated. From there, the author can devise a question
that takes a stand.
In essence, the research question that guides the sciences and social sciences should do the following
three things:2
1) Post a problem.
2) Shape the problem into a testable hypothesis.
3) Report the results of the tested hypothesis.
There are two types of data that can help shape research questions in
the sciences and social sciences: quantitative and qualitative data.
While quantitative data focuses on the numerical measurement and
analysis between variables, qualitative data examines the social
processes that give rise to the relationships, interactions, and
constraints of the inquiry.
Writing After the Research Question
The answer to your research question should be your thesis statement. Keep in mind that you will most
likely continue to refine your thesis statement as you conduct and write about your research. A good
research question, however, puts you well on your way to writing a strong research paper.
Helpful Links




Lee Cuba, A Short Guide to Writing About Social Science, third edition. (New York: Addison-Wesley Educational
Publishers, Inc., 1997), 70-71.

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