Situation, Problem, Solution, Evaluation

Some solutions create more problems than they solve.

We don’t normally think about it, but everything made by humans has been designed to solve a specific problem. Some solutions are probably better than others. Think about these tables. What problem do they solve? Success or failure?

There are many ways to structure an essay, article or presentation. One of the most useful for understanding an academic topic is

  • Situation
  • Problem
  • Solution
  • Evaluation
StructureContains
SituationThe topic and background
ProblemThe nature of the problem
SolutionA solution to the problem
EvaluationHow well the solution works and questions remaining

For example:

StructureContents
SituationPeople need money in modern life.
ProblemUniversity students are often poor. This sucks.
SolutionGet a part-time job.
EvaluationUsually not a lot of money, but it can help. Also, the right job can be interesting. A bad boss, however, is terrible.

Example: Eyeglasses
Identify the Situation, Problem, Solution, and Evaluation sections of the following paragraph:

The ability to see well is critical for many animals and especially modern humans. Like many other animals, humans depend on sight for moving around in space and for non-verbal communication, but good eyesight is also critical for reading text and numbers. However many people suffer from poor eyesight, either from genetic defects, accident, or the natural aging process. For the majority of such people, eyesight can be greatly improved through the use of specially shaped glass or plastic lenses. Such lenses can easily be constructed to correct distortions and improve long-range or up-close focus. Not all eyesight problems can be corrected by lenses, however. Color-blindness and serious eyesight problems due to damage to the optic nerve, for example, are not helped by optical lenses. 

Situation: The ability to see well is critical for many animals and especially modern humans. Like many other animals, humans depend on sight for moving around in space and for non-verbal communication, but good eyesight is also critical for reading text and numbers.

Problem: However many people suffer from poor eyesight, either from genetic defects, accident, or the natural aging process.

Solution: For the majority of such people, eyesight can be greatly improved through the use of specially shaped glass or plastic lenses. Such lenses can easily be constructed to correct distortions and improve long-range or up-close focus.

Evaluation: Not all eyesight problems can be corrected by lenses, however. Color-blindness and serious eyesight problems due to damage to the optic nerve, for example, are not helped by optical lenses. 

You Try

Read the paragraph below and divide it into Situation, Problem, Solution and Evaluation. Post your answer in the reply below:

Human beings are, by nature, social creatures. We have evolved to live in groups. Our early ape ancestors were not the strongest or fastest animals in the environment. Still, we became the top animal on the planet. We did this because we can act creatively and in cooperation with others around us. For modern humans, we first learn to cooperate with people outside of our families in schools. The “socialization” that happens in schools, however, can sometimes lead to terrible bullying of individual children. When this happens, it can cause considerable damage to the children involved, both the bullied child and the children doing the bullying. Teachers and other adults have to constantly monitor children in groups to spot when this bullying is happening and stop it as soon as possible. They need to make clear to everyone involved that bullying is not acceptable. The bullied child may need extra encouragement and to be reassured that they are safe. The bullies themselves need to be encouraged to think of how it might feel if they were victims of bullying. Teachers, however, can not monitor children constantly, so they can not stop it 100%. It is, therefore, the responsibility of all members of society to make sure children are safe.

Read this article from Voice of America about a new technology called the “hyperloop”. Thinking about this technology,

  • What is the Situation (the general topic and background)?
  • What is the Problem (what problem does the hyperloop solve)?
  • What is the Solution (how does the hyperloop work, simple explanation)?
  • What is your Evaluation (what do you think, what questions do you have)?

Post your answers in the “Leave a Reply” below:

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