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Project #3: Problem-Solving Report (200 points) Spring 2024 ENGL 7 Workshop #3: Week 9 (May 27-31) Proposal Due: Friday, May 31, 11:59 PM Pacific

Project #3: Problem-Solving Report (200 points)

Spring 2024

ENGL 7 Workshop #3: Week 9 (May 27-31)

Proposal Due: Friday, May 31, 11:59 PM Pacific Time (250-500 words, 35 pts)

Report Due: Tuesday, June 11, 11:59 PM Pacific Time (2000-3000 words, 165 pts)

In this project, you will identify a specific operational problem at your current or former company (student organizations or other non-profits

are fine too), research relevant business tools and/or policies that could address the problem, then write a persuasive report (2000-3000

words, single-spaced, in full-block memo format) to propose a solution. If you don’t have any professional experience to draw on, premade

scenarios will be available on Canvas. Your report should describe the problem, use your research findings to analyze the problem’s first-

order and second-order effects, give your recommendations to solve the problem, and engage one potential objection to your recommended

solution. Your analysis must integrate and cite at least four relevant secondary sources, including at least two scholarly articles.

To prepare for Project #3, you will write a brief project proposal (250-500 words, single-spaced, in full-block format) to explain what you

want to write about and why. Your proposal must 1) identify your organization and explain the operational problem you plan to write about,

2) demonstrate the problem’s significance for the organization, 3) identify your professional role for the report scenario, and 4) determine

your primary audience for the report and why they could address the problem. You can earn up to 5 points for completing each task; the other

15 points will evaluate your proposal’s overall viability and presentation. Use your TA’s feedback on the proposal to adjust your focus, which

may involve choosing a new topic. You may reuse content from your proposal in your main report, but keep in mind that they have two

different audiences: your proposal is addressed to your TA, while your report is addressed to a senior leader in your organization.

Report Structure

1. Memo Header: establish your name and job title (for the scenario), your audience’s name(s) and job title(s), and the date and subject of your

report. Your job role does not have to match your actual role in the organization, but please use your real name.

2. Report Introduction (1-2 paragraphs, 100-175 words each): introduce your organization’s primary goals, briefly defines the problem, then gets

your reader’s attention by clarifying what you hope to accomplish with the report and why it will benefit your organization.

3. Problem Description (1-2 paragraphs): explain the specific problem you wish to solve, who is affected by it, and why your organization should

care enough to address it.

4. Problem Analysis (3-6 paragraphs): analyze the problem in detail, including the likely first-order and second-order effects. Use your secondary

research here to back up your claims about why this problem needs attention and how it could affect the organization’s strategic outcomes.

5. Recommendations (4-8 paragraphs): propose a targeted solution to the problem, based on your problem analysis. Include specific actions the

organization needs to take, the approximate cost, a timeline (if applicable), and specific benefits of adopting your solution.

6. Counterargument (1-2 paragraphs): acknowledge and deal with one potential objection to implementing your recommendations, such as cost, time,

expertise, or inconvenience.

Choosing a Problem

Operational problems negatively affect day-to-day professional tasks or projects, especially in terms of efficiency and cost-effectiveness. For

example, let’s say a grocery store wants every customer to have easy access to a sanitized shopping cart upon entering the store. The

store would have to ensure that there are enough carts to go around, that employees can regularly retrieve carts from the parking lot and

sanitize them for the next customer, that damaged carts are quickly identified and repaired/replaced, and that customers don’t steal carts from

the parking lot. Operational problems could arise with the initial supply of carts, with the availability of employees, with the efficiency of

the retrieval and sanitizing process, and with the security of the parking lot. Your report could focus on the efficiency problem, proposing

(for instance) a better schedule to retrieve carts and/or a better process for sanitizing them.

Focusing on Experience

The size of the problem you address is not as important as its significance for your audience and organization. In other words, think about

which community the problem currently affects (e.g., employees, customers, members, or vendors), what the problem’s potential

consequences are, and why those consequences are important to the organization. Keep this information in a chart or spreadsheet and use it

to organize your notes, guide your research, and plan your report.

Remember that even if a problem only affects a relatively small community, those individuals’ experiences could lead to bigger problems or

higher costs for the organization. For instance, let’s say you work at a restaurant that does not have wheelchair-accessible bathrooms. Not

only would this inconvenience customers or employees who use wheelchairs, prompting them to write negative reviews, but it could lead to

heavy fines or even a lawsuit if local/state laws require wheelchair-accessible bathrooms.

A good way to identify potential problems is to walk through common tasks or processes in your organization. What elements might annoy or

inconvenience someone in your target community? Why might that cause a problem or a negative experience? How would that experience

affect the organization’s business outcomes, such as sales, morale, or reputation? Beyond business outcomes, what moral or ethical issues

may be in play? You don’t necessarily need a solution at this point, but you should understand the problem and its potential

consequences in detail.

Researching the Problem

Your report must draw on and cite at least four secondary sources, including two scholarly articles. Please use APA style (7th edition) for

your citations. You will need in-text citations after every quote, paraphrase, or summary, as well as a reference list at the end of the

document. All your sources should be relevant to your topic and reflect current business conditions, so use material published in the past 10-

15 years if possible, especially if your analysis involves a legal issue. To find relevant sources, think about both the details of your problem

and its potential consequences, as well as the potential benefits for solving it. These elements should help inform your solution, but that

doesn’t mean your sources have to solve the problem for you. Feel free to schedule an office hours meeting if you’re having trouble

finding sources.

For example, let’s say your problem is that employees don’t have a good place to store meals or cold drinks while they are at work. Your

solution might consider options like adding a refrigerator to the break room, allowing employees to keep mini-fridges in their workspaces, or

offering a meal delivery service. But your research is more likely to cover variables like employee morale, nutrition, and health. Use those

variables in your Google/database searches, then use the results to make a more persuasive argument. Remember, well-researched sources

will point you toward other potentially useful material.

Analyzing the Problem and Recommending a Solution

As you learn more about the problem, its context, and its potential significance for your organization, you will be able to develop a more

detailed problem analysis. This section should demonstrate not only that you’ve done your research, but also that you fully understand why

this problem is significant, how it affects your target community’s experience with your organization, what consequences could emerge (or

already have emerged), why the organization should care about those consequences, and how the problem affects key business outcomes.

Based on your problem analysis, your final task is to recommend a specific, detailed, and targeted solution to the problem. It must clarify

specific actions the organization needs to take, provide an approximate budget, give a timeline (if applicable), and identify specific benefits of

adopting your solution. Your solution should be practical for the context in which you observed the problem, so think about things like

physical space, personnel, procedures, and even potential penalties. Keep the focus on how this solution would make life better for the target

community, but also consider budgetary and policy limitations. Your goal is to make a realistic and persuasive case.

Going back to the sample problem of workplace food storage, let’s say you recommend purchasing a refrigerator for the break room. In

addition to determining a budget for the purchase and making sure there’s enough floor space with access to a grounded outlet, you would

want to think about how the fridge would be used. How many employees would need to access it per day? Will there be enough room for

everyone’s lunch boxes/bags? What about long-term storage, like storing a case of water bottles or soda cans all week? Who will be

responsible for cleaning the fridge, and when? You do not necessarily need answers for every single question, but bringing them up (perhaps

to be addressed in future memos) is a good way to enrich your analysis and demonstrate that you’ve thought carefully about the issues.

Report Grading Rubric (165 points)

Problem Analysis

(50 points)

Detailed & compelling

analysis of the problem,

clearly supported by

research. Excellent

understanding of the

Solid and clear

analysis of the

problem, adequately

supported by research.

Good understanding of

Inconsistent or confusing

analysis of the problem,

poorly supported by

research. Basic

understanding of the

Very little analysis of the

problem, unsupported by

research. Poor or inaccurate

understanding of the

Category A (90-100%) B (80-89%) C (70-79%) D/F (40-69%)

Memo Header

(15 points)

Includes all these

format elements:

company logo, to, from,

subject, and date fields.

To and from fields

include names and job

titles. Subject line

clearly establishes topic

and outcome.

Missing 0-1 format

elements. To and from

fields may be missing

job titles. Subject line

generally relates to

report content.

Missing 2-3 format

elements. Subject line is

“Project 3” or otherwise

unrelated to report content. Missing 4-5 format elements.

Document Structure

(25 points)

2000-3000 total words.

Section headings

rhetorically frame the

content. Paragraphs are

consistently 100-175

words long.

1500-1999 total

words. Section

headings mostly copy

assignment section

names (e.g., “Problem

Description”). Most

paragraphs are 100-

175 words long.

1000-1499 total words.

Section headings only

copy assignment section

names. Some paragraphs

are 100-175 words long.

0-999 total words. Section

headings are absent. Few

paragraphs are 100-175 words


Research &


(25 points)

4+ relevant sources,

including 2 academic

sources. All quotes,

paraphrases, and

summaries are cited

correctly in APA.

4+ relevant sources,

but missing one or

both academic

sources. Most quotes,

paraphrases, and

summaries are cited

correctly in APA.

1-2 relevant sources. Some

quotes, paraphrases, and

summaries are cited

correctly in APA.

No relevant sources mentioned

or cited.

community, effects, and

potential outcomes.

the community,

effects, and potential


community, effects, and

potential outcomes.

community, effects, and

potential outcomes.


& Counterargument

(50 points)

Solution is clear,

detailed, and targeted to

the organization and

setting. Includes these

rhetorical elements:

specific actions, a

working budget, a

timeline, and a list of

specific benefits.

Acknowledges and

responds to one

potential objection to the


Solution is clear and

detailed. Missing 0-1

rhetorical elements.

Acknowledges a

potential objection to

the recommendations,

but does not respond

to it.

Solution has some vague or

confusing parts. Missing 2

rhetorical elements. Does

not acknowledge any

potential objections.

Solution is simplistic or only

addresses part of the problem.

Missing 3+ rhetorical elements.

Does not acknowledge any

potential objections.

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