WRIT 220 Problem Explanation Assignment

WRIT 220

Problem Explanation Assignment


Due: Week 10

Value: 10%

Length: 500 words minimum

Format: Memo (short report)

Submission: Upload a doc, docx, pdf, or rtf file to the appropriate link in “Assignments”

Start with an Iceberg Model and Causal Loop Diagram

Congratulations on completing your iceberg model and causal loop diagram (with two feedback loops)! While the tools you submitted will be reflected in your problem explanation, there may be some differences; a system map is a thinking tool, and thinking will be ongoing as you write. Despite the rethinking that will inevitably occur, starting with complete versions of your iceberg model and causal loop diagram is still important.


This assignment is the next step toward completing the technical research report project. By now, you should have submitted your topic statement and received Erin’s approval to continue.

In a technical workplace, it’s not uncommon for a problem explanation or definition, to be a stand-alone document. The purpose of a problem explanation is to inform and persuade. A problem explanation helps to obtain buy-in from those involved, determines resource allocation, defines the scope of a project, keeps the project focused on an overall goal, and acts as a reference to guide ongoing decisions . At the end of project, it is revisited to make sure the solution actually solves the problem. A poorly crafted or incorrect problem explanation will lead to a faulty solution, as well as wasted time, money, and resources.

Often, the details/analysis is the starting point of a problem explanation process because it can help nail down the problem. It can also be the most persuasive component of a problem explanation because the magnitude of effects that you can quantify and qualify will help determine the priority of your project. Some writers will even attach an appendix where additional details can be found.

To develop your detail, you’ll write your way around each feedback loop. Using quotes and paraphrases from our list of approved sources for support, you’ll explain how and why the connections work. You could use any of these types of support: facts, statistics, common knowledge, definitions, expert opinions, anec dotes, scenarios, analogies, comparisons. The testimony of people with lived experience constitutes “expert” opinion here.

As you go back into the sources to find the support you need, be strategic by using the search features in the social annotation pr ogram. First, you could use the “Find in document” feature: at the top left of your screen, click on the magnifying glass icon and type a word or phrase. The program will take you to the places in the document that contain the word or phrase. Second, you could use the “Search annotations” feature: at the top right of your screen, type your name to quickly locate your own annotations or search by tag. For example, type “tag:#rules” to find the source content that was tagged as rules.


Before attempting this assignment, you should consult the materials attached with this assignment and review the following resources in Learning Materials on Blackboard:

•   Module 3: Document Design

•   Module 6: A Systems Thinking Process (PHASE 4: Report)

•   Module 5: Evaluate and Cite Sources

Self-Plagiarism: What is it? How to Avoid it

Submitting previously submitted course work for credit—in part or in full—is a form of plagiarism and is treated in the same manner as other forms of academic misconduct by Humber College. When an author self-plagiarizes, they are drawing on ideas or words that they have submitted for credit or publication elsewhere, without acknowledgment or proper citation. Here is a  short and helpful article that describes what self-plagiarism is, why it qualifies as academic misconduct, and how to avoid it in the future.

Format & Structure

As a short report, the problem explanation will feature a  memo header:


TO:                 Dr. Erin J. Harvey

FROM:           Your name

DATE:            Submission date

SUBJECT:     Problem explanation for the technical research report

In addition to a memo header, the report body should feature design elements like descriptive “talking” headings, bullets, and white space. You’ll also integrate your iceberg model, and causal loop diagram, and other visuals to help the reader understand t he problem.

There’s a sample outline on the next page. You may repeat the headings, but you’ll need to create your own relevant, descriptive subheadings.



Include your topic statement/title here

1.   What is your goal?  What will solving the problem achieve? How should things work? What would conditions look like if the problem were solved? What will happen when the problem is “fixed”? Here are some ways to think about what a goal can be: mission statement, minimum

requirement, industry standard, target, benchmark, or a desired condition. For us, the  UN Sustainable Development Goals and  UN Human Right to Water and Sanitation can be good starting points.

2.   What is the problem? How is the current situation falling short of the goal? Here are some ways to think about what a problem can be: deviation from a mission statement, requirement, standard; target not reached; difference compared to a benchmark ; condition to be improved

upon; expectation that is not being met ; or existing knowledge or practices that need to be better understood.

3.   What is the history of this issue? When was the problem first observed? Where is the problem observed (i.e., rural, urban, suburban)? When does the problem occur (short-term or continuing into the future)? How often is the problem observed?

4.   What is a specific example or instance of the problem? How did that problem come about?


Interpreting your iceberg model and causal loop diagram for readers will allow you to tell a coherent

story that addresses these interrelated and overlapping questions:

1.   What perspectives, viewpoints, and contexts are necessary to understand the problem?

2.   Who is affected? What is the impact of the problem on stakeholders?

3.   What does the current situation look like? How do we know there's a problem?

4.   What resources (research, funding) have been dedicated to solving the issue?

5.   What laws, rules, and practices contribute to the problem?

6.   What habits and mindsets are part of the problem?

7.   What are the causes of the problem? H ow do underlying structures and mental models perpetuate the problem?


What is the problem’s significance? Why does solving the problem matter? What’s the urgency? Why is it

important for the problem to be fixed? What will happen if we don’t solve the problem? What is the impact of the problem locally and globally? Here, you may reiterate your most persuasive details from the previous section.


The APA-style references list (full references, not just URLs) should include at least  THREE secondary

sources: sources we studied for the social annotation activities and/or additional sources that are authoritative and reliable. Commercial Internet sites are not acceptable.