Creative thinking & Problem solving

General Instructions:

In composing your responses to all tasks, please use full sentences and pay careful attention to spelling, grammar, punctuation, and clarity of expression. Both the content of your work and its presentation are important and will be evaluated as follows: 80% on quality of content; 20% on quality of communication. Please note the length expectations for each task as well; they are general estimates of the minimum required to do a good job.

Task 1

In this essay, I would like you to explore the idea that problem solving can be summed up as a process with four principal elements: Opportunity, Motive, Level, and Style.

1.            Begin by choosing and describing a particular problem solving experience (past or current) from your professional or personal life in which you were/are a key player. The problem should be complex and challenging enough that multiple problem solvers (and significant effort) were required - i.e., it should be an example in which you were not the only person involved.

2.            Discuss each of the four principal elements as they relate to your example, using specific details from this experience to illustrate your comments and descriptions. At a minimum, you should:

a)      Discuss the progression of opportunity in your example, i.e., was the problem solving opportunity originally revealed to, sought by, or made by you? How did this occur and what was the impact on you and the others involved?

b)      Discuss your motives in solving this problem and relate them to the "types" of motives (from Freud) discussed in class. Also, how do you generally use motive to filter and prioritize the tasks you face (e.g., which motives are strongest/weakest for you)? What do you do when your motives are insufficient for or mismatched with a problem?

c)       Identify and discuss the key cognitive levels (both potential and manifest) that were required to solve the problem - and how well suited (or not) you were to provide those levels. That is, did your potential and manifest levels (both type and degree) match the problem or not? If not, how did you respond? Provide details to illustrate and support your analysis.

d)      Consider your cognitive style: you may not have an accurate assessment of this element available yet, but you should still be able to comment on your perceptions of the style required to solve the problem and how well matched to those requirements you were/are.

3.            Finally, please respond to these questions:

a. Why is it important to separate cognitive level (both type and degree) and cognitivestyle in considering the means needed to solve a particular problem? What problems can occur when they are confounded? In the problem solving experience you are analyzing, was there any evidence of level/style confusion (on your part or the part of others)? If so, describe its impact; if not, comment on why you think this confusion did not occur.

NOTE: The length of Task 1 is expected to be at least 4-5 pages, double-spaced.

 Task 2

Next, let's turn to another key concept and mental "tool" to crack difficult problems - and one that may help hold together many of the new concepts we are learning: i.e., the Paradox of Structure.

1. To explore this concept, begin by identifying and discussing a practical example of aparadigm (based on Kuhn's original definition) that you encounter in your daily life (personal or professional), describing in detail how it meets the criteria discussed in Lesson 2.

2. Then, using Kirton's notion of the Paradox of Structure, discuss in detail how the paradigm you have identified both enables and limits the problem solving efforts of its practitioners (including you!).

NOTE: The length of Task 2 is expected to be at least 3-4 pages, double-spaced.




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