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ENG 111: College Composition I (Cook-Loudoun)

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Problem/Solution Essay


Depending on your purpose, a written argument can involve different types of claims. Factual claims are concerned with whether something is true or false. Value claims are concerned with whether something is good or bad. And policy claims, which encompass the previous two, are concerned with what should (or should not) be done.

In academic and professional settings, writers are often asked to comment on some kind of policy—that is, to propose a solution to a particular problem. Complicating this effort is the fact that many readers may not share our knowledge and beliefs. We therefore need to think carefully about whom our audience might include. What information will they need? What questions, doubts, and/or objections might they raise? What are the merits of their perspective(s) compared to our own? What tone should we adopt? If we consider such questions carefully when outlining, drafting, and revising our writing, we’re more likely to persuade readers to adopt our point of view.


Your thesis will take the form of the following statement: “I would like X to understand Y so that they will (or will not) do Z.”

  • X = a specific person or group of people—that is, your audience
  • Y = a specific local problem—that is, a problem affecting the NOVA region
  • Z = a specific action your audience can take to solve or reduce the problem

In other words, your job as the writer is to inspire your reader to do or stop doing something, which entails persuading them…

  1. …that the problem exists;
  2. …that the problem matters;
  3. …that your solution is feasible and effective;
  4. …that other solutions are less feasible and/or effective.

To do all this requires extensive research; therefore, this essay must incorporate a minimum of five (5) outside sources. Keep in mind, however, that different topics/arguments call for different types and amounts of information.

For more detailed information, please review the attached Assignment Overview and/or contact your instructor.