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How to Write a Problem Solution Paper

Last Updated: July 22, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Stephanie Wong Ken, MFA . Stephanie Wong Ken is a writer based in Canada. Stephanie's writing has appeared in Joyland, Catapult, Pithead Chapel, Cosmonaut's Avenue, and other publications. She holds an MFA in Fiction and Creative Writing from Portland State University. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 144,369 times.

A problem solution paper focuses on a particular problem or set of problems. As the essay writer, you will then need to come up with a solution or several solutions to the stated problem. Problem solution papers are common on exams, as they allow you to explore an issue and use critical thinking to respond with a solution. To write a problem solution paper, start by outlining the paper. Then, follow the structure of a problem solution paper and polish the paper so it is at its best when you turn it in.

Starting the Paper

Step 1 Identify the situation.

  • For example, you may have a main situation like, “obesity and poor fitness,” or “trigger warnings on college campuses.”
  • If you get to choose the situation, make a list of groups you belong to, such as “school,” “family,” “race,” “culture”,” or “local community.” Then, identify a situation or issue you have encountered as a member of one of these groups.

Step 2 Determine the key components of the paper.

  • In the situation component, you will paraphrase the prompt of the paper in your own words.
  • In the problem component, you will state the problem or problems and explain what they are in your own words.
  • In the solution component, you will state your solution or solutions to the problem. You will also explain how it will address the problem.
  • In the evaluation component, you will list the main ideas in the paper and offer a prediction or recommendation based on your solution to the problem.
  • There will only be one situation presented to you in the prompt for the paper. You can then have multiple problems and multiple solutions that link back to the situation.

Step 3 Use the block structure for the outline.

  • Introduction section, where you discuss the situation
  • Transition sentence or paragraph
  • Conclusion section, where you discuss the evaluation

Step 4 Try the chain structure for the outline.

  • Problem 1 and Solution to Problem 1
  • Problem 2 and Solution to Problem 2
  • Problem 3 and Solution to Problem 3

Writing the Paper

Step 1 State the situation in your own words.

  • For example, if the situation in the paper prompt is “obesity and poor fitness,” you may focus on specific aspects of the situation in the introduction. You may look at how the consumption of unhealthy food and the overuse of cars plays into obesity and poor fitness in society.

Step 2 Research the problem or problems.

  • If you cannot find a lot of outside material on the problem, you can collect your own data for the paper. Do this by making a survey that you give to people who are affected by the problem. You can also interview people associated with the problem, or with possible solutions.
  • For example, if you were researching the problem “trigger warnings on college campuses,” you may interview college representatives at your university or college. You may also talk to students on campus.
  • Most problem solution papers written for exams do not require you to cite any outside sources. You may need to cite your sources if you are writing the problem solution paper for a class.

Step 3 Create a strong...

  • For example, if you were writing about the situation “obesity and poor fitness,” you may have the following thesis statement: “Obesity and poor fitness can lead to a decrease in life expectancy, and it is essential that individuals and governments work together to tackle this issue by improving their citizen's diet and fitness.”

Step 4 Identify your solutions.

  • For example, you may come up with a solution that addresses a lack of resources by adding support, money, or more staff. Or you may come up with a solution that addresses the problem by changing an existing practice or habit.

Step 5 Support your solutions with specific examples.

  • For example, if one of your solutions to the problem of obesity and poor fitness is to encourage people to cook at home, you may list a few specific ways people can do this. You may suggest that national eating healthy at home campaign is created, offering recipes online that take less than 30 minutes to prepare at home.

Step 6 Wrap up the paper with an evaluation.

  • For example, you may end up a call to action like, “With rising levels of obesity in our country, it is essential that we take action now to address this serious issue.”

Polishing the Paper

Step 1 Confirm the paper follows a clear structure or outline.

  • You can create a reverse outline using your paper as a guide, where you go through each section and confirm it follows the outline you started with.

Step 2 Check for spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

  • You can also show the paper to a peer, friend, or family member and get them to proofread it for you.

Step 3 Revise the paper to fit the word count.

  • If you are writing the problem solution paper for a class assignment, you may still have a set word count. Check that your paper falls within this word count.
  • ↑ https://www.jccc.edu/student-resources/academic-resource-center/writing-center/files/problem-solution-paper.pdf
  • ↑ http://www.eapfoundation.com/writing/essays/problemsolution/
  • ↑ https://grammar.yourdictionary.com/grammar/writing/how-to-write-a-problem-solution-essay.html
  • ↑ https://www.shsu.edu/centers/academic-success-center/writing/handouts/modes/essays/9.-.Problem.Solution.Essay.pdf
  • ↑ https://clt.library.jwu.edu/c.php?g=1028305&p=7459493
  • ↑ https://clt.library.jwu.edu/c.php?g=1028305&p=7459493#s-lg-box-wrapper-27749528

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About This Article

Stephanie Wong Ken, MFA

A problem solution paper focuses on a particular issue and should include one or more solutions to it. You’ll need to begin the paper by stating the situation in your own words. For example, the situation could be “obesity and core fitness.” Include a thesis statement at the end of your introduction, which could be something like, “Obesity can lead to decreased life expectancy, making it imperative for governments and people to tackle this issue by improving diet and fitness.” The following sections should deal with identifying all of the problems arising from the situation and proposing solutions to them. Try to give examples to explain each solution. For instance, if you say the growth of obesity can be stopped by improving people’s diets, you could propose a national healthy eating campaign. Finally, you should conclude by evaluating the whole paper and making recommendations about how to implement your solutions. For tips from our Writing co-author on how to plan an outline for your problem solving paper, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Future Problem Solving

Community Problem Solving

Ever thought about making a difference in your community.

Community Problem Solving (CmPS) bridges the gap between school and the real world. Students involved in CmPS learn powerful lessons about creating change, dealing with local authorities and organizations, and making a positive impact. In CmPS, students initiate a project by identifying real problems and implementing real solutions in their community – local, state, national, or even global. CmPS projects are student-driven and produce young leaders ready to solve problems they may encounter throughout their lives. Top projects are invited to the International Conference, held each year in June.

CmPS and Project Management

FPS received a grant from the Project Management Institute Education Foundation in 2023. As part of this grant, FPS has created a “Guide to Project Management Implementation in CmPS”. The Guide includes tools to support CmPSers through project documentation and competition. Click here to download your FREE copy >>

Community Problem Solving Students

Why Community Problem Solving?

Community Problem Solving (CmPS) is a component of the Future Problem Solving (FPS) program, in which students initiate a project by identifying real problems and implementing real solutions in a community. CmPS projects are student-driven and produce young leaders ready to solve problems they may encounter throughout their lives.

Community Problem Solving: – engages students in the real world using independent thought and action – asks students to apply the problem solving process to real and current problems in their communities – stimulates critical and creative thinking skills – fosters collaboration and teamwork – develops cultural agility – encourages students to develop a vision for community improvement

Students who complete CmPS projects see many benefits, such as: – opportunities for real life application of critical and creative thinking – practice identifying and addressing real problems – an increase in self-efficacy and agency – increased engagement in their local communities – the development of project management skills – more choice and voice in their own learning – community service beyond service learning or volunteer hours – deep, authentic learning and application of the problem-solving process

And importantly, students develop agency through the implementation of the problem solving process within their communities.

The Future Problem Solving Process in CmPS

In CmPS, the Global Issues Problem Solving model is adapted. In Global Issues Problem Solving, another FPS component, students follow a definite linear progression from one step to the next. In CmPS, the process might be considered circular, with neither a beginning or end. The creative problem solving process easily applies to the real world. The steps are adapted as students will use these steps through planning and implementing their Action Plan. Students will revisit the problem solving process many times throughout the project.

How to Select a Project?

In Community Problem Solving, students decide the focus of their project. Coaches assist, guide, and facilitate the discussions and decision making, but do not determine a project’s focus. Student agency is key to successful implementation of Community Problem Solving. This component allows students opportunities to realize their power in creating lasting change within their communities.

Genuine student interest should guide the identification of an issue for a project’s focus. Topics often emerge from personal experiences and a personal connection from the student(s) often improves engagement and commitment.

Guiding Questions While Choosing a Project Focus/Topic: – Is the topic/area of concern student initiated? – Is the team inspired to make real change? – Will this topic sustain our interest for the long term, or the entire school year? – Is the team passionate about this? – Do we see a pathway to make a measurable impact? – Will there be community support for the project?

Choosing a Community Focus: Students determine the specific community that will be the focus of their efforts. It can vary considerably in size. Coaches can help guide students to determine how to narrow down the scope of the project.

CmPS Project Elements

There are three elements for project completion. Each element builds on or supplements the previous element. All three elements are required for the International Conference. Affiliates may have different requirements for Affiliate Competition.

The Project Proposal: In the Proposal, students analyze their Area of Concern and develop the Action Plan they intend to implement in their identified community.

The Project Report: Students describe the implementation of their Action Plan, and how they adapted their plans as needed, and how they impacted their community.

Supporting Materials: Students complete a Portfolio, create a Promotional Video, develop a physical Display, and participate in an Interview. Students use these elements to creatively present their project in multiple media.

Students are evaluated on each element throughout the Proposal, Report, and Supporting Materials. Student work is evaluated based on the criteria within the scoresheet. The criteria are separated by categories or steps within the evaluated element. Student work will be evaluated holistically for creativity, student engagement, the use of the problem-solving process, and communication.

Global Future Problem Solvers

FPS Students from more than 37 states and 14 countries .

Over 250,000 students globally have participated in the last decade

Over 250,000 students globally have participated in the last decade!

Promotes Written and Verbal communication skills

Promotes both Written and Verbal communication skills .

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Supported by

A Really Good Thing Happening in America

A strategy for community problem-solving does an extraordinary job at restoring our social fabric.

community problem solving paper

By David Brooks

Opinion Columnist

Not long ago, in Spartanburg, S.C., I visited the offices of something called the Spartanburg Academic Movement (SAM). The walls were lined with charts measuring things like kindergarten readiness, third-grade reading scores and postsecondary enrollment.

Around the table was just about anybody in town who might touch a child’s life. There were school superintendents and principals, but there were also the heads of the Chamber of Commerce and the local United Way, the police chief, a former mayor and the newspaper editor.

The people at SAM track everything they can measure about Spartanburg’s young people from cradle to career. They gather everybody who might have any influence upon this data — parents, religious leaders, doctors, nutrition experts, etc.

And then together, as a communitywide system, they ask questions: Where are children falling off track? Why? What assets do we have in our system that can be applied to this problem? How can we work together to apply those assets?

There are a lot of things I love about this approach.

[Discover the most compelling features, reporting and humor writing from The New York Times Opinion section, selected by our editors. Sign up for the Sunday Best newsletter.]

First, it understands that life is longitudinal. Sometimes social policies are distorted by the tyranny of randomized controlled experiments. Everybody is looking for the one magic intervention that will have a measurable effect.

But life isn’t like that. Our actual lives are influenced by millions of events that interact in mysterious ways. And when life is going well it’s because dozens of influences are flowing together and reinforcing one another. SAM tries to harness those dozens of influences.

Second, SAM treats the whole person. “The disease of modern character is specialization,” Wendell Berry once wrote. Sometimes schools treat students as brains on a stick who come to be filled with skills and information.

But children don’t leave behind their emotions, their diet, their traumas, their safety fears, their dental problems and so on when they get to school. If you’re going to help kids, you have to help the whole kid all at once.

Third, and maybe most important, SAM embodies a new civic architecture, which has become known as the “collective impact” approach. Americans feel alienated from and distrustful toward most structures of authority these days, but this is one they can have faith in.

SAM organizes the community of Spartanburg around a common project. Then it creates an informal authority structure that transcends public-sector/private-sector lines, that rallies cops and churches, the grass roots and the grass tops. Members put data in the center and use it as a tool not for competition but for collaboration. Like the best social service organizations, it is high on empathy and high on engineering. It is local, participatory and comprehensive.

SAM is not a lone case. Spartanburg is one of 70 communities around the country that use what is called the StriveTogether method. StriveTogether began in Cincinnati just over a decade ago. A few leaders were trying to improve education in the city and thinking of starting another program. But a Procter & Gamble executive observed, “We’re program-rich, but system-poor.” In other words, Cincinnati had plenty of programs. What it lacked was an effective system to coordinate them.

A methodology was born: organize around the data, focus on the assets of the community, not the deficits; realize there is no one silver-bullet solution; create a “backbone organization” (like SAM) that can bring all the players together; coordinate decision-making and action; share accountability.

At one point the folks in Cincinnati noticed that their students were not coming prepared for kindergarten. The data suggested that the private pre-K programs were performing better than the public ones. So the public school system allocated some of its money to support other, private programs , making Cincinnati one of the first American cities to offer near-universal preschool. That’s a community working as one.

Collective impact structures got their name in 2011, when John Kania and Mark Kramer wrote an influential essay for the Stanford Social Innovation Review in which they cited StriveTogether and provided the philosophical and theoretical basis for this kind of approach.

Such structures are now being used to address homelessness, hunger, river cleanup and many other social ills. Collective impact approaches have had their critics over the years, in part for putting too much emphasis on local elites and not enough on regular parents (which is fair).

But a recent study led by Sarah Stachowiak and Jewlya Lynn of 25 collective impact initiatives found that these approaches do work, at least most of the time. StriveTogether, which is now led by Jennifer Blatz, is thriving. It’s just received a significant financial infusion from Connie and Steve Ballmer, of the Ballmer Group.

Frankly, I don’t need studies about outcomes to believe that these collective impact approaches are exciting and potentially revolutionary. Trust is built and the social fabric is repaired when people form local relationships around shared tasks.

Building working relationships across a community is an intrinsically good thing. You do enough intrinsically good things and lives will be improved in ways you can never plan or predict. This is where our national renewal will come from.

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter (@NYTopinion) , and sign up for the Opinion Today newsletter .

An earlier version of this article misspelled part of a philanthropic organization assisting StriveTogether. It is the Ballmer Group, not the Balmer Group.

How we handle corrections

David Brooks has been a columnist with The Times since 2003. He is the author of “The Road to Character” and the forthcoming book, “The Second Mountain.” @ nytdavidbrooks

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Free Community Problems Essay

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Social Issues , Problem Solving , Youth , Children , Violence , Crime , Community , Family

Published: 12/02/2019


Community Problem solving Paper

Problem solving is a psychological method that identifies problems and finds ways of solving them. It is a process of discovering and analyzing a problem in a given community in a bid to come up with a solution to this problem. Problem solving involves some steps referred to as problem solving cycle by researchers. This includes strategy development and knowledge organization, though people tend to skip some steps to reach a desired solution (Cherry, 2011). Problem solving therefore involves: 1) Problem identification. This is the process of realizing existence of certain problem. This is not a simple task and requires some time since problem solving depends on how well the problem is identified.2) Problem definition-in order for a problem to be solved, it has to be well defined.3) Formation of strategy. A strategy that is to be followed in problem solving is then formed. This depends on the problem situation and individuals.4) Organizing the information. This involves collection of enough and available information. This helps in preparation in aid of finding a lasting solution.5) Resource allocation. Here, resources include time and money where problem solving becomes a priority. It depends on how important a problem is and therefore more resources should be allocated in solving this problem.6) Monitoring of progress. For effective problem solving exercise, the progress should be monitored and see whether the strategies used will meet the required goals.7) Results evaluation. Upon reaching a solution, evaluation of the results should be done which determines if the solution made suits the problem (Cherry, 2011). One of the problems that a community faces is crime related problems. Crime is referred as violation of law. This calls for law enforcers to use legal action to combat crime. Of the most crime observed in communities is violence against children including sexual abuse, murder and abduction (National Crime Prevention Council, 2001). In my community, cases of children violence are very rampant. This has led to community-based programs to come to the aid of these children. Koinonia Community is one of the programs in our community that teach youth on violence and how to solve a problem through making a critical decision. Recently, study conducted shows that many children spend most of their precious time thinking about violence. The strategy used by the Koinonia Community Program is to teach children on how to say no to violent reaction to conflict. This engages them to solving problems in a positive and nonviolent way. Koinonia program also helps the youth to deal with problems of drug abuse, sexual abuse and other related crimes. At Koinonia, youth are empowered through thinking critically and provided with skills that help them in decision-making in an attempt to shun temptations that may influence vices. Violence among children has also concerned the law enforcers and initiatives have been created to solve this problem. One of the initiatives that have seen a success to problem solving is the community policing. This is an effort by the police and the community to collaborate in problem identification in a given community and search for a lasting solution (National Crime Prevention Council, 2001). For a community to benefit from community policing, it has to come out and report all manners of crime to help the police to their investigations. Community policing involves three components. These include problem solving, change management and partnership. In partnership process of problem solving the police and the community must come together in fighting crime. Problem solving identifies problems and comes out with a lasting solution to a problem. In change management, the police department to enable the community involve themselves. Problem Oriented Policing (P.O.P) is method used by police to come up with long-term results to crime related problems. In my community, police and the Koinonia community program are working together in crime identification and determine the main causes of the problem. On conducting an interview with the Koinonia program coordinator, Mr.Calvin Claine confirmed to me that community has embraced this program and are coming out in numbers to protect their children from crime. He says that the police department has taken actions against the perpetrators of children violence. According to the police department, crime has declined drastically and mainly due to the establishment of the community policing strategies. Mr. Calvin says they have strategies that help the program to be a success. These include; influencing the youth by offering special skills to combat violence and teach them that violence is a behavior that can be learned. The Koinonia program collaborates together with different other organizations in different communities such as the youth groups and churches in a bid to combat violence and promote communications skills and effect positivity in decision making in children and the youth. In addition, the program engages the youth in activities that will alleviate their mind from violence and promote togetherness in their homes and the community at large. Mr. Calvin claims that the empowerment of the youth is the main if not the only way out to violence prevention (National Crime Prevention Council, 2001). On conclusion, the policy makers should enact laws that support the children protection. Otherwise, the whole generation will go to the dogs meaning that the youth will not be people to count on in the near future. Moreover, parents should come out and teach their children morals that help them to live peacefully with every member of the community.

Cherry, K. (2011). What Is Problem Solving? Retrieved from: http://psychology.about.com/od/problemsolving/f/problem-solving-steps.htm National Crime Prevention Council. (2001). Strategy: Violence Prevention And Problem Solving Education For Children. Retrieved from: http://www.ncpc.org/topics/bullying/strategies/strategy-violence-prevention-and-problem-solving-education-for-children


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How to Write a Problem Solution Paper

How to Write a Problem Solution Paper

Problem Solution Paper: How to Write

In adult life, every day people face various problems and conflicts at work or in the lives of their friends, relatives, or their own. It’s crucial to learn and be able to solve problems and to have troubleshooting skills to ease situations. Tutors in universities or colleges try to teach students how to do that by asking them to complete problem-solution research papers as a great way to boost their problem-solving and writing skills. Proposing a solution essay as a type of paper is common on exams to check student’s critical thinking and ability to respond with a solution. To reach a solution you need to learn to work through details and find ways to solve problems quickly and effectively. To make the writing of problem-solving papers simple follow the next steps.

Step One: Defining the Problem and Choosing a Problem Solution Research Topic

When asked to write a problem and solution essay you might be assigned to a situation to write about or be allowed to choose one. If the second happens – try to think about someone or something that bothers, annoys, or irritates you, and in case you thought about a solution for that before it could be a topic for your essay; as an alternative – make a list of groups you think you belong to (such as family, school, sports teams, hobby buddies, etc.) and identify issues you have faced as a member, choose one that needs to be and can be solved practically and create a community problem-solving paper. You can also choose the topic for your essay from this list.

Step Two: Brainstorming and Research

Think about the problem or the issue you have chosen and ask yourself: why it matters, why it’s a problem, and how it can be solved. Try to understand and clarify what you know about the problem and what a potential solution could be. To ease your research or writing create questions. Try to find answers by looking for some information in scholarly journals online, academic texts, or, perhaps, in your own library, ask for help from people that you think might help you with the answers to your questions. Try to spot facts and statistics to make the problem more vivid to the readers. You can make a survey and interview the people that you think faced similar problems. In this type of paper, the point of view of the second person is efficient to be used. Read as much as possible about the topic you are going to write. In case of using outside sources, you may need to cite them. Good research will benefit you with a solid solution to the problem.

Step Three: Understanding the Complexity and Deciding on the Best Solution

If a problem is simple a solution is obvious. In case of a difficult problem, it takes some work to find a solution. It’s a good idea to create a sort of mind map or outline to understand all possible causes of the problem. Describe the factors that may be a part of the problem as many as possible. Study all potential causes of the problem that may be relevant to the factors. Create a diagram of the factors and causes, how they are connected and analyze it. Depending on the complexity of the problem you can do an investigation by analyzing causes and also surveys you’ve done before. Use specific examples and facts to support your solution and mention that you have taken to concerns the solutions of others if it happens to find them while you do your research. Try to convince your target audience that your solution is cost-effective doable, and the most effective.

Step Four: Writing an Essay

Being able to organize yourself is a very important part when writing a problem and solution essay. The structure of a problem-solving essay is the same as the structure of an ordinary academic paper.

  • Introduction

Develop a strong thesis for your paper, that will appear in the introduction and the conclusion of your essay, the statement that will outline the problem and problem solution paper ideas that your essay will cover in one or two sentences. When the thesis is ready it’s time to start an introduction. The paragraph that includes a reader’s attention grabber. Interest your reader in the problem by giving a frame of the story and explaining how the problem developed and why it’s important and needs to be solved. The tone of your paper should be reasonable, rational, logical, and thoughtful.

Contain at least two or three paragraphs in the body of your paper proposing possible solutions and explaining those that wouldn’t work. Offer the solution that you think is the best. Explain your solution clearly with details. Use evidence that your solution will work by providing supporting details: statistics, studies, arguments, and all the notes you have from your previous research. Show your troubleshooting skills and why your solution is reasonable. Describe how you will implement your solution.

The conclusion should briefly emphasize the importance of the problem and sum up the proposed solution in one or more paragraphs. Explain how the situation will change if your solution is adopted. An effective way to convince your audience is to talk about the results of the problem if it remains unresolved. End your essay with a strong call to action, agitate, and motivate the reader to become involved.

Finally, write your first draft, leave your paper for some time, and get back to it later, review your work and make sure it has all the components of a problem-solution paper and follows the structure. It should identify the problem and the solution, a thesis shall appear in the introduction and the conclusion. Check for spelling, punctuation, and grammar mistakes by reading aloud to yourself or it’s a good idea to ask a friend to proofread it for you to avoid missing out on anything that needs editing. Stay focused, creative, and original, follow the steps above, and your writing process will be smooth, simple, and flow freely.

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Public bus transit systems provide critical transportation services for large sections of modern communities. On-time performance and maintaining the reliable quality of service is therefore very important. Unfortunately, disruptions caused by overcrowding, vehicular failures, and road accidents often lead to service performance degradation. Though transit agencies keep a limited number of vehicles in reserve and dispatch them to relieve the affected routes during disruptions, the procedure is often ad-hoc and has to rely on human experience and intuition to allocate resources (vehicles) to affected trips under uncertainty. In this paper, we describe a principled approach using non-myopic sequential decision procedures to solve the problem and decide (a) if it is advantageous to anticipate problems and proactively station transit buses near areas with high-likelihood of disruptions and (b) decide if and which vehicle to dispatch to a particular problem. Our approach was developed in partnership with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for a mid-sized city in the USA and models the system as a semi-Markov decision problem (solved as a Monte-Carlo tree search procedure) and shows that it is possible to obtain an answer to these two coupled decision problems in a way that maximizes the overall reward (number of people served). We sample many possible futures from generative models, each is assigned to a tree and processed using root parallelization. We validate our approach using 3 years of data from our partner agency. Our experiments show that the proposed framework serves 2% more passengers while reducing deadhead miles by 40%.

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Computer Science > Computation and Language

Title: mathscale: scaling instruction tuning for mathematical reasoning.

Abstract: Large language models (LLMs) have demonstrated remarkable capabilities in problem-solving. However, their proficiency in solving mathematical problems remains inadequate. We propose MathScale, a simple and scalable method to create high-quality mathematical reasoning data using frontier LLMs (e.g., {\tt GPT-3.5}). Inspired by the cognitive mechanism in human mathematical learning, it first extracts topics and knowledge points from seed math questions and then build a concept graph, which is subsequently used to generate new math questions. MathScale exhibits effective scalability along the size axis of the math dataset that we generate. As a result, we create a mathematical reasoning dataset (MathScaleQA) containing two million math question-answer pairs. To evaluate mathematical reasoning abilities of LLMs comprehensively, we construct {\sc MwpBench}, a benchmark of Math Word Problems, which is a collection of ten datasets (including GSM8K and MATH) covering K-12, college, and competition level math problems. We apply MathScaleQA to fine-tune open-source LLMs (e.g., LLaMA-2 and Mistral), resulting in significantly improved capabilities in mathematical reasoning. Evaluated on {\sc MwpBench}, MathScale-7B achieves state-of-the-art performance across all datasets, surpassing its best peers of equivalent size by 42.9\% in micro average accuracy and 43.7\% in macro average accuracy, respectively.

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  • Section 2. Thinking Critically

Chapter 17 Sections

  • Section 1. An Introduction to the Problem-Solving Process
  • Section 3. Defining and Analyzing the Problem
  • Section 4. Analyzing Root Causes of Problems: The "But Why?" Technique
  • Section 5. Addressing Social Determinants of Health and Development
  • Section 6. Generating and Choosing Solutions
  • Section 7. Putting Your Solution into Practice
  • Main Section

What is critical thinking?

Why is critical thinking important, who can (and should) learn to think critically, how do you help people learn to think critically.

Suppose an elected official makes a speech in which he says, "The government doesn't need to be involved in cleaning up pollution from manufacturing. Business can take care of this more efficiently." What's your reaction?

There are a lot of questions you can be asking here, some of which you may already know the answers to. First, what are the assumptions behind this person's statement? How does he view the job of government, for instance? What's his attitude toward business? Does he believe pollution is a real threat to the environment?

Next, you might want to consider the official's biases. What party does this politician belong to, and what's that party's position on pollution regulation? What state is he from -- one with a lot of industry that contributes to acid rain and other pollution? What's his voting record on environmental issues? Is he receiving contributions from major polluters? Does he live in a place that's seriously affected by pollution? What does he know about the science involved? (What do you know about the science involved?) Does he have any knowledge or expertise in this area at all?

Finally, you might want answers to some questions about the context of the statement. What's the record of private industry over the last 10 years in cleaning up its own pollution without government intervention, for instance? What does pollution look like now, as compared to before the government regulated it? For that matter, when did government regulation start? What effect did it have? Perhaps even more important, who will benefit if these ideas are accepted? Who will lose? What will the result be if things are changed in the direction this politician suggests? Are those results good for the country?

If you ask the kinds of questions suggested here when you see new information, or consider a situation or a problem or an issue, you're using critical thinking. Critical thinking is tremendously important in health, human service, and community work because it allows you to understand the actual issues involved, and to come up with an approach that is likely to address them effectively.

There are many definitions of critical thinking. Some see it as a particular way of handling information. Others look at it as a specific set of skills and abilities. People interested in political and social change see it as challenging and providing alternatives to the generally accepted beliefs and values of the power structure. They're all right to an extent: critical thinking is all of these things, and more.

Critical thinking is the process of examining, analyzing, questioning, and challenging situations, issues, and information of all kinds. We use it when we raise questions about:

  • Survey results
  • Personal comments
  • Media stories
  • Our own personal relationships
  • Scientific research
  • Political statements
  • And (especially) conventional wisdom, general assumptions, and the pronouncements of authority

Critical thinking is an important tool in solving community problems and in developing interventions or initiatives in health, human services, and community development.

Elements of critical thinking

There are a number of ways to look at the process of critical thinking. Brookfield presents several, with this one being perhaps the simplest.

  • Problem/goal identification : What is the real issue here?
  • Diagnosis: Given all the information we have, what's the best way to deal with this issue?
  • Exploration: How do we do what we decided on, and who will make it happen?
  • Action: Do it!
  • Reflection: Did it work? If so, how can it work better? If not, what went wrong, and how can we fix it? What have we learned here that might be valuable in the future?

Reflection leads you to the consideration of another problem or goal, and the cycle begins again.

Critical thinking involves being thrown into the questioning mode by an event or idea that conflicts with your understanding of the world and makes you uncomfortable. If you allow yourself to respond to the discomfort -- that's partially an issue of personal development -- you'll try to figure out where it comes from, and to come up with other ways to understand the situation. Ultimately, if you persist, you'll have a new perspective on the event itself, and will have broken through to a more critical understanding.

Goals of critical thinking

  • Truth: to separate what is true from what is false, or partially true, or incomplete, or slanted, or based on false premises, or assumed to be true because "everyone says so."
  • Context: to consider the context and history of issues, problems, or situations.
  • Assumptions: to understand the assumptions and purposes behind information or situations.
  • Alternatives: to create ways of approaching problems, issues, and situations that address the real, rather than assumed or imagined, factors that underlie or directly cause them -- even when those factors turn out to be different from what you expected.
The word "critical" here means approaching everything as if you were a critic -- questioning it, analyzing it, putting it in context, looking at its origins. The aim is to understand it on its deepest level. "Everything" includes yourself: thinking critically includes identifying, admitting, and examining your own assumptions and prejudices, and understanding how they change your reactions to and your interpretation of information. It also means being willing to change your ideas and conclusions -- and actions -- if an objective view shows that they're wrong or ineffective. This last point is important. In health, human service, and community work, the main goal of thinking critically is almost always to settle on an action that will have some desired effect. Critical examination of the situation and the available information could lead to anything from further study to organizing a strike, but it should lead to something. Once you've applied critical thinking to an issue, so that you understand what's likely to work, you have to take action to change the situation.

Without thinking critically, you're only looking at the surface of things. When you come across a politician's statement in the media, do you accept it at face value? Do you accept some people's statements and not others'? The chances are you exercise at least some judgment, based on what you know about the particular person, and whether you generally agree with her or not.

Knowing whether or not you agree with someone is not necessarily the same as critical thinking, however. Your reaction may be based on emotion ("I hate that guy!"), or on the fact that this elected official supports programs that are in your interest, even though they may not be in the best interests of everyone else. What's important about critical thinking is that it helps you to sort out what's accurate and what's not, and to give you a solid, factual base for solving problems or addressing issues.

Specific reasons for the importance of critical thinking:

  • It identifies bias. Critical thinking identifies both the bias in what it looks at (its object), and the biases you yourself bring to it. If you can address these honestly, and adjust your thinking accordingly, you'll be able to see the object in light of the way it's slanted, and to understand your own biases in your reaction to it.

A bias is not necessarily bad: it is simply a preferred way of looking at things. You can be racially biased, but you can also be biased toward looking at all humans as one family. You can be biased toward a liberal or conservative political point of view, or toward or against tolerance. Regardless of whether most of us would consider a particular bias good or bad, not seeing it can limit how we resolve a problem or issue.

  • It's oriented toward the problem, issue, or situation that you're addressing. Critical thinking focuses on analyzing and understanding its object. It eliminates, to the extent possible, emotional reactions, except where they become part of an approach or solution.
It's just about impossible to eliminate emotions, or to divorce them from your own deeply-held assumptions and beliefs. You can, however, try to understand that they're present, and to analyze your own emotional reactions and those of others in the situation. There are different kinds of emotional reactions. If all the evidence points to something being true, your emotional reaction that it's not true isn't helpful, no matter how badly you want to believe it. On the other hand, if a proposed solution involves harming a particular group of people "for the good of the majority", an emotional reaction that says "we can't let this happen" may be necessary to change the situation so that its benefits can be realized without harm to anyone. Emotions that allow you to deny reality generally produce undesirable results; emotions that encourage you to explore alternatives based on principles of fairness and justice can produce very desirable results.
  • It gives you the whole picture. Critical thinking never considers anything in a vacuum. Its object has a history, a source, a context. Thinking critically allows you to bring these into play, thus getting more than just the outline of what you're examining, and making a realistic and effective solution to a problem more likely.
  • It brings in other necessary factors. Some of the things that affect the object of critical thought -- previous situations, personal histories, general assumptions about an issue -- may need to be examined themselves. Critical thinking identifies them and questions them as well.
During the mid-90's debate in the United States over welfare reform, much fuss was made over the amount of federal money spent on welfare. Few people realized, however, that the whole entitlement program accounted for less than 2% of the annual federal budget. During the height of the debate, Americans surveyed estimated the amount of their taxes going to welfare at as much as 60%. Had they examined the general assumptions they were using, they might have thought differently about the issue.
  • It considers both the simplicity and complexity of its object. A situation or issue may have a seemingly simple explanation or resolution, but it may rest on a complex combination of factors. Thinking critically unravels the relationships among these, and determines what level of complexity needs to be dealt with in order to reach a desired conclusion.
  • It gives you the most nearly accurate view of reality. The whole point of critical thinking is to construct the most objective view available. 100% objectivity may not be possible, but the closer you can get, the better.
  • Most important, for all the above reasons, it is most likely to help you get the results you want. The closer you are to dealing with things as they really are, the more likely you are to be able to address a problem or issue with some hope of success.
In more general terms, the real value of critical thinking is that it's been at the root of all human progress. The first ancestor of humans who said to himself, "We've always made bone tools, but they break awfully easily. I bet we could make tools out of something else. What if I tried this rock?" was using critical thinking. So were most of the social, artistic, and technological groundbreakers who followed. You'd be hard pressed to find an advance in almost any area of humanity's development that didn't start with someone looking at the way things were and saying "It doesn't have to be that way. What if we looked at it from another angle?"

The answer here is everyone, from children to senior citizens. Even small children can learn about such things as cause and effect -- a specific event having a specific result -- through a combination of their own experimentation and experience and of being introduced to more complex ideas by others.

Accepted wisdom, perhaps dispensed by a teacher or other authority figure, is, however, often the opposite of critical thinking, which relies on questioning. In many schools, for example, critical thinkers are, if not punished, stifled because of their "disruptive " need to question (and thereby challenge authority). Interestingly enough, the more a school costs -- whether it's a well-funded public school in an affluent community, or an expensive private school -- the more apt it is to encourage and teach critical thinking. Such schools see themselves, and are seen by their students' parents, as trainers of leaders...and leaders need to know how to think.

Many adults exercise critical thinking as a matter of course. Many more know how, but for various reasons -- fear, perceived self-interest, deeply held prejudices or unexamined beliefs -- choose not to. Still more, perhaps a majority, are capable of learning to think critically, but haven't been taught or exposed to the experiences that would have allowed them to learn on their own.

It is this last group that is both most in need of, and most receptive to, learning to think critically. It often includes people with relatively low levels of education and income who see themselves as powerless. Once they grasp the concept of critical thought, it can change their whole view of the world. Often, the experience of being involved in a community initiative or intervention provides the spur for that learning.

Critical thinking requires the capacity for abstract thought. This is the ability to think about what's not there -- to foresee future consequences and possibilities, to think about your own thinking, to imagine scenarios that haven't yet existed. Most people are capable of learning to think in this way, if given the encouragement and opportunity.
Learning to think critically is more often than not a long process. Many people have to learn to think abstractly -- itself a long process -- before they can really apply the principles of critical thinking. Even those who already have that ability are often slowed, or even stopped, by the developmental and psychological -- and sometimes the actual -- consequences of what they're being asked to do. Often, it takes a crisis of some sort, or a series of negative experiences to motivate people to be willing to think in a different way. Even then, developing the capacity for critical thinking doesn't necessarily make things better. It can alter family relationships, change attitudes toward work and community issues, and bring discord into a life where none was recognized before. Learning it takes courage. The point of all this is that, although there's a series of what we believe are effective how-to steps laid out in this section, teaching critical thinking is not magic. The reason we keep using the words "develop" and "process" is that critical thinking, if it takes root, develops over time. Don't be frustrated if many people don't seem to get it immediately: they won't.

Helping others learn to think critically can take place in a classroom -- it's essentially what higher education is all about -- but it's probably even more common in other situations. Community interventions of all kinds provide opportunities for learning, both because participants are usually involved over a period of time, and because they are often experiencing difficulties that make it clear to them that their world view isn't adequate to solve the problems they face. Many are ready to change, and welcome the chance to challenge the way things are and learn new ways of thinking.

By the same token, learning to think critically can be a frightening process. It leads you to question ideas that you may have taken for granted all your life, and to challenge authority figures whom you may have held in awe. It may push you to tackle problems you thought were insoluble. It's the intellectual equivalent of bungee jumping: once you've leaped off the bridge, there's no going back, and you have to trust that the cord will hold you.

As a result, facilitating critical thinking -- whether formally or informally -- requires more than just a knowledge of the process. It demands that you be supportive, encouraging, and honest, and that you act as role model, constantly demonstrating the process as you discuss it.

There are really three aspects of helping people develop critical thinking: how to be a facilitator for the process; how to help people develop the "critical stance," the mindset that leads them to apply critical thinking all the time; and how to help people learn to apply critical thinking to dealing with community problems and issues.

How to be a critical thinking facilitator

Stephen Brookfield has developed a 10-point guideline for facilitators of critical thinking that focuses both on the learner and the facilitator herself.

  • Affirm learners' self-worth. Critical thinking is an intellectual exercise, but it is also a matter of confidence and courage. Learners need to have the self -esteem to believe that authority figures or established beliefs could be wrong, and to challenge them. Facilitators need to encourage that self-esteem by confirming that learners' opinions matter and are worthy of respect, that they themselves have and deserve a voice.
  • Listen attentively to learners. Repeat back their words and ideas, so they know they've been heard. What they say can reveal hidden conflicts and assumptions that can then be questioned.
  • Show your support for critical thinking efforts. Reward learners for challenging assumptions, even when they're your own.
  • Reflect and mirror learners' ideas and actions. That will help to identify assumptions and biases they may not be aware of.
  • Motivate people to think critically, but help them to understand when it's appropriate to voice critical ideas and when it's not. The wrong word to the boss could get a learner fired, for example. It's important that he understand the possible consequences of talking about his conclusions before he does it.
  • Regularly evaluate progress with learners. Critical thinking involves reflection as well as action, and part of that reflection should be on the process itself.
  • Help learners create networks of support. These can include both other learners and others in the community who are learning to or who already practice and support critical thinking.
  • Be a critical teacher. Model the critical thinking process in everything you do (particularly, if you're a teacher, in the way you teach), encourage learners to challenge your assumptions and ideas, and challenge them yourself.
  • Make people aware of how they learn critical thinking. Discuss learning and thinking styles, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, learning methods, the role of previous experience, etc. The more conscious you can make people of their preferred ways of learning, the easier it will be for them to understand how they're approaching ideas and situations and to adjust if necessary.
  • Model critical thinking. Approach ideas and situations critically and, to the extent possible, explain your thinking so learners can see the process you've used to arrive at your conclusions.

How to encourage the critical stance

Developing the critical stance -- the generalized ability and disposition to apply critical thinking to whatever you encounter -- is a crucial element in teaching critical thinking. It includes recognizing assumptions -- your own and others' -- applying that recognition to questioning information and situations, and considering their context.

Recognize assumptions. Each of us has a set of assumptions -- ideas or attitudes or "facts" we take for granted -- that underlies our thinking. Only when you're willing to look at these assumptions and realize how they color your conclusions can you examine situations, problems, or issues objectively.

Assumptions are based on a number of factors -- physical, environmental, psychological, and experiential -- that we automatically, and often unconsciously, bring to bear on anything we think about. One of the first steps in encouraging the critical stance is to try to make these factors conscious. Besides direct discussion, role plays, discussions of hypothetical or relatively non-threatening real situations, and self -revelation on the facilitator's part ("Some of my own assumptions are...") can all be ways to help people think about the preconceptions they bring to any situation.

Sources of assumptions are numerous and overlapping, but the most important are:

  • Senses. The impact of the senses is so elemental that we sometimes react to it without realizing we're doing so. You may respond to a person based on smells you're barely aware of, for instance.
  • Experience. Each of us has a unique set of experiences, and they influence our responses to what we encounter. Ultimately, as critical thinkers, we have to understand both how past experience might limit our thinking in a situation, and how we can use it to see things more clearly.
  • Values. Values are deeply held beliefs -- often learned from families, schools, and peers -- about how the world should be. These "givens" may be difficult even to recognize, let alone reject. It further complicates matters that values usually concern the core issues of our lives: personal and sexual relationships, morality, gender and social roles, race, social class, and the organization of society, to name just a few.
  • Emotion. Recognizing our emotional reactions is vital to keeping them from influencing our conclusions. Anger at child abusers may get in the way of our understanding the issue clearly, for example. We can't control whether emotions come up, but we can understand how we react to them.
  • Self interest. Whether we like it or not, each of us sometimes injects what is best for ourselves into our decisions. We have to be aware when self interest gets in the way of reason, or of looking at the other interests in the situation.
  • Culture. The culture we grew up in, the culture we've adopted, the predominant culture in the society -- all have their effects on us, and push us into thinking in particular ways. Understanding how culture acts upon our and others' thinking makes it possible to look at a problem or issue in a different light.
  • History. Community history, the history of our organization or initiative, and our own history in dealing with particular problems and issues will all have an impact on the way we think about the current situation.
  • Religion. Our own religious backgrounds -- whether we still practice religion or not -- may be more powerful than we realize in influencing our thinking.
  • Biases. Very few of us, regardless of what we'd like to believe, are free of racial or ethnic prejudices of some sort, or of political, moral, and other biases that can come into play here.
  • Prior knowledge. What we know about a problem or issue, from personal experience, from secondhand accounts, or from theory, shapes our responses to it. We have to be sure, however, that what we "know" is in fact true, and relevant to the issue at hand.
  • Conventional wisdom. All of us have a large store of information "everybody knows" that we apply to new situations and problems. Unfortunately, the fact that everybody knows it doesn't make it right. Conventional wisdom is often too conventional: it usually reflects the simplest way of looking at things. We may need to step outside the conventions to look for new solutions.
This is often the case when people complain that "common sense" makes the solution to a problem obvious. Many people believe, for instance, that it is "common sense " that sex education courses for teens encourage them to have sex. The statistics show that, in fact, teens with adequate sexual information tend to be less sexually active than their uninformed counterparts.

Examine information for accuracy, assumptions, biases, or specific interests. Helping learners discuss and come up with the kinds of questions that they need to subject information to is probably the best way to facilitate here. Using current examples -- comparing various newspaper and TV news stories, for instance, to see what different aspects are emphasized, or to see how all ignore the same issues -- can also be a powerful way of demonstrating what needs to be asked. Some basic questions are:

  • What's the source of the information? Knowing where information originates can tell you a lot about what it's meant to make you believe.
  • Does the source generally produce accurate information?
  • What are the source's assumptions about the problem or issue? Does the source have a particular interest or belong to a particular group that will allow you to understand what it believes about the issue the information refers to?
  • Does the source have biases or purposes that would lead it to slant information in a particular way, or to lie outright? Politicians and political campaigns often "spin" information so that it seems to favor them and their positions. People in the community may do the same, or may "know" things that don't happen to be true.
  • Does anyone in particular stand to benefit or lose if the information is accepted or rejected? To whose advantage is it if the information is taken at face value?
  • Is the information complete? Are there important pieces missing? Does it tell you everything you need to know? Is it based on enough data to be accurate?
Making sure you have all the information can make a huge difference. Your information might be that a certain approach to this same issue worked well in a similar community. What you might not know or think to ask, however, is whether there's a reason that the same approach wouldn't work in this community. If you investigated, you might find it had been tried and failed for reasons that would doom it again. You'd need all the information before you could reasonably address the issue.
  • Is the information logically consistent? Does it make sense? Do arguments actually prove what they pretend to prove? Learning how to sort out logical and powerful arguments from inconsistent or meaningless ones is perhaps the hardest task for learners. Some helpful strategies here might include mock debates, where participants have to devise arguments for the side they disagree with; analysis of TV news programs, particularly those like "Meet the Press," where political figures defend their positions; and after-the-fact discussions of community or personal situations.
Just about anyone can come up with an example that "proves" a particular point: There's a woman down the block who cheats on welfare, so it's obvious that most welfare recipients cheat. You can't trust members of that ethnic group, because one of them stole my wallet. Neither of these examples "proves" anything, because it's based on only one instance, and there's no logical reason to assume it holds for a larger group. A former president was particularly fond of these kinds of "proofs", and as a result often proposed simplistic solutions to complex social problems. Without information that's logically consistent and at least close to complete, you can't draw conclusions that will help you effectively address an issue.
  • Is the information clear? Do you understand what you're seeing?
  • Is the information relevant to the current situation? Information may be accurate, complete, logically consistent, powerful...and useless, because it has nothing to do with what you're trying to deal with.
An AIDS prevention initiative, for instance, may find that a particular neighborhood has a large number of gay residents. However, if the HIV-positive rate in the gay community is nearly nonexistent, and the real AIDS problem in town is among IV drug users, the location of the gay community is irrelevant information.
  • Most important, is the information true? Outright lies and made-up "facts" are not uncommon in politics, community work, and other situations. Knowing the source and its interests, understanding the situation, and being sensibly skeptical can help to protect learners from acting on false information.

Consider the context of the information, problem, or issue. Examining context, in most instances, is easier to approach than the other elements of the critical stance. It involves more concrete and "objective" information, and, at least in the case of community issues, it is often information that learners already know.

Facilitating techniques might include brainstorming to identify context elements; discussing how context issues affected real situations that learners are familiar with; and asking small groups of learners to make up their own examples. The real task is making sure that they include as many different factors as possible. Some areas to be examined in considering a community issue, for instance, are:

  • The nature of the community. A big city is likely to present different solutions to a problem than a small town, and both differ from a suburb or a rural area. Understanding the resources, challenges, and peculiarities of a community is important to addressing its issues.
  • The social situation. A community may be divided among several mutually hostile ethnic or political groups, or among groups that simply have different ideas about how things should be done. There may be class, race, or other issues to deal with.
  • Individuals. Individuals can strongly influence the workings of a community, often in ways that aren't immediately apparent. People can spread or squelch rumors, create harmony or dissension, lead others toward constructive solutions or toward disorganization and ineffectiveness.
  • Cultures. Cultures -- which can be based on ethnic ties, religion, class, or other factors (think of the jocks, preppies, punks, skaters, and other groups in a high school)-- can create alliances or divisions, and heavily influence how different groups see an issue and its implications.
  • Physical environment. A trash-filled, crumbling urban neighborhood can breed despair and fear. Changing the face of that neighborhood may do a great deal to change the situation of people who live there as well, giving them hope and pride of ownership, as well as diminishing violence and crime by increasing light and accessibility. The role of the physical environment is one that has to be examined in any community issue.
  • History. It's crucial to examine the history of a problem or issue, as well as efforts to deal with it. The perfect solution you just came up with may have already ended in disaster five years ago. The person you depend on to explain the situation may have been prominent on one side of a huge conflict, and her presence may alienate anyone who was on the other. Bad feelings over real or perceived slights or dishonesty can persist for decades, and if you don't know about them, they can suddenly rise up, seemingly out of nowhere. Not only getting the history, but getting it from a number of different perspectives, is necessary to success in dealing with any problem or issue.
A group trying to bring public transportation to a rural area started by arranging a meeting between the select boards of the towns involved and the local regional transit authority. What the group didn't know was that, several years before, a small non -profit transportation company -- the chair of whose board was a revered local figure -- had been put out of business through some shady dealings by the regional transit authority. As a result, the towns refused to deal with the transit authority, even though it was now under completely new -- and ethical -- management.
  • The interests involved. If there is a conflict, what are the needs and aims of the various factions? Who stands to gain, and who stands to lose? What are the best interests of the community -- or can you determine that at all?

Facilitating problem solving using critical thinking

Actually using critical thinking to solve problems and address issues is, of course, the reason for learning it. Brookfield suggests one problem-solving sequence that can be used in many situations involving community issues. Once people have learned the critical stance, they can apply its principles using this sequence.

Identify the assumptions behind the problem. By asking people to clarify their statements, and by probing for specifics, you can help them look at what is behind their thinking. Some clarifications that you can ask for, accompanied by some of the questions you might ask:

There are actually two sets of assumptions that are important here. One is the set of assumptions that each of us brings to any problem or information, those described above under "How to encourage the critical stance." The other is the set of assumptions about the particular problem -- what the situation is, what the problem consists of, what a solution would look like, and how to achieve that solution. In fact, those two sets of assumptions are inseparable, and both need to be considered. The emphasis in what follows is on the second set of assumptions, that which refers to the problem itself. One of the assumptions of the Tool Box, however, is that you'll deal with both in a real situation.
  • The current situation. What exactly do you mean when you say things are bad? What things? How are they bad? What would be happening if they were good?
  • The problem itself. Can you describe another situation in which the same problem existed? What was happening then? Can you describe a situation in which things were good, and the problem didn't exist? What was happening then? What are the differences here?
  • Potential solutions to the problem. If we were able to solve this problem, what would that look like? What would be happening? Who would be involved?
  • Actions that would lead to the solution. How would what you're suggesting lead to a solution? What exactly would happen?

Challenge those assumptions. Once you've clarified the assumptions, everyone needs to question them.

  • The current situation. Are you sure that everything is bad? Are there good aspects to the situation? What about it specifically do you think is bad? Could that be interpreted in another way? Who might interpret it differently? Why? Are we even looking at the right aspects of the situation? Are we missing something important?
  • The problem itself. What exactly is the problem we're talking about? Are you sure that's really the problem? Could the problem be defined in another (this other) way? What's the actual concern here?
  • Potential solutions to the problem. What are the actual results we need here? (If we're trying to reduce the teen pregnancy rate in the community, for instance, are we aiming to provide a particular number of teens with information about birth control? With condoms and other birth control devices? Or are we aiming at an actual reduction in the teen pregnancy rate within a particular period...say, two years?)
  • Actions that would lead to the solution. Would what you're proposing actually accomplish what you expect it to? Would it really make a difference even if it did?

Imagine alternatives to what you started with. There are a number of ways you can construct different ways to deal with the problem. Two are:

  • Brainstorming. Everyone comes up with every alternative she can think of, no matter how silly it seems at the time. After all the ideas have been recorded, the group goes through them, and sorts out what seems worth pursuing. Sometimes the ideas that seem totally silly at first turn out to be the most valuable, which is why it's important to encourage people to blurt out whatever they think of.
  • Starting with the ideal endpoint. Determine what everything would look like if the ideal solution were achieved, then work backward from there to understand what you'd have to do to get there.
In dealing with teen pregnancy again, for instance, the ideal might be a community in which there were no teen pregnancies because all youth clearly understood the physical and emotional consequences of having sex; had adequate sexual information and access to birth control; and felt valued and empowered enough to respect one another and to maintain control over their own bodies. You might determine that that situation would require that there be sex education available through a variety of sources; that condom dispensers should be placed in various public places, and that pharmacies and convenience stores display birth control devices in ways attractive to teens; that every teen needed to have at least one caring adult in his or her life; and that the community valued youth and their contributions. In order for those things to happen, there might need to be a community education process, mechanisms for youth to become more integrated into the community as contributing members, as well as a group of adult volunteers who would act as mentors and friends to youth who had no positive relationships with adults. In order for those things to happen, you'd need to identify teens who had no positive adult role models...etc. If you followed all of this through to its end, you'd have a picture of the ideal solution to the problem and a road map telling you how to get there.

Critique the alternatives. Develop criteria on which you can judge the alternative solutions you've come up with. Some possibilities:

  • Effectiveness
  • Feasibility
  • Consistency with community needs
  • Consistency with the values of the group
  • Inclusiveness

Once you've selected criteria, another critical thinking exercise is to decide which are most important. In a particular situation, cost might have to be the most important factor. In another, you may be able to weight costs, benefits, and effectiveness together. In others, other criteria may be weighted more heavily.

Finally, apply the criteria to the alternatives you've come up with, and decide which is most likely to achieve the results you want.

Reframe the problem and solution. At this point, learners have come up with a solution. The point of reframing is to look at the problem in the light of all the work they've done. They've perhaps discovered that it was different from what they first thought, or that they needed to view it differently. Reframing solidifies that mindset, and ensures that they approach the problem as they've found it to be in actuality, rather than as they initially saw it.

  • The current situation. Start by restating the current situation, as you understand it after critical analysis, in the clearest and most specific terms possible.
  • The problem itself. Restate the actual problem as you now understand it.
  • Potential solutions to the problem. Explain what changes a solution would bring about, and what things would be like with the problem solved.
  • Actions that would lead to the solution. Lay out the alternative you've arrived at.

By and large, people learn critical thinking best when they're approaching real problems that affect their lives in real ways. That's one reason why community interventions and initiatives provide fertile ground for the development of critical thinking.

Critical thinking is a vital skill in health, human service, and community work. It is the process of questioning, examining, and analyzing situations, issues, problems, people (in hiring decisions, for instance) and information of all kinds -- survey results, theories, personal comments, media stories, history, scientific research, political statements, etc.-- from every possible angle. This will give you a view that's as nearly objective as possible, making it more likely that you'll be able to interpret information accurately and resolve problems and issues effectively.

Teaching critical thinking, whether formally or informally, requires a supportive and encouraging presence, and a willingness to both model and be the subject of critical analysis. It entails teaching the critical stance -- how to recognize and analyze your own and others' assumptions, question information, and examine the context of any information, situation, problem, or issue. Finally, it requires helping people to apply the critical stance to a problem and learn how to come up with a solution that is effective because it addresses the real issues involved. Once learners can do that, they're well on their way to successfully addressing the concerns of their communities.

Online Resources

Critical Thinking Across the Curriculum . Internal and external resources on critical thinking from Longview Community College, Lee's Summit, MO.

The Foundation for Critical Thinking .  Articles, references, links, lesson plans, etc. School and college oriented, but lots of good general material.

Mission Critical , an on-line course in critical thinking from an English professor at San Jose (CA) State University.

Print Resources

Brookfield, Stephen D. (1991). Developing Critical Thinkers, Reprint Edition, San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, Inc.

Brookfield, Stephen D. (2012). Teaching for Critical Thinking, San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

National Academies Press: OpenBook

The Role of Environmental NGOs: Russian Challenges, American Lessons: Proceedings of a Workshop (2001)

Chapter: 14 problems of waste management in the moscow region, problems of waste management in the moscow region.

Department of Natural Resources of the Central Region of Russia

The scientific and technological revolution of the twentieth century has turned the world over, transformed it, and presented humankind with new knowledge and innovative technologies that previously seemed to be fantasies. Man, made in the Creator’s own image, has indeed become in many respects similar to the Creator. Primitive thinking and consumerism as to nature and natural resources seem to be in contrast to this background. Drastic deterioration of the environment has become the other side of the coin that gave the possibility, so pleasant for the average person, to buy practically everything that is needed.

A vivid example of man’s impact as “a geological force” (as Academician V. I. Vernadsky described contemporary mankind) is poisoning of the soil, surface and underground waters, and atmosphere with floods of waste that threaten to sweep over the Earth. Ecosystems of our planet are no longer capable of “digesting” ever-increasing volumes of waste and new synthetic chemicals alien to nature.

One of the most important principles in achieving sustainable development is to limit the appetite of public consumption. A logical corollary of this principle suggests that the notion “waste” or “refuse” should be excluded not only from professional terminology, but also from the minds of people, with “secondary material resources” as a substitute concept for them. In my presentation I would like to dwell on a number of aspects of waste disposal. It is an ecological, economic, and social problem for the Moscow megalopolis in present-day conditions.


Tens of thousand of enterprises and research organizations of practically all branches of the economy are amassed over the territory of 100,000 hectares: facilities of energy, chemistry and petrochemistry; metallurgical and machine-building works; and light industrial and food processing plants. Moscow is occupying one of the leading places in the Russian Federation for the level of industrial production. The city is the greatest traffic center and bears a heavy load in a broad spectrum of responsibilities as capital of the State. The burden of technogenesis on the environment of the city of Moscow and the Moscow region is very considerable, and it is caused by all those factors mentioned above. One of the most acute problems is the adverse effect of the huge volumes of industrial and consumer wastes. Industrial waste has a great variety of chemical components.

For the last ten years we witnessed mainly negative trends in industrial production in Moscow due to the economic crisis in the country. In Moscow the largest industrial works came practically to a standstill, and production of manufactured goods declined sharply. At the same time, a comparative analysis in 1998–99 of the indexes of goods and services output and of resource potential showed that the coefficient of the practical use of natural resources per unit of product, which had been by all means rather low in previous years, proceeded gradually to decrease further. At present we have only 25 percent of the industrial output that we had in 1990, but the volume of water intake remains at the same level. Fuel consumption has come down only by 18 percent, and the amassed production waste diminished by only 50 percent. These figures indicate the growing indexes of resource consumption and increases in wastes from industrial production.

Every year about 13 million tons of different kinds of waste are accumulated in Moscow: 42 percent from water preparation and sewage treatment, 25 percent from industry, 13 percent from the construction sector, and 20 percent from the municipal economy.

The main problem of waste management in Moscow city comes from the existing situation whereby a number of sites for recycling and disposal of certain types of industrial waste and facilities for storage of inert industrial and building wastes are situated outside the city in Moscow Region, which is subject to other laws of the Russian Federation. Management of inert industrial and building wastes, which make up the largest part of the general volume of wastes and of solid domestic wastes (SDW), simply means in everyday practice their disposal at 46 sites (polygons) in Moscow Region and at 200 disposal locations that are completely unsuitable from the ecological point of view.

The volume of recycled waste is less than 10–15 percent of the volume that is needed. Only 8 percent of solid domestic refuse is destroyed (by incineration). If we group industrial waste according to risk factor classes, refuse that is not

dangerous makes up 80 percent of the total volume, 4th class low-hazard wastes 14 percent, and 1st-3rd classes of dangerous wastes amount to 3.5 percent. The largest part of the waste is not dangerous—up to 32 percent. Construction refuse, iron and steel scrap, and non-ferrous metal scrap are 15 percent. Paper is 12 percent, and scrap lumber is 4 percent. Metal scrap under the 4th class of risk factor makes up 37 percent; wood, paper, and polymers more than 8 percent; and all-rubber scrap 15 percent. So, most refuse can be successfully recycled and brought back into manufacturing.

This is related to SDW too. The morphological composition of SDW in Moscow is characterized by a high proportion of utilizable waste: 37.6 percent in paper refuse, 35.2 percent in food waste, 10 percent in polymeric materials, 7 percent in glass scrap, and about 5 percent in iron, steel, and non-ferrous metal scrap. The paper portion in commercial wastes amounts to 70 percent of the SDW volume.

A number of programs initiated by the Government of Moscow are underway for the collection and utilization of refuse and for neutralization of industrial and domestic waste. A waste-recycling industry is being developed in the city of Moscow, mostly for manufacturing recycled products and goods. One of the most important ecological problems is the establishment in the region of ecologically safe facilities for the disposal of dangerous wastes of 1st and 2nd class risk factors.

Pre-planned industrial capacities for thermal neutralization of SDW will be able to take 30 percent of domestic waste and dangerous industrial waste. Construction of rubbish-burning works according to the old traditional approach is not worthwhile and should come to an end. Waste-handling stations have been under construction in the city for the last five years. In two years there will be six such stations which will make it possible to reduce the number of garbage trucks from 1,156 to 379 and to reduce the amount of atmospheric pollution they produce. In addition the switch to building stations with capacity of briquetting one ton of waste into a cubic meter will decrease the burden on waste disposal sites and prolong their life span by 4–5 fold. Trash hauling enterprises will also make profit because of lower transportation costs.

Putting into operation waste-segregation complexes (10–12 sites) would reduce volumes of refuse to disposal sites by 40 percent—that is 1,200,000 tons per year. The total volume of burned or recycled SDW would reach 2,770,000 tons a year. A total of 210,000 tons of waste per year would be buried. So, in the course of a five year period, full industrial recycling of SDW could be achieved in practice.

Collection of segregated waste is one of the important elements in effective disposal and utilization of SDW. It facilitates recycling of waste and return of secondary material into the manufacturing process. Future trends in segregation and collection of SDW will demand wide popularization and improvement of the ecological culture and everyday behavior of people.

In recent years the high increase in the number of cars in Moscow has brought about not only higher pollution of the atmosphere, but also an avalanche-like accumulation of refuse from vehicles. Besides littering residential and recreation areas, cars represent a source for toxic pollution of land and reservoirs. At the same time, automobile wastes are a good source for recycled products. In the short-term outlook, Moscow has to resolve the problem of collection and utilization of decommissioned vehicles and automobile wastes with particular emphasis on activities of the private sector. Setting up a system for collection and utilization of bulky domestic waste and electronic equipment refuse is also on the priority list.

In 1999 in Moscow the following volumes of secondary raw materials were produced or used in the city or were recycled: 300,000 tons of construction waste, 296,000 tons of metal scrap, 265 tons of car battery lead, 21,000 tons of glass, 62,500 tons of paper waste, 4,328 tons of oil-bearing waste, and 306 tons of refuse from galvanizing plants.

Such traditional secondary materials as metal scrap and paper waste are not recycled in Moscow but are shipped to other regions of Russia.

The worldwide practice of sorting and recycling industrial and domestic wastes demands the establishment of an industry for secondary recycling. Otherwise segregation of waste becomes ineffective.

There are restraining factors for the development of an effective system of assorted selection, segregation, and use of secondary raw resources, namely lack of sufficient manufacturing capacities and of suitable technologies for secondary recycling.

The problem of utilization of wastes is closely linked with the problem of modernization and sometimes even demands fundamental restructuring of industries. The practical use of equipment for less energy consumption and a smaller volume of wastes and a transition to the use of alternative raw materials are needed. Large enterprises—the main producers of dangerous wastes—are in a difficult financial situation now, which is an impediment for proceeding along these lines.

Private and medium-size enterprises are becoming gradually aware of the economic profitability in rational use of waste. For example, the firm Satory started as a transportation organization specialized in removal of scrap from demolished buildings and those undergoing reconstruction. It now benefits from recycling of waste, having developed an appropriate technology for the dismantling of buildings with segregation of building waste. So, as it has been already mentioned above, the first task for Moscow is to establish a basis for waste recycling.


Transition to modern technologies in the utilization of wastes requires either sufficient investments or a considerable increase in repayment for waste on the part of the population. Obviously, these two approaches are not likely to be realized in the near future.

The recovery of one ton of SDW with the use of ecologically acceptable technology requires not less than $70–100.

Given the average per capita income in 1999 and the likely increase up to the year of 2005, in 2005 it will be possible to receive from a citizen not more than $14 per year. This means that the cost of technology should not exceed $40 per ton of recycled waste. Unfortunately, this requirement can fit only unsegregated waste disposal at the polygons (taking into account an increase in transportation costs by the year 2005).

Such being the case, it looks like there is only one acceptable solution for Russia to solve the problem of waste in an up-to-date manner: to introduce trade-in value on packaging and on some manufactured articles.

In recent years domestic waste includes more and more beverage containers. Plastic and glass bottles, aluminium cans, and packs like Tetrapak stockpiled at disposal sites will soon reach the same volumes as in western countries. In Canada, for example, this kind of waste amounts to one-third of all domestic waste.

A characteristic feature of this kind of waste is that the packaging for beverages is extremely durable and expensive. Manufactured from polyethylene terephthalate (PTA) and aluminum, it is sometimes more expensive than the beverage it contains.

What are the ways for solving the problem? Practically all of them are well-known, but most will not work in Russia in present conditions. The first problem relates to collection of segregated waste in the urban sector and in the services sector. A number of reasons make this system unrealistic, specifically in large cities. Sorting of waste at waste-briquetting sites and at polygons is possible. But if we take into account the present cost of secondary resources, this system turns out to be economically unprofitable and cannot be widely introduced.

The introduction of deposits on containers for beverages is at present the most acceptable option for Russia. This system turned out to be most effective in a number of countries that have much in common with Russia. In fact this option is not at all new for us. Surely, all people remember the price of beer or kefir bottles. A system of deposit for glass bottles was in operation in the USSR, and waste sites were free from hundreds of millions of glass bottles and jars. We simply need to reinstate this system at present in the new economic conditions according to new types and modes of packaging. Deposits could be introduced also on glass bottles and jars, PTA and other plastic bottles, aluminium cans, and Tetrapak packing.

Let us investigate several non-ecological aspects of this problem, because the ecological impact of secondary recycling of billions of bottles, cans, and packs is quite obvious.

Most of the population in Russia lives below the poverty line. When people buy bottles of vodka, beer, or soft drinks, they will have to pay a deposit value (10–20 kopeks for a bottle). The poorest people will carry the bottles to receiving points. A system of collection of packaging will function by itself. Only receiving points are needed. Millions of rubles that are collected will be redistributed among the poorest people for their benefit, and a social problem of the poor will be solved to a certain extent not by charity, but with normal economic means.

A second point is also well-known. In a market economy one of the most important problems is that of employment. What happens when the trade-in value is introduced?

Thousands of new jobs are created at receiving points and at enterprises that recycle glass, plastics, etc. And we don’t need a single penny from the state budget. More than that, these enterprises will pay taxes and consume products of other branches of industry, thus yielding a return to the budget, not to mention income tax from new jobs.

There is another aspect of the matter. Considerable funding is needed from budgets of local governments, including communal repayments for waste collection and disposal at polygons and incinerators. Reduction of expenses for utilization of waste can be significant support for housing and communal reform in general.

It is practically impossible to evaluate in general an ecological effect when thousands of tons of waste will cease to occupy plots of land near cities as long-term disposal sites. Operation costs of receiving points and transportation costs could be covered by funds obtained from manufacturers and from returned packaging. Besides, when a waste recycling industry develops and becomes profitable, recycling factories will be able to render partial support to receiving points.

Trade-in value can be introduced on all types of packaging except milk products and products for children. It could amount to 15 or 30 kopecks per container, depending on its size. If all plastic bottles with water and beer are sold with trade-in value only in Moscow, the total sum will reach 450 million rubles a year. If we include glass bottles, aluminum cans, and packets, the sum will be one billion rubles. This sum will be redistributed at receiving points among people with scanty means when they receive the money for used packaging and jobs at receiving points and at recycling factories.

The bottleneck of the problem now is the absence in Russia of high technology industries for waste recycling. It can be resolved rather easily. At the first stage, used packaging can be sold as raw material for enterprises, including those overseas. There is unrestricted demand for PTA and aluminum on the part

of foreign firms. When waste collection mechanisms are established, there will be limited investments in this branch of industry.

With regard to the inexhaustible source of free raw material, this recycling industry will become one of the most reliable from the point of view of recoupment of investments. The Government, regional authorities, the population, and of course ecologists should all be interested in having such a law.

The same should be done with sales of cars, tires, and car batteries. Prices of every tire or battery should be higher by 30–50 rubles. These sums of money should be returned back to a buyer or credited when he buys a new tire or a new battery. For sure, such being the case we will not find used batteries thrown about the city dumps. In this case the task is even simpler because there are already a number of facilities for the recycling of tires and batteries.

In fact, a law of trade-in value can change the situation with waste in Russia in a fundamental way. Russian legislation has already been prepared, and the concept of an ecological tax has been introduced in the new Internal Revenue Code. Now it needs to be competently introduced. The outlay for waste recycling has to become a type of ecological tax. To realize this task much work has to be done among the deputies and with the Government. Public ecological organizations, including international ones, should play a leading role.


We know examples of the ever increasing role of the general public in the solution of the problem of waste utilization, first of all in those countries that have well-developed democratic institutions. “Fight Against Waste” is one of the popular slogans of public organizations abroad. Public opinion has brought about measures of sanitary cleaning in cities, secured better work by municipal services, shut down hazardous industries, and restricted and prohibited incineration facilities. Nevertheless, the struggle against wastes in the economically developed countries, being a manifestation of an advanced attitude towards the environment, has in the long run brought about a paradoxical result. Transfer of hazardous industries to countries with lower environmental standards and inadequate public support—Russia, as an example—has made the world even more dangerous from the ecological point of view.

Russia has just embarked on the path of formation of environmental public movements by the establishment of nongovernmental organizations. Representatives of nongovernmental organizations from Russia took part in the international gathering in Bonn in March 2000 of nongovernmental organizations that are members of the International Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) Elimination Network. A declaration against incineration was adopted in

Bonn by nongovernmental organizations, which called for elaboration of effective alternative technologies for utilization of waste and safe technologies for elimination of existing stockpiles of POP.

Quite a number of environmental organizations are operating now in Moscow. First to be mentioned is the All-Russia Society for the Conservation of Nature, which was established in Soviet times. There are other nongovernmental organizations: Ecosoglasiye, Ecolain, Ecological Union, and the Russian branches of Green Cross and Greenpeace. All these organizations collect and popularize environmental information and organize protest actions against policies of the Government or local administrations on ecological matters. A new political party—Russia’s Movement of the Greens—is being formed.

Laws currently in force in the Russian Federation (“On Protection of the Environment,” “On State Ecological Examination by Experts,” “On Production and Consumption of Waste”) declare the right of the public to participate in environmental examination of projects that are to be implemented, including those on the establishment of facilities for elimination and disposition of waste. Public examinations can be organized by the initiative of citizens and public associations. For example, under the law of Moscow “On Protection of the Rights of Citizens while Implementing Decisions on Construction Projects in Moscow,” public hearings are organized by the city’s boards. Decisions taken by local authorities, at referenda and public meetings, may be the very reason for carrying out public examinations. Such examinations are conducted mainly by commissions, collectives, or ad hoc groups of experts. Members of public examination panels are responsible for the accuracy and validity of their expert evaluations in accordance with the legislation of the Russian Federation. A decision of a public environmental panel has an informative nature as a recommendation, but it becomes legally mandatory after its approval by the appropriate body of the State. Besides, the opinion of the public is taken into account when a project submitted for state environmental review has undergone public examinations and there are supporting materials.

Public environmental examination is supposed to draw the attention of state bodies to a definite site or facility and to disseminate well-grounded information about potential ecological risks. This important facet of public environmental organizations in Moscow and in Russia is very weak. To a large extent, it can be explained by an insufficient level of specific and general knowledge of ecology even on the part of the environmentalists themselves. Lack of knowledge on the part of ordinary citizens and public groups and inadequate information (for various reasons) produce alarm-motivated behavior by those who harm the organization of environmental activity in general and waste management in particular.

There are nevertheless positive examples of public participation in designing policies of local authorities in the waste management sphere.

Speaking about the Moscow region we can point to the very productive work of the Public Ecological Commission attached to the Council of Deputies in Pushchino, in Moscow Oblast.

The population of Pushchino is 21,000. The polygon for solid biological wastes (SBW) has practically exhausted its capacities. In 1996, in order to find a way out, the Administration of the town showed an interest in a proposal made by the Austrian firm FMW to support financially the construction of an electric power station in the vicinity of the town that would operate using both fuel briquettes and SBW of the town. The briquettes would be manufactured in Turkey and would contain 70 percent Austrian industrial waste with added oil sludge. It was also envisaged that during the construction period of the electric power station, 300,000 tons of briquettes would be shipped and stockpiled. The original positive decision was annulled due to an independent evaluation of the project organized by the Public Ecological Commission.

The general public of Puschino put forward a counter proposal before the Administration in order to reduce volumes of SBW disposal at the polygon and to prolong its operation—segregation of SBW (food waste, paper refuse, fabrics, metal, glass, used car batteries). As a result, a new scheme for sanitary measures in the town was worked out in 1998, which on the basis of segregation of waste provided for a considerable decrease in refuse flow to the polygon. Unfortunately, for lack of finances in the town budget, the scheme has not been introduced to the full extent. But in spite of severe shortages of special containers for segregated wastes, a network of receiving points for secondary materials was set up.

One of the pressing tasks for greater public activity is wide popularization of environmental knowledge on waste management, especially among the young generation. There is a very important role for public organizations to play in this domain when enlightenment and education are becoming a primary concern of nongovernmental organizations. Referring again to the example of the Public Ecological Commission in Pushchino, I have to underline that this organization is taking an active part in the enlightenment of the population through organizing exhibitions, placing publications in the press, and spurring school children into action to encourage cleaning of the town by means of environmental contests, seminars, and conferences. Children help the Commission organize mobile receiving points for secondary material. They even prepare announcements and post them around the town calling on the citizens to take valuable amounts of domestic wastes and car batteries to receiving points.

There are other examples of a growing influence of public organizations on the policy of administration in the sphere of waste management in the Moscow region. The Moscow Children’s Ecological Center has worked out the Program “You, He, She and I—All Together Make Moscow Clean,” which is being introduced with the support of the Moscow Government. In the framework of this program, children collect waste paper at schools, and they are taught how to

be careful about the environment and material resources. The storage facilities agreed to support the initiative. They buy waste paper at a special price for school children. Then, the schools spend the earned money for excursions, laboratory equipment, books, and plant greenery.

Another example of an enlightened activity is a project realized in 1999 by the firm Ecoconcord on producing video-clips for TV about the adverse effects of waste incineration and the illegality of unauthorized storage of waste.

The name Ecoconcord speaks for the main purpose of this organization—to achieve mutual understanding between the general public and governmental organizations, to encourage public involvement in decision-making, and to promote the formation of policy bodies that would not let public opinion be ignored.

Proceeding from the global task of integrating the activities of interested parties in lessening adverse waste pollution, public organizations have to cooperate with authorities and not stand against them. Cooperation and consensus between governmental and nongovernmental organizations in working out strategies and tactics in waste management should become a prerequisite in successful realization of state policy in this sphere in the Russian Federation.

An NRC committee was established to work with a Russian counterpart group in conducting a workshop in Moscow on the effectiveness of Russian environmental NGOs in environmental decision-making and prepared proceedings of this workshop, highlighting the successes and difficulties faced by NGOs in Russia and the United States.

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    COMMUNITY PROBLEM-SOLVING PAPER 4 of a very unproductive property crimes unit approximately 4 years earlier, there was little hope that a new unit would be created in the fear that it would meet the same fate. With much pressure coming from the community to stop this problem, it was time to make a change in how things were done. Law enforcement initiative The law enforcement initiative started ...

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  20. Chapter 17. Analyzing Community Problems and Solutions

    Community violence lessened as truces were signed and hope for a reasonable life grew. When you're advocating for legislation, policy change, or funding to address a community issue. The legislation, policy, or funding - and therefore your advocacy - should address the underlying causes of the problem you're trying to solve, as well as ...

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