Defining the Problem
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A problem is more than a question.
A problem occurs when:

The purpose of any research or  inquiry
process is to resolve a problem.

1. The interaction of two or more factors results in a perplexing situation
causing confusion and uncertainty.

The process of stating or defining a problem
helps lead to an optimal solution.

2. The interaction of two or more factors results in conflict that makes choosing from among alternative courses of action moot (questionable, controversial, contestable).

Some problems must be defined
that is, transformed into a set of operations.

3. The interaction of two or more factors produces an undersireable consequence.

Defining the problem determines the
focus of the research or inquiry.



Determining the FOCUS of an inquiry

serves two purposes

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1. Focusing helps establish the boundaries of study.
It defines the terrain to be covered.

2. Focusing helps determine inclusion - exclusion criteria.
Focusing helps make decisions about what information to keep
and what information to throw away.


Factors can be concepts, empirical data, experiences, or any other element that
when placed along side one another cause some basic difficulty, something that is not understood,
or can not be explained at the time. (Lincoln and Guba,  Naturalistic Inquiry, 1985, pg. 226.)