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Describe ways in which your knowledge and understanding about families could impact the ways you interact with others in life, work, or community differently or in a more positive way than previously experienced.

Critical Thinking & Problem Solving – Philosophy of Family

General Education Outcome Area: Critical Thinking or Elective Credit

Outcome description: SNU graduates will have the ability to explain and/or analyze a problem based upon evidence supported by the discipline in order to develop an appropriate conclusion/solution which can be reflected upon and evaluated.


Family structures are both important and complex. Given the pressures and pace of our culture, input and expectations from a variety of sources, and changing social realities, no two families look alike. Marriage, divorce, blended families, multi-generational households and multicultural families impact each member of the family unit. The purpose of this Life Learning Paper is to provide an opportunity for learners to demonstrate the continuation of learning from the first experience to the most recent in regard to families, and to reflect upon what has been learned through these experiences. Learning must extend beyond observation of others. Understanding human nature, the need for belonging, conflict origins and resolution, differing roles, latent expectations, as well as multiple perspectives are critical for this Life Learning Paper. In order to fully appreciate the depth and breadth of your knowledge and experience, please address at least 70% of the provided writing prompt.

Documentation Requirements:

Documenting your life learning experience is a requirement for all your life learning papers, both for course requirements and for petitioning requirements. In fact, no life learning paper will be sent out for evaluation unless it has documentation. Documentation is the solid evidence that supports your claims of your learning. When deciding what to document, refer back to the first section of your life learning paper: Concrete Experience. The Concrete Experience is the “map” of how you achieved your learning related to your topic. It should be a clear, specific articulation of all the varied ways you learned: training, workshops, seminars, books, podcasts, videos, counseling, websites, mentoring relationships, work responsibilities, volunteering experiences, community service, church involvement, places visited, special accomplishments, legal documents, birth certificates, divorce decrees, marriage certificates, experts, memberships, include a reference page of sources used in the life learning paper (follow APA). Strive to include 3-4 pieces of documentation that can be scanned or photocopied clearly.

I.Concrete Experience (expected length: 1 ½ – 2 pages)

*This section should be written in 1st person and will contain the “map” of your entire learning experience.

A. Establish a timeline utilizing dates and describe the types of families of which you have been a member.

B. What specific familial roles have you assumed (spouse, parent, sibling, child, grandparent, extended family member, etc.)?

C. What narratives are a part of your family history? (Adoption, Fostercare, Multigenerational, Multicultural, Ethnicity, Religion, etc)

D. Briefly describe the family structure of your family of origin, your current family structure, and anything related to these structures which caused you to consider human nature, values, ethics, or life principles.

E. Include with dates significant life events, changes, transitions over time in your current family’s structure. What led to those significant moments?

F. If you have direct and sustained contact with a family from another culture, describe your experience and provide specific information related to the country, culture, and interactions with the family.

G. How has your perception of family changed from your first experience with family until the most recent or current experience? Include specific defining event/s not previously noted.

H. Including specific titles, what outside resources helped your learning journey (counseling, support groups, mentoring, videos, podcasts, programs, readings, seminars/workshops/training, significant conversations with others, professional organizations, medical professionals, memberships, clubs, community involvement, teachers, pastors, chaplains, churches, etc.)?

  1. Observations and Reflections – Critical Reflection (expected length: 1 ½ – 2 ½ pages containing 7 well-developed illustrative paragraphs elaborating upon your learning experiences.)

*This section should be written in 1st person and include personal examples to illustrate the depth of your learning. Support observations with personal examples as evidence, and feel free to reflect upon all aspects of your learning process, whether positive or negative in nature.

A. What were your assumptions about family structures before you began this learning journey?

1.     Did reality match your expectations? How, specifically, or why not?

2.     What has surprised you along this specific learning journey?

3.     How did your thoughts and feelings about families change as you assumed different roles within your family?

4.     What did you imagine family life should or would look like?

5.     Where did these assumptions originate and where were they enforced?

B. Discuss your early observations about families outside your own.

1.     Were you aware of (or observe) significant problems in other families?

2.     How did you compare these families to your own at that time?

3.     As you learned about other families, was there anything related to their structures which caused you to consider human nature, values, ethics, or principles?

C. What was the greatest source of joy in your family of origin?

D. What is the greatest source of joy in your family now?

E. What were the primary challenges in your family of origin?

F. What are the primary challenges in your family now?

G. In which areas have you seen the most growth or improvement in your family relationships, and where are you still seeking to improve?

H. How does mental health impact your family unit?

I. Discuss the role of rules in your family.

1.     Which types of rules are communicated most clearly?

2.     Which types of rules are understood but rarely articulated?

3.     If your current family unit is multi-generational or multicultural, what impact do those dynamics have upon household rules?

4.     What role do rules play in family stability and quality of life?

J. Who are the leading experts or resources in this arena, and what, specifically, have you gleaned that has been beneficial to your journey?

  1. Abstract Concepts and Generalizations – Problem Definition and Evidence (expected length: 2 ½ -3 pages)

**This section contains factual content and should be written in 3rd person; personal examples should not be included in this section, and direct quotes should be used sparingly.

A. What is known about human nature through interaction in families?

B. What makes us human and what separates us from animals or inanimate objects?

C. What gives humans value? Is this value intrinsic or extrinsic?

D. How does the recognition of a person’s value within a family impact their life outside the family?

E.  Explain the impact of the following concepts upon family members and how they can be communicated within a family of origin through birth or adoption and later perhaps differently as a member in a current family by choice as well:

1.     Love

2.     Trust

3.     Commitment

4.     Loyalty

5.     Ethics

6.     Responsibility

7.     Compromise

F. Why do humans exist?  Do we exist for self or for others? If one exists for others, what responsibilities does that entail and how does it impact the meaning of family?

G. For spouses and other familial relationships, describe the concept of us/we as opposed to I/me. How does that understanding impact marriage and family?

H. As a parent, how do personal beliefs about self impact parenting choices?

I. What gives life meaning and purpose? Why does this impact family? What impact does this have on the family? How does this impact family?

J. Who are the leading authorities in the study of family and what specifically are they most known for in this field of study?

  1. Applications to New Situations and Conclusions (expected length: 1-1 ½ pages)

*This section should be written in 1st person and will detail what you plan to do with this body of knowledge in the future.

A. Describe ways in which your knowledge and understanding about families could impact the ways you interact with others in life, work, or community differently or in a more positive way than previously experienced.

B. When giving guidance to others, what considerations must be made about varying family structures and the differences within those families?

C. When providing encouragement to others who may be struggling, discuss the most valuable aspects of learning about families that you could share.

D. How will your understanding and knowledge of family affect the way you interact with others who may be dealing with family challenges in the future?

E. Where else could you utilize your knowledge and understanding of family to help and serve others?  How could you get more involved in supporting families?

F. How could you help others understand and assist with the challenges of living within a family? Have you  thought about leading a discussion group in another setting such as your church, neighborhood, friend groups, etc?

G. How do you plan to continue learning about family and relationships? Are there books you would like to read, experts that you would like to explore, techniques/skills that you would like to develop? Are there new relationship or communication techniques which you plan to implement?

H. Why is continued learning, development, and helping others to learn about families important?

General Tips for all Critical Thinking & Problem Solving LLPs

  1. Focus on what you have learned through your experiences and ideas/understandings which have come from your learning experiences.
  2. Upper- or lower-division credit may be earned for this paper; upper-division credit requires a thorough understanding of familial relationships and significant concrete experience.
  3. Plagiarism is unacceptable; cite outside sources carefully and include a Reference page at the end of the document.
  4. While it is not required to answer each part of every question listed in the sections below, strongest consideration will be given to papers which address at least 70% of the questions.
  5. Be sure to include ample specifics which serve as evidence of your ideas.

Formatting Requirements:

APA format is expected with correct grammar and punctuation, accurate syntax, spelling, college-level vocabulary, and heading styles. Learners are encouraged to consult Purdue’s O.W.L (owl.purdue.edu) for assistance with APA formatting.

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