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203P Construction Problem Solving and Decision Making

203 Problem Solving and Decision Making
Class Syllabus

Learning Objectives
Class Organization and Grading
Grading Policies
Textbook Information
Reading Ahead

Introduction -- $380 for members, $445 for non-members.. Book Not Included

Most construction supervisors will tell you they spend much of their day solving problems and making decisions.  Many of them define their effectiveness based upon their ability to solve problems yet, most construction supervisors have not had any formal training in problem solving and decision making.

The truth is that most untrained construction supervisors spend way too much time solving problems and they are often not very good at it.  Knowledge of the formal process of solving problems and making decisions is essential for the professional construction supervisor.

Each class is 10 weeks and on average a student can expect to spend 3-5 hours per class.


Learning objectives:

By the end of this class you should be able to:

  1. Use basic problem solving and decision making skills in your every day construction duties.
  2. Function more effectively in the management of your crew and jobs.
  3. Identify reactive problem solving.
  4. Utilize and exercise the principles of proactive problem solving..
  5. Identify barriers to creative thinking and problem solving.
  6. Establish a problem solving environment in your workplace.
  7. Solve both human performance and technical problems


Class Organization and Grading

The following table lists the learning modules, the maximum value in points a student can receive within each module, and the time in which the modules must be finished.  Each week you will have online class discussions (15 points) and a quiz (10 points). 


Point Value By End of Week
0. Student Orientation 0 Before start
1. Problems in Construction 25 1
2. Establishing a Problem Solving Environment 25 2
3. Human Performance Problems 25 3
4. Reactive Problem Solving 25 4
5.The Decision Making Process 25 5
6.Labor Costs and Subcontractors 25 6
7.Proactive Problem Reduction 25 7
8. Production Process Improvement 25 8
9. Project Wide Applications 25 9
10. Special Problems 25 10
Total Points


It is important that the student keep up with the class and not fall behind.   Course modules will be made available to students on Sunday of each week.  Class work must be completed before the following Monday.  Students will not be able to work ahead of the class although reading assignments will be made available in advance.   


Grading Policies

Graded assignments will consist of one quiz for each module and participation in at least two class discussions.  Students should provide at least 3 contributions to the class discussions each week to gain the maximum points. Students learn more and learn better when they discuss the topic at hand.  For that reason, I consider the regular weekly discussions to be even more important than the weekly quizzes.

Grades will be posted on a weekly basis.  You will have full access to your grade sheet so you will be able to keep track of how you are doing at all times.

Your overall grade in the course will be determined by the total number of points you have accumulated on quizzes and assignments.   The grading scale is as follows:

  • A  225 to 250 points

  • B  200 to 224 points

  • C  175 to 199 points

  • D 150 to 174 points

  • Anything less will be considered an F or an unauthorized withdrawal from the course.

You will be given more information about the grading and other course matters in the Orientation Module.


The Textbook

The textbook for this class is Unit 3, Problem Solving and Decision Making (S) 6th Edition, Participants Manual.

Textbook ordering information can be found at this link.

The cost of each textbook is approximately $155 plus shipping and handling.  If you order a used book be sure you are getting the correct edition.

Allow at least 5 working days between ordering the book and receiving it by the least expensive shipping.  Foreign students should allow at least 2 to 3 weeks for delivery. You can have your book delivered more quickly by paying more for the shipping.


Reading Ahead

This table details the reading assignments for the entire course.  This will give you opportunity to read ahead and get a jump on upcoming modules.


Reading Assignment Start Date
0. Student Orientation Optional/ Week 1
1. Problems in Construction Read Unit 1 Week 1
2. Establishing a Problem Solving Environment Read Unit 2, Week 2
3. Human Performance Problems Read Unit 3 Week 3
4. Reactive Problem Solving Read Unit 4 Week 4
5.The Decision Making Process Read Unit 5 Week 5
6.Labor Costs and Subcontractors Read Unit 6 Week 6
7.Proactive Problem Reduction Read Unit 7 Week 7
8. Production Process Improvement Read Unit 8 Week 8
9. Project Wide Applications Read Unit 9 Week 9
10. Special Problems Read Unit 10 Week 10


WITHDRAWAL POLICY: You may withdraw from a course by sending an email to  Non-attendance or notifying the instructor does not constitute officially dropping or withdrawing from a course. Students who stop attending courses without officially dropping will receive a grade of U (unauthorized withdrawal) in the class. Refunds are not automatic. NO refunds are due unless the course is officially dropped within stated guidelines in the refund schedule. Please type your name in the text box agreeing to the withdrawal policy.


Refund Schedule

a. Withdrawal postmarked at least one working day before the first day of class – total fee less a $20 handling fee.

b. Refund requests postmarked on or after the first day and no later than two weeks after the first day of class will be refunded 65% of the fee, after which time there is no refund.






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