This entry discusses the topic of problem solving. One major obstacle that comes to mind when faced with problem solving is a "mental set." Recently, my roommate was writing a paper for one of his classes and the prompt was substance abuse among college students. He had a great deal of difficulty writing it; specifically when choosing a topic to write about. The difficulty was that he wanted to choose a topic that was creative and unique, but he was drawn towards topics that the professor had brought up in class and had trouble straying from those. After about half an hour of thinking he began to complain until I gave him a few ideas to go with. According to the text, it makes sense that I was able to give him unique ideas because I haven't been a part of the class lectures and wouldn't have a mental set imposed on my thinking. This is a pretty clear representation of the "mental set" problem solving obstacle.
I found an interesting article from Dave Ellis's manual, "Becoming a Master Student" which discusses ways to improve creativity and problem solving. One such remedy for getting stuck on a problem is to brainstorm with peers. Writing down ideas and branching off of them as opposed to simply prodding your own brain generally can bring forth some great material. This gives you the opportunity to pick and choose between topics you like as well as topics that may not work. Another idea is to journal your ideas for future reference. This is a less immediate approach to problem solving, but it could also save you time when a specific subject task arises and you are stuck with no idea what to do about it.