Integrating Problem Solving and Research Methods Teaching for Systems Practice in Engineering

Mike Yearworth, Gordon Edwards, John P Davis, Katharina M Burger, Adrian J Terry

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Contribution (Conference Proceeding)

10 Citations (Scopus)


Problem solving and research methods apparently sit within different traditions of development evidenced by disparate sources of literature. However, in the graduate education of engineers taking an Engineering Doctorate (EngD) Program in Systems there is a need for their integration in such a way as to make their relationship clear. We argue from experience of course delivery and project supervision that research methods from business and management need to support a generic problem solving approach – informed from the Problem Structuring Methods (PSM) literature, and specifically Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) – such that they provide the rigorous evidence needed at any stage of a problem solving cycle to move a project forward i.e. there is a clear hierarchy with a problem solving approach providing the prevailing methodology for systems practice in engineering and research methods supplying the means to generate answers to specific questions as they arise. We specifically discuss the special role of action research as both a problem solving and a research methodology and its relevance to engineering education.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication11th Annual Conference on Systems Engineering Research (CSER '13)
EditorsC.J.J. Paredis, C. Bishop, D. Bodner
Publication statusPublished - 19 Mar 2013

Structured keywords

  • Water and Environmental Engineering


  • Research Methods
  • Problem Solving
  • Problem Structuring Methods
  • Action Research
  • Systems Thinking
  • Systems Practice


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