Pragmatic research tactics for starting IT engineers

Authors Dan Greve , Koen van Turnhout , Lisette Munneke
Publication date 2018
Research groups Research Competence
Type Lecture


Peer reviewed research paper SEFI Engineering Education congress 2018 Within higher engineering education, students have to learn to close knowledge gaps that arise in professional assignments, such as capstone projects. These knowledge gaps can be closed through simple inquiry, but can also require more rigorous research. Since professionals work under tight constraints, they face constant trade-offs between quality, risk and efficiency to find answers that are acceptable. This means engineers use pragmatic research tactics that aim for the highest chance to find answers that fit sufficiently to close knowledge gaps in order to solve the problem with optimal use of time and resources. The problem is that research and problem-solving literature richly supplies solid strategies suitable to plan the research in projects as a whole, but hardly supplies flexible tactics to search for information within a project. This paper reports pragmatic tactics that starting bachelor engineering professionals use to acquire sufficiently good answers to questions that arise in the context of their assignments. For this, we conducted semi-structured interviews among computer science engineers with three to five years of work experience. The study reveals three pragmatic tactics: concentric, iterative and probe-response. The ambition level of the project determines when questions are sufficiently answered, and we distinguish tree sufficiency levels: check for viable answer, boost critical demand and change the game. The aim of this research is to add a view that makes pragmatic research choices for novice engineers more open to discussion and realistic.

On this publication contributed

  • Dan Greve | Lecturer / Researcher | Methodology of Practice-Based Research
    Dan Greve
    • Teacher-researcher
    • Research groups: Research Competence
  • Koen van Turnhout
    Koen van Turnhout
    • Professor
    • Research groups: Human Experience & Media Design
  • Listte Munneke | Senior lecturer | Methodology of Practice-Based Research
    Lisette Munneke
    • Teacher-researcher
    • Research groups: Research Competence

Language English
Key words tactic, inquiry, pragmatics, research

Dan Greve

Dan Greve | Lecturer / Researcher | Methodology of Practice-Based Research

Dan Greve

  • Teacher-researcher
  • Research group: Research Competence