Preferred ideation approach and three factors impacting ideation flexibility.

Preferred ideation approach and three factors impacting ideation flexibility.

Ideas generated and advanced by engineers are key to keeping our world functioning and moving forward. With the increasing complexity of our unsolved problems, successful engineering ideation is essential to our continued progress (even survival).

Engineering problem-solving comes in diversity of styles ranging from adaptive to innovative styles. These different problem-solving skills are needed for successful ideation. 


While there are clear needs for strong and diverse engineering ideation, the current engineering education paradigm does not provide distinct opportunities for engineering students to understand their own natural approaches to idea generation or to learn how to approach idea generation in other ways.

 We call the ability to shift between one’s preferred and non-preferred ways of idea generation “ideation flexibility”. As shown in the figure above, this is reflected in an individual’s ability to ideate more adaptively and/or more innovatively relative to their natural position on the cognitive style spectrum.


The outcomes of this study will be the Problem Framing Profile (PFP), the 77 Cards Handbook, and the Dyad Guide.  This Ideation Flexibility Trio will provide engineering educators and practitioners with lesson materials, detailed procedures for implementation, best practice advice, and case examples of how the materials have been used in different ways with students of different cognitive styles.

This research is funded by National Science Foundation and is a collaborative effort between Iowa State University, University of Michigan, and Pennsylvania State University.

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