Evaluating the Impacts of Different Interventions on Quality in Concept Generation (ASEE 2016)

 the outcomes of the ideation process in the concept generation stage of engineering design.In this work, we investigated the impacts of the problem context and three specific interventions designed to increase the ideation flexibility for the outcomes of concept generation. The three interventions were problem framing, design tools, and teaming. Our results show that both problem framing and teaming impact several aspects of quality, while design tools only impact the quantity of ideas produced. Read more

Producing ideas of high quality has great importance in engineering design. Although concept generation is sometimes one of the shorter phases of a project, concept generation that leads to viable and unique solutions can greatly contribute to a product’s final outcomes. Concept generation also has importance as a tool for engineering education and academic research. Because the quality of solutions can vary from individual to individual and from circumstance to circumstance, it would be useful to better understand how different interventions influence

Helm, K., Jablokow, K., Yilmaz, S., Daly, S., & Silk, E. (2016). Evaluating the impacts of different interventions on quality in concept generation. ASEE Annual Conference, Design in Engineering Education Division. New Orleans, LA: ASEE.


Using Paradigm-Relatedness to Measure Design Ideation Shifts (ASEE 2016)

The other part of the basis for the DPF was research on problem framing, which suggests that the structure of design problem statements influences an individual’s approach and the outcomes produced. Using the DPF as a foundation, we propose that design problems that encourage adaptive ideation behaviors include more specified constraints, along with criteria for solutions that build on already existing solutions to the same or similar problems. In contrast, design problems that encourage innovative ideation behaviors include criteria for solutions that are radically different from existing solutions and are not bound by specific constraints. Read more

Ideation is the process of generating ideas for solving design problems, and it is a critical part of the overall design process. In order to encourage designers to ideate across a broader spectrum of ideas, we developed the Design Problem Framework (DPF) to assist in the development and framing of design problem statements. Part of the basis for the DPF was research on cognitive styles, which suggests that there is a range of preferences for approaching problem solving, and that these preferences influence how different individuals naturally approach ideation. We used Kirton’s Adaption-Innovation theory as a basis for understanding the range of cognitive styles. 

Silk, E., Daly, S., Jablokow, K., & Yilmaz, S. (2016). Using paradigm-relatedness to measure design ideation shifts. ASEE Annual Conference, Design in Engineering Education Division. New Orleans, LA: ASEE.


Impact of Problem Contexts on the Diversity of Design Solutions: An Exploratory Case Study (ASEE 2015)

The role of ideation in design is to generate design solutions that have the potential for further development. Having many diverse ideas increases the potential for successful design outcomes by increasing the number of possibilities available during concept evaluation and selection phases. How do we define the problems that would allow for the most diverse solution space? The purpose of this study was to gain an understanding of how different contexts impacted the variety of solutions generated within the solution space, by a diverse group of students. 

In this exploratory case study, we report on (1) how we identified a set of design problems with diverse contexts appropriate for students with varied backgrounds, and (2) how we explored the impact of these problem contexts on the size of the solution space, aiming to select the contexts with the most diverse pool of ideas for our ongoing studies1. Our results show that diversity judged by multiple raters was consistent and provided us with evidence to support the decision of which design problems to use in our further studies. Read More

Yilmaz, S., Rosenberg, M. N., Daly, S. R., Jablokow, K. W., Silk, E. M., & Teerlink, W. (2015, June). Impact of problem contexts on the diversity of design solutions: An exploratory case study. Paper accepted to be presented at the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Annual Conference, Seattle, WA, USA. 


Ideation Variety in Mechanical Design: Examining the Effects of Cognitive Style and Design Heuristics (IDETC/CIE 2015) 

This paper examines ideation variety as a measure of the extent to which a design solution space has been explored. We investigated one cognitive factor (cognitive style) and one cognitive intervention (Design Heuristics cards) and their relationships with students’ ideation variety, both actual and perceived. Cognitive style was measured using the Kirton Adaption-Innovation inventory (KAI), while variety scores were computed using the metrics of Nelson et al. [18] and Shah et al. [20]; an adapted form of these metrics was also explored. A group of 132 sophomore mechanical engineering students generated ideas for two design problems (one with and one without Design Heuristics cards). 

They sketched and described their conceptual solutions in words and assessed the variety of their solutions after ideation. Linear statistical techniques were applied to explore the relationships among the variety scores, students’ self-assessments of variety, cognitive style, quantity of ideas, and the presence of the Design Heuristics intervention. Our results show statistically significant correlations between students’ perceived variety and their variety performance, and between cognitive style and both variety performance and student perceptions. Read More

Jablokow, K. W., Teerlink, W., Yilmaz, S., Daly, S. R., Silk, E. M., & Wehr, C. (2015, August). Ideation variety in mechanical design: Examining the effects of cognitive style and design heuristics. Paper accepted to be presented at the ASME 2015 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences & Computers and Information in Engineering Conference (IDETC/CIE 2015), Boston, MA, USA. 


Exploring the Effects of Problem Framing on Solution Shifts: A Case Analysis (ASEE 2015)

The way design problems are presented may influence an engineer’s ideation process, and eventually, the design outcomes. We aimed to explore the ways in which pre-engineering students shift their design ideas based on different framings of design problems. We evaluated ideas with respect to the metric of paradigm-relatedness, which refers to the extent to which an idea works within the explicitly stated and commonly understood bounds of a problem, versus moves beyond those bounds. Thirteen prospective engineering students participated in the study. Students were first given a problem statement framed in a way that didn’t encourage any particular type of solution. The students were asked to generate solutions to the problem using visual and verbal depictions. Subsequently, they were given a second problem framed either to encourage practical solutions based on pre-existing designs or framed to encourage radical solutions not based on pre-existing designs. Ideas were coded as either paradigm-preserving or paradigm-modifying. 

We identified students whose ideas shifted from more of one type to more of another from their first ideation session to their second, as well as students whose ideas remained consistent. We analyzed their generated idea sets and reflection questionnaires to describe the influence of the framed design problem statements on their ideation approaches. The findings illustrate that problem framing can influence the paradigm-relatedness of ideas generated in a design tasks, both in more adaptive directions and in more innovative directions. However, our findings also illustrate that problem framing is not always successful in causing an individual to shift in their ideation approach, and so additional factors such as individuals’ cognitive styles should also be taken into account. Read More

Wright, S., Silk, E. M., Daly, S. R., Jablokow, K. W., Yilmaz, S., & Teerlink, W. (2015, June). Exploring the effects of problem framing on solution shifts: A case analysis. Paper accepted to be presented at the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Annual Conference, Seattle, WA, USA. 


The Impact of Teaming and Cognitive Style on Student Perceptions of Design Ideation Outcomes (ASEE 2015)

Ideation is a key component of the design process, which often takes place in team settings. The team approach to design requires the involvement of all parties demonstrating the use of their expertise and knowledge in the area. Teaming has been shown to have both positive and negative impacts on ideation activities. Cognitive style – or the stable, preferred way that people manage and seek to bring about change – helps us understand the different ways in which people solve problems individually and as part of a team. When team members’ cognitive styles are diverse, creating an effect known as cognitive gap, the team may experience the advantages of approaching problems in diverse ways, but the likelihood of conflicts and misunderstandings increases.

This study investigated the relationship between cognitive style and the perceptions of students working in teams about their own ideation. Through the analysis of reflection surveys from 202 pre-engineering, engineering, and design students participating in an ideation study, we explored the following questions: (1) how does working in teams impact students' perceptions of their own ideation?; and (2) how do team members’ cognitive styles impact their perceptions of their ideation and team contributions? In this paper, we report on the significant correlations between cognitive style and changes in students’ perceptions about their ideation creativity, diversity, elaboration, and difficulty, as well as our exploration of the impact of teaming on these perceptions. Read More

PIC Papers Award Winner (DEED) in 2015 and Distinguished Lecture Award in 2016

Jablokow, K. W., Teerlink, W., Yilmaz, S., Daly, S. R., & Silk, E. M. (2015, June). The impact of teaming and cognitive style on student perceptions of design ideation outcomes. Paper accepted to be presented at the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Annual Conference, Seattle, WA, USA. 


Investigating Impacts on the Ideation Flexibility of Engineers (ASEE 2014)

Ideation is a critical skill for all engineers as they explore problem spaces and develop both short-term and long-term solutions. Engineers can benefit from developing proficiency in a diversity of ideation approaches in order to successfully perform in a variety of problem situations. However, the current engineering education paradigm lacks opportunities for engineering students to understand their own natural approaches to idea generation and to learn how to approach idea generation in other ways.

The focus of our work is ideation flexibility, what we define as the ability to ideate in both incremental and radical ways – or, more precisely, to be able to ideate along a continuum of approaches depending on the needs of the problem.  In this paper, we focus on the development of a sustainable foundation for our investigations of the factors impacting ideation flexibility. We present our basis and vision for this foundation, and illustrate some of our preliminary findings through case studies. Read More

Yilmaz, S., Daly, S. R., Jablokow, K. W., Silk, E. M., & Rosenberg, M. (2014, June). Investigating impacts on the ideation flexibility of engineers. Paper accepted for presentation at the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) 2014 Annual Conference, Indianapolis, IN, USA. 


The Design Problem Framework: Using Adaption-Innovation Theory to Construct Design Problem Statements (ASEE 2014) *Chosen for Distinguished Lectures 2014 Best Paper Presentations Session*

Ideation is the process of generating ideas for solving design problems, and it is a critical part of the overall design process. In order to encourage designers to ideate across a broader spectrum of ideas, we developed the Design Problem Framework (DPF) to assist in the development and framing of design problem statements. Part of the basis for the DPF was research on cognitive styles, which suggests that there is a range of preferences for approaching problem solving, and that these preferences influence how different individuals naturally approach ideation. We used Kirton’s Adaption-Innovation theory as a basis for understanding the range of cognitive styles. The other part of the basis for the DPF was research on problem framing, which suggests that the structure of design problem statements influences an individual’s approach and the outcomes produced.

Using the DPF as a foundation, we propose that design problems that encourage adaptive ideation behaviors include more specified constraints, along with criteria for solutions that build on already existing solutions to the same or similar problems. In contrast, design problems that encourage innovative ideation behaviors include criteria for solutions that are radically different from existing solutions and are not bound by specific constraints. In this paper, we present a set of five design problems constructed using the DPF, with three different versions of each problem statement: (1) a neutrally framed version; (2) an adaptively framed version; and (3) an innovatively framed version. Three examples of student-generated solutions are also discussed to illustrate the resulting outcomes. We propose this framework as a guide for the development of design problem statements for use in education, research, and the workplace. Read More

Silk, E. M., Daly, S. R., Jablokow, K. W., Yilmaz, S., & Rosenberg, M. (2014, June). The design problem framework: Using adaption-innovation theory to construct design problem statements. Paper accepted for publication in the Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) 2014 Annual Conference, Indianapolis, IN, USA. 


Interventions for Ideation: Impact of Framing, Teaming, and Tools on High School Students’ Design Fixation (AERA 2014)

Expert engineers are fluent at proposing many conceptual ideas early on in their process for solving a design problem. Beginning engineers are more likely to fixate on one or only a few ideas. Interventions aimed at this stage of the design process could help make it easier for beginning engineers to generate ideas that go beyond their initial ones. An experimental design tested the impact of four interventions on the ideation process of high school students: (1) Adaptive Framing, (2) Innovative Framing, (3) Teams, and (4) Tools

There was not a significant positive effect on the number of ideas generated or on participants’ perceived difficulty in generating ideas in any of the four interventions. Results suggest that further work needs to be conducted to improve these interventions so that they positively impact the ideation processes of beginning engineers. Read More

Silk, E. M., Daly, S. R., Jablokow, K. W., Yilmaz, S., & Rosenberg, M. (2014, April). Interventions for ideation: Impact of framing, teaming, and tools on high school students’ design fixation. Paper presented at the 2014 annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), Philadelphia, PA, USA.