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An Assessment of Creative Capabilities in Technological Design

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Research on Engineering Design Education

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.163.1 - 22.163.10



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Paper Authors


Leslie Reed Purdue University

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Ms. Reed is the founder and CEO of Reed Environmental, Inc., a comprehensive safety, industrial hygiene and environmental consulting firm founded in 1989. She is presently working on a Ph.D. in Technology from Purdue University.

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Michael J. Dyrenfurth Purdue University, College of Technology, West Lafayette

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Michael Dyrenfurth is professor in the Department of Industrial Technology at Purdue University. He is co-PI of the DETECT and Atlantis Concurrent M.S. degree projects. Active in international aspects of the profession, he teaches and researches in the areas of technological innovation, technological literacy, and international dimensions of technological education.

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An Assessment of Creative Capabilities in Technological Design The ability of organizations to capitalize on rapid technological advancement effectivelythrough the process of innovation is a primary means of generating value in the 21 st centuryglobal economy. Successful innovation requires a unique set of intertwined resources includingtangible resources, such as financial and physical assets; intangible resources, such as brand andreputation; and human-based resources, such as knowledge, skills and capabilities. Creativecapabilities, a component of human-based resources, are individual skills, abilities and behaviorsnecessary for creative work in a given domain. These capabilities are determined by a complexblend of cognitive characteristics such as thinking style, knowledge, and insight process skills;personal attributes such as motivation, confidence, and risk-taking comfort; and environmentalinfluences such as organizational structures, practices, resources and cultural considerations. The focus of this research was the study of student creative capabilities in a senior designproject in electrical and computer engineering technology. The problem explored by the studywas the perceived gap between the creative capabilities students brought to bear when solvingtechnological problems and the level of creativity demonstrated in the products generated in thedesign process. The study was largely exploratory and designed to measure broad influences oncreative behavior, including personality traits and behaviors, insight abilities, motivation,cognitive style, domain knowledge, and learning style. The project was driven by the belief thatall individuals have the potential to be creative; that creative capabilities can be supported ordiscouraged by certain factors in the environment; and that efforts to enhance the production ofcreative products and ideas should be grounded in a given domain for maximum benefit. Individual creative capabilities were measured using the Katina-Torrance CreativePerception Inventory-KTCPI (personality traits), the Work Preference Inventory-WPI(motivation), the Cognitive Style Inventory-CSI (cognitive style), the Adult Torrance Test ofAbilities-ATTA (insight capabilities), and the ASSIST (learning style). Domain-relatedknowledge was measured by student performance (GPA) in eleven sophomore- and junior-levelcourses required of a bachelor’s degree in the field, while creative production was measured by afaculty-developed assessment matrix used during the final presentation of senior design projects.The goal of the study was to provide guidance for technology teachers as they prepare studentsfor work in an innovation economy where creative capabilities are a highly valued human asset. Preliminary results indicate that students in this cohort scored significantly higher thanpopulation means on the ATTA and the KTCPI, suggesting stronger insight abilities and creativepersonality traits than the average. The CSI scores indicated a strong preference towardanalytical information processing rather than intuitive, a finding that mirrors other studies oftechnology and engineering students. The ASSIST scores indicated that students were moreinclined to approach the learning environment in a deep or strategic manner, rather than throughsuperficial means, yet student performance on the WPI indicated a stronger than averageextrinsic motivational orientation. The analysis of the relationships between the capabilitiesmeasured and their impact on creative production is in progress.

Reed, L., & Dyrenfurth, M. J. (2011, June), An Assessment of Creative Capabilities in Technological Design Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17444

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