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Design Heuristics: An Evidence-Based Tool to Improve Innovation

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

NSF Grantees’ Poster Session

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.367.1 - 24.367.15



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Paper Authors


Seda Yilmaz Iowa State University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Yilmaz is an Assistant Professor of Industrial Design who teaches design studios and lecture courses on developing creativity and research skills. For her research, she investigates design approaches and ideation, creative processes, and cross-disciplinary design team dynamics. She is the author of more than 20 peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings. She also serves on review, advisory, and scientific boards of various journals and conferences. Her current research focuses on identifying impacts of different factors on ideation of designers and engineers, developing instructional materials for 77 cards, and designing innovation workshops for students without design or engineering background and teaching them design thinking methodologies. She received her PhD degree in Design Science in 2010 from University of Michigan. She is also a faculty in Human Computer Interaction Graduate Program and a research faculty in Center for e-Design.

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Shanna R. Daly University of Michigan Orcid 16x16

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Shanna Daly is an Assistant Research Scientist and Adjunct Assistant Professor in the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan. She has a B.E. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Dayton and a Ph.D. in Engineering Education from Purdue University. Her research focuses on idea generation, design strategies, design ethnography, creativity instruction, and engineering practitioners who return to graduate school. She teaches design and entrepreneurship courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Her work is often cross-disciplinary, collaborating with colleagues from engineering, education, psychology, and industrial design.

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Colleen M. Seifert University of Michigan

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Evidence-based Pedagogy in Engineering Education: Design Heuristics for Concept GenerationA recent National Academy of Engineering report stated, “To capitalize on opportunities created byscientific discoveries, the nation must have engineers who can invent new products and services, createnew industries and jobs, and generate new wealth” (Engineering Research and America’s Future: Meetingthe Challenges of a Global Economy, 2005). With increased international competition, economicuncertainty, and environmental resource limitations, there is a need for trained engineers who canexamine problems from different perspectives and produce innovative and practical solutions. Mostengineering students, however, find creative thinking to be much more difficult than technical thinking,and struggle to generate novel concepts. A contributing factor is the limitations in existing pedagogy tosupport idea generation within engineering.This paper describes research investigating the role of Design Heuristics, a concept generation tool usedduring the design ideation process to support engineers in generating multiple, diverse concepts. DesignHeuristics are strategies to help engineers consider possible designs that may not otherwise come to mind.The Design Heuristics tool resulted from empirical studies of real-world expert product designs, casestudies of expert design processes, and think-aloud protocols with designers as they generated concepts.The resulting set of 77 distinct Design Heuristics is provided as easy-to-use prompts to guide bothnovices and expert engineers in the generation of design concepts. Design Heuristics have beensuccessfully tested in engineering classrooms, and have been readily adopted by students to help themcreate more, more creative, and more diverse concepts. The research brings evidence, methods, andperspectives from multiple disciplines, including cognitive and social psychology, to bear on theengineering design domain.Our goal for supporting the translation of this research into practice is to further validate this method andto develop a targeted pedagogical program on Design Heuristics that will allow engineering educatorsacross the U.S. to incorporate this pedagogy within their existing courses. We aim to (1) raise awarenessof the importance of teaching engineering students to think creatively; (2) train instructors how to teachDesign Heuristics within existing engineering classes; (3) assess learning outcomes from this pedagogyfrom diverse instructors, courses and universities; and (4) incorporate the lessons learned to develop aneffective, easy-to-adopt curriculum for teaching engineering students how to generate creative concepts.

Yilmaz, S., & Daly, S. R., & Seifert, C. M. (2014, June), Design Heuristics: An Evidence-Based Tool to Improve Innovation Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20258

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