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Engineering Creativity and Propensity for Innovative Thinking In Undergraduate and Graduate Students

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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

Learning From Experts

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.580.1 - 22.580.7



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Paper Authors


Gisele Ragusa, Ph.D. University of Southern California

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Gisele Ragusa is an Associate Professor in the Viterbi School of Engineering and the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California. She has expertise in engineering education, pre-college engineering and in assessment and measurement.

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Engineering Creativity and Propensity for Innovative Thinking In Undergraduate and Graduate Students Abstract Over the past two decades, various research studies across education and businessfields hae attenpted to measure individuals’ creativity and innovative behavior. Theresearch on creativity has most often been accomplished in K-12 education whileresearch in innovation has focused on workplace measurement. Business research hasatempted to link metrics of innovation to entrepreurship. Educational research has notbroached this connection. Research is somewhat split as to whether creativity andinnovation are domain or disciplinary characteristics or traits or whether they can bemeasured in general form. Such research has not been focused on engineering or thesciences. This paper describes and presents results on an Engineering Creativity andInnovation Index (ECII) used with undergraduate and graduate engineering and sciencestudents. For our study, we measured students’ creativit and their propensity forinnovation. This metric is a new measure and is now also being used in engnineeringprograms nationally. We chose to include this metric as a consequence of ongoingconversations with engineering educators nationally and our desire to assess the role thatcomprehensive educational and engineering experiences have in important industrial andacademic skill sets. This new measure is aligned to several theoretical perspectives. Withregard to creativity theory it is aligned to robust creativity research by Torrance, Abedi’sand Khatena’s, and Rogers’ work on innovation and entrepreneurship. Constructs presentin the ECII measure include: flexibility, fluency, initiative, inquisitiveness, anddisciplined imagination. These constructs are closely aligned to the cited combinedresearch on creativity and innovation and domain specific to engineering and science.Result of this multidimensional metric are that the engineering students in our study werequite flexible (mean= 3.72 on a 4 point Likert type scale). Disciplined imagination ratingsare also quite advanced with our study sample (mean= 3.17). Additional results vary as aresult of experience and sociodemographic variables.These results reveal strongcreativity, and propensity for innovation and entrepreneurship in our student participants. This paper provides indications that creativity and propentsity for innovation maybe disciplinary. Additionally, our study results provide engineering educators withinformation about activities and pedagogical practices that they could engage in thatmight inspire creativity and innovation in students.

Ph.D., G. R. (2011, June), Engineering Creativity and Propensity for Innovative Thinking In Undergraduate and Graduate Students Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17861

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