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Examining the Effect of a Paradigm-Relatedness Problem-Framing Tool on Idea Generation

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Conference

2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2019

Start Date

June 24, 2019

End Date

June 28, 2019

Conference Session

The Best in DEED

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count

25

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/28319

Download Count

13

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Paper Authors

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Amy E. Rechkemmer University of Michigan

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Amy Rechkemmer is a junior student of Computer Science Engineering at the University of Michigan.

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Maya Z. Makhlouf University of Michigan

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Maya Makhlouf is a sophomore student of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Michigan.

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Jennifer M. Wenger University of Michigan

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Jennifer Wenger is a senior student of Industrial and Operations Engineering at the University of Michigan.

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Eli M. Silk Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-1248-6629

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Eli Silk is an Assistant Professor of Professional Practice in the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.

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Shanna R. Daly University of Michigan Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-4698-2973

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Shanna Daly is an Assistant Professor in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Michigan. She has a B.E. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Dayton (2003) and a Ph.D. in Engineering Education from Purdue University (2008). Her research focuses on strategies for design innovations through divergent and convergent thinking as well as through deep needs and community assessments using design ethnography, and translating those strategies to design tools and education. She teaches design and entrepreneurship courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels, focusing on front-end design processes.

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Seda McKilligan Iowa State University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-7446-3380

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Dr. McKilligan is an Associate Professor of Industrial Design. She teaches design studios and lecture courses on developing creativity and research skills. Her current research focuses on identifying impacts of different factors on ideation of designers and engineers, developing instructional materials for design ideation, and foundations of innovation. She often conducts workshops on design thinking to a diverse range of groups including student and professional engineers and faculty member from different universities. 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 the ISU Site Co-Director for Center for e-Design.

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Kathryn W. Jablokow Pennsylvania State University, Great Valley

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Dr. Kathryn Jablokow is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Design at Penn State University. A graduate of Ohio State University (Ph.D., Electrical Engineering), Dr. Jablokow’s teaching and research interests include problem solving, invention, and creativity in science and engineering, as well as robotics and computational dynamics. In addition to her membership in ASEE, she is a Senior Member of IEEE and a Fellow of ASME. Dr. Jablokow is the architect of a unique 4-course module focused on creativity and problem solving leadership and is currently developing a new methodology for cognition-based design. She is one of three instructors for Penn State’s Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Creativity, Innovation, and Change, and she is the founding director of the Problem Solving Research Group, whose 50+ collaborating members include faculty and students from several universities, as well as industrial representatives, military leaders, and corporate consultants.

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Abstract

Considering a wide range of ideas is critical for engineers as they seek to improve existing solutions and solve new problems. One dimension on which to broaden the range of ideas considered is paradigm-relatedness, which is defined by a spectrum from incremental to radical. An incremental idea is one that refines and improves on existing solutions, leading to evolutionary changes. A radical idea is one where the problem is viewed from a new perspective, or seemingly unrelated ideas are connected within the problem context, potentially leading to revolutionary changes. Both types of ideas are important to be able to generate and consider. We developed a theoretically- and empirically-grounded tool to help engineers generate ideas that span the paradigm-relatedness spectrum. The tool provides framing statements that are added onto an original design task description, pushing the designer to shift toward generating ideas that differ from those they generated initially. In this study, we explored the extent to which the framing tool impacted the paradigm-relatedness of ideas that high school student designers developed during an experimental design session.

Eighty-six prospective engineering students at a large Midwestern university participated in the study. First, participants received a neutral description of a design task and were given 20 minutes to generate 5 ideas. Second, participants listened to a presentation on the difference between ideas across the paradigm-relatedness spectrum, and then self-assessed their ideas on a 4-level scale ranging from incremental to radical. Third, they were given a framing tool designed to push them in the opposite direction of their initial ideas based on their self-assessment. An additional 20 minutes were spent generating 5 more ideas while using the framing tool. Finally, participants self-assessed the ideas generated with the framing tool. Reflection surveys were given at the end of each ideation session to gain insight into how participants perceived the quality of their design solutions.

This initial analysis focused on a subsample of 23 participants. To analyze the participants’ ideas more objectively, two researchers independently coded the ideas on a 4-level coding metric ranging from incremental to radical. All disagreements were resolved through a consensus discussion. To generate a shift score for each participant, we took the average level of their ideas generated with the tool and subtracted it from the average level of their ideas generated without the tool. A positive difference indicated a more radical shift and a negative difference indicated a more incremental shift. We found that 78% of the students shifted their ideas in the direction the problem framing tool prompted (more incremental or more radical), providing evidence of the framing tool’s effectiveness. In our paper, we detail the design of the tool, present summative data across the participants, and examine cases that illustrate the tool’s impact. We also discuss possible improvements to the tool and its potential use for engineering students and practitioners.

Rechkemmer, A. E., & Makhlouf, M. Z., & Wenger, J. M., & Silk, E. M., & Daly, S. R., & McKilligan, S., & Jablokow, K. W. (2019, June), Examining the Effect of a Paradigm-Relatedness Problem-Framing Tool on Idea Generation Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. https://peer.asee.org/28319

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