June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
Design in Engineering Education
26.734.1 - 26.734.29
Exploring the Effects of Problem Framing on Solution Shifts: A Case AnalysisBoth students in engineering and practicing engineers are continually challenged with newproblems to solve. We propose that the way the problem is presented will influence theengineer’s ideation processes, and eventually, the design outcomes. In our previous research, wedeveloped three categories of framings for design problem statements based on Kirton’sAdaption-Innovation theory: (1) neutral framing, (2) adaptive framing, and (3) innovativeframing. The neutral framing is intended to leave designers uninfluenced with respect to theirnatural ideation processes. The adaptive framing offers additional constraints to the problem,encouraging designers to generate practical solutions based on pre-existing designs. Theinnovative framing is constructed to push designers towards radical solutions that are not basedon pre-existing designs. In this paper, we aimed to test to what extent and in what ways studentsshift their design ideas based on how the design problems were framed.A study was conducted with 36 prospective engineering students participating in a high schoolsummer outreach program at a large Midwestern university. Students were first given a neutrallyframed problem statement and asked to generate solutions to the problem using visual and verbaldepictions. After this ideation session, they were given either an adaptively or innovativelyframed problem statement for a different design problem. Following each ideation session,students were asked to complete a reflection survey to provide some insight into how theyperceived their own ideation during the session.We used the concept of paradigm relatedness as our primary lens to explore how students’ ideaswere influenced by different problem framings. Paradigm relatedness was defined as the extentto which an idea preserves the focus, assumptions, elements, and relationships associated withthe problem definition. Based on these four facets of paradigm relatedness, ideas from the studywere coded into one of two general types of paradigm relatedness: paradigm preserving andparadigm modifying. Using the coded results, we analyzed the effect of problem framing on theparadigm relatedness of individual solutions. We identified students whose ideas shifted betweenparadigm modifying and paradigm preserving when framing changed, as well as students whoseideas remained consistent within one type of paradigm relatedness despite framing changes. Weanalyzed cases of students of each type, using their generated idea sets and reflection surveys todescribe the influence of the framed design problem statements on their ideation approaches.
Wright, S. M., & Silk, E. M., & Daly, S. R., & Jablokow, K. W., & McKIlligan, S. (2015, June), Exploring the Effects of Problem Framing on Solution Shifts: A Case Study Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24071
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