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Exploring the Impact of Cognitive Preferences on Student Receptivity to Design Thinking

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Best of DEED

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.736.1 - 26.736.18



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Paper Authors


Jessica Menold Menold Pennsylvania State University, University Park

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Jessica Menold is a second year graduate student interested in entrepreneurship, the design process, and innovativeness of engineering graduates and professionals. She is currently working as a student mentor in the Lion Launch Pad program, where she works to support student entrepreneurs. Jessica is currently conducting her graduate research with Dr. Kathryn Jablokow on a project devoted to the development of a psychometric instrument that will measure the skills, behaviors, and traits of an innovative engineer. Her hope is that this awareness of individual innovativeness levels will enhance engineering professionals and student’s innovative skillsets. Jessica is also interested in studying and teaching design thinking methods to students, and is currently working to spread design thinking through mini-workshops across Penn State.

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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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Elizabeth C. Kisenwether Pennsylvania State University, University Park


Sarah E Zappe Pennsylvania State University, University Park

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Dr. Sarah Zappe is Research Associate and Director of Assessment and Instructional Support in the Leonhard Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Education at Penn State. She holds a doctoral degree in educational psychology emphasizing applied measurement and testing. In her position, Sarah is responsible for developing instructional support programs for faculty, providing evaluation support for educational proposals and projects, and working with faculty to publish educational research. Her research interests primarily involve creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship education.

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Exploring the Impact of Cognitive Preferences on Student Receptivity toDesign ThinkingAbstract:Design thinking is a popular design methodology that encourages iterative problem solving andfosters the creation of human-centered products. The design thinking method, born at the famousproduct development firm, IDEO, is intentionally loosely structured and fast paced, forcingdesigners to rapidly prototype and test potential innovations. With its less structured format,design thinking may be more appealing and more readily accepted and adopted by someindividuals than others – as anecdotal evidence collected from design classrooms and designthinking workshops seems to indicate. The aim of this study is to determine whether studentreceptivity to design thinking might be linked to individual cognitive characteristics that reflectinnate structural preferences.In particular, this work reports on a pilot study that explores individual problem solving stylesand their relation to student levels of frustration during the design thinking process. Kirton’sAdaption-Innovation inventory (KAI®), which is a highly reliable psychometric instrument thatmeasures an individual’s innate preference for structure, is used to assess each student’s problemsolving style. Self-Assessment Manikin (SAM), an ecological momentary mood assessment, isused to track fluctuations in the students’ moods throughout the design thinking process. Thesefluctuations in mood will be correlated with problem solving style to determine whethercognitive preference is a likely factor in students’ reactions and receptivity to design thinking.Data collection for this project is currently underway. This paper will provide a detaileddiscussion of our experimental protocol, data analysis, and implications for engineering designeducators – especially those who want to integrate design thinking in their classrooms.

Menold, J., & Jablokow, K. W., & Kisenwether, E. C., & Zappe, S. E. (2015, June), Exploring the Impact of Cognitive Preferences on Student Receptivity to Design Thinking Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24073

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