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Investigating Student Perceptions of Team-based Brainstorming During Conceptual Design: Challenges and Recommendations

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Conference

2021 ASEE Pacific Southwest Conference - "Pushing Past Pandemic Pedagogy: Learning from Disruption"

Location

Virtual

Publication Date

April 23, 2021

Start Date

April 23, 2021

End Date

April 25, 2021

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

16

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/38238

Download Count

48

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Paper Authors

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Ahmed Osman California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

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Eric Cuellar California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

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Eric is an undergraduate student researching educational approaches to enhance creativity in engineering design teams. His interests include ideation tasks, idea selection, and metrics for creative capacity.

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Aimee Tai Chiem California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

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Christianna Bethel

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Benjamin David Lutz California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-2637-0942

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Ben D. Lutz is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Design at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He is the leader of the Critical Research in Engineering and Technology Education (CREATE) group at Cal Poly. His research interests include critical pedagogies; efforts for diversity, equity, and inclusion in engineering, engineering design theory and practice; conceptual change and understanding; and school-to-work transitions for new engineers. His current work explores a range of engineering education and design contexts, including the role of power in brainstorming activities, epistemological and conceptual development of undergraduate learning assistants, as well as the experiences of recent engineering graduates as they navigate new organizational cultures.

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Abstract

Brainstorming and ideation during preliminary design is a critical aspect of successful engineering design processes, and ensuring that the design space is fully explored is vital to the outcome of the process. As a result, it is important that engineering educators can facilitate ideation processes in ways that lead to successful, innovative solutions down the road. And while there exist a number of brainstorming tools to support ideation, each method is also accompanied by different advantages, drawbacks, and challenges. The purpose of this paper is to explore student perceptions related to challenges faced during both structured and unstructured brainstorming activities and to offer recommendations rooted in student experiences and reflections from these different processes. To address this purpose, we conducted a series of both structured and unstructured brainstorming activities and follow-up, retrospective focus groups with teams of engineering students. Students described salient challenges they encountered as they engaged in the brainstorming activity and offered recommendations for future groups of students who might engage in similar activities in the future. We used qualitative thematic analysis to explore dominant themes in student experiences and perceptions of the different brainstorming processes. Findings suggest that students encountered challenges in three major areas: 1) ignoring constraints, 2) accommodation of different ideation styles within a group, and 3) lack of familiarity with the design space. Notably, these findings were corroborated with quantitative data concerning the novelty of design solutions developed across different brainstorming groups. Based on these results, we recommend that engineering design educators consider facilitating ideation processes in ways that blend both structured and unstructured methods and, further, provide opportunities for engagement with relevant stakeholders within the design space prior to conceptual ideation activities. Our work offers engineering design educators and researchers tools to better understand salient factors that might influence and improve team-based brainstorming activities.

Osman, A., & Cuellar, E., & Chiem, A. T., & Bethel, C., & Lutz, B. D. (2021, April), Investigating Student Perceptions of Team-based Brainstorming During Conceptual Design: Challenges and Recommendations Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Pacific Southwest Conference - "Pushing Past Pandemic Pedagogy: Learning from Disruption", Virtual. https://peer.asee.org/38238

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