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Investigation of a professor’s feedback on student’s divergent thinking performance: an electrodermal activity experiment

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2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Minneapolis, MN

Publication Date

August 23, 2022

Start Date

June 26, 2022

End Date

June 29, 2022

Conference Session

Industrial Engineering Division Technical Session 2

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Paper Authors


Elif Gunay

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Elif Elçin Günay is an assistant professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering at Sakarya University, Turkey. She received her B.S.E., M.S.E., and Ph.D. degrees in Industrial Engineering from Sakarya University, Turkey, in 2007, 2009, and 2016 respectively. She worked in the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering at Iowa State University as a post-doctoral research associate between 2017-2018. Her research interest includes optimization in manufacturing and service systems, stochastic processes, and engineering education. Her recent research interests focus on enhancing creativity in engineering classrooms.

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Janet Van Hell Pennsylvania State University


Zahed Siddique University of Oklahoma

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Zahed Siddique is a Professor in the School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Oklahoma.

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Rafal Jonczyk


Danielle Dickson

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Danielle Dickson received her PhD from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2016 with a dissertation examining the memory system’s representation of numerical information, using behavioral and electro-physiological (EEG, brainwaves) measures. She extended this work into comparisons of children and adults’ arithmetic processing as a postdoctoral scholar at The University of Texas San Antonio. Her most recent research examines creative thinking processes as an area of postdoctoral research at The Pennsylvania State University.

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Throughout their education, college students receive feedback about their performance from professors, who are experts in their field. The way this feedback is expressed can influence students’ future performances. One theory is that feedback from an authority figure invoking negative gender stereotypes, even unintentionally, might negatively affect performance. In this study, we aimed to investigate how an authority figure’s feedback affects divergent thinking in male and female industrial engineering students. We targeted industrial engineers because of the relatively high gender balance in their student population. The divergent thinking abilities of the students were measured with a two-phase test consisting of the alternate uses task (AUT) and the utopian situations task (UST), with ideational fluency (number of ideas produced) as the critical output measure. Students were asked to complete both tasks while their electrodermal activity (EDA) was recorded, a biological measure that is thought to reflect engagement. The students’ divergent thinking abilities and electrodermal levels were then compared before and after two forms of feedback: positive and negative (stereotype threat). Results showed that the number of ideas generated was significantly decreased after negative feedback. However, no significant change in ideation fluency occurred after the positive feedback delivery. There was no significant task-related EDA change under positive and negative feedback interventions. These results demonstrate that this type of research can contribute critical new information for educators on how to provide more effective feedback regarding student task performance.

Gunay, E., & Van Hell, J., & Siddique, Z., & Jonczyk, R., & Dickson, D. (2022, August), Investigation of a professor’s feedback on student’s divergent thinking performance: an electrodermal activity experiment Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN. 10.18260/1-2--41544

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