June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
Design in Engineering Education
13.1094.1 - 13.1094.18
Sorting Out “Creativity” in Design Assessment
This paper describes the early development of a practical framework for the assessment of products of design that is aimed at resolving some of the confusion surrounding “creativity” within that field. In particular, key concepts from problem solving theory are used to distinguish between the creative level and creative style of a product, and a new assessment instrument for the creative style of a product is introduced. The instrument is applied to a selection of fastener products to illustrate its use and explore its benefits and limitations.
Whether it takes place in industry or in the classroom, assessing the products of design is a challenging task that involves the evaluation of many interrelated factors. In addition to familiar criteria with fairly straightforward metrics (e.g., technical correctness, quality of performance, environmental impact), designs are often evaluated – both formally and informally – in terms of less concrete and generally ill-defined criteria like “creativity” or “innovativeness”. We say that these latter criteria are ill-defined because there is little consensus in the literature (even among experts) about the general definition of creativity, much less how creativity should be understood and interpreted when applied to specific domains like engineering design12, 19. The word “innovation” is currently suffering from a similar fate, with equally confusing results15.
In this paper, we will explore a framework for assessing products of design that helps alleviate this confusion by drawing a sharp distinction between the creative level and the creative style of a product. These two orthogonal (i.e., independent) dimensions have their roots in problem solving theory, where individual problem solvers are characterized by their diverse creative (cognitive) levels and creative (cognitive) styles11, 12, 16. In the context of the individual, creative level refers to a person’s capacity for problem solving, while creative style refers to the preferred manner in which an individual solves problems12.
Level and style can also be used to describe the outcomes of problem solving – i.e., to describe products. In this context, the creative level of a product refers to its degree of technical advancement and/or complexity, while the creative style of a product refers to its conceptual and practical relationship to the current technical “paradigm” or state-of-the-art. We will discuss in detail the distinction between the creative level and the creative style of a product and provide examples of features that characterize both.
In addition, we will present a new creative style assessment instrument for products of design. This assessment is based on six factors: the type of technical change represented by the product; the acceptability of the product; the technical feasibility of the product; the efficiency of the product; methods used in the product’s development and manufacture; and the knowledge context for the product7, all of which we will describe in detail. We will also demonstrate use of the instrument through its application to a sequence of fastener products developed between 1800 and the present (e.g., garment, slide, and “hookless” fasteners; various zipper designs;
Jablokow, K., & DeCristoforo, D. (2008, June), Sorting Out Creativity In Design Assessment Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3098
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