New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation
The interface between Cognitive Science and Innovation
This paper addresses an observed shortcoming of university efforts towards innovation – particularly at land grant STEM-focused institutions. Specifically the observation is that considerably more effort has been expended on actions towards realization and commercialization of ideas than has been invested in research on the actual ideation process, how it occurs in the minds of the ideators, as well as which conditions promote it. This hypothesis is borne out by comparing university investments in ideation research to funds appropriated for realization and commercialization.
Given the aforementioned observation, the author sought to develop a base for subsequent research into the processes involved in ideation as they occur in the minds of the innovator(s). As such this is a work-in-progress and the description it presents of the interface between cognitive science and innovation will serve as the theoretical framework for subsequent research. Furthermore this research is expected to be interdisciplinary in that it will likely involve the disciplines of psychology and cognitive science as well as those of engineering and technology education. The goal for this is to better understand ideation and thereby create more effective programs to help participants become more innovative. The paper is structured into the following sections: • An introduction overviewing the importance of innovation studies • Presentation of a model for the concept of innovation • A summary of the key principles of cognitive science • Highlighting of metacognition as a key factor for the ideator’s conscious regulation of the innovation process • Discussion of the role of motivation as a driver of innovation • Proposal of a composite model of the mental processes related to innovation • Presentation of a set of questions, emanating from the proposed model, that would seem advantageous to guide/frame subsequent research activity • Summary • References
The concept of innovation is first overviewed in terms of its importance to problem solving, creating of opportunities, growing the economy, and of challenging people. Subsequently the context for innovation is explained using the activity sectors of economic development, workforce development, quality improvement, sustainability, efficiency enhancement, and technology advancement. Finally the introductory portion of the paper concludes with the presentation of the author’s concept for innovation, i.e., a model that encompasses the full spectrum of activity beginning with ideation and then ranging through to realization and commercialization.
Subsequently, the paper focuses on the front end of the aforementioned innovation continuum, namely ideation, and the critical dimensions of mental activity ideation involves. It is posited that these are better understood and studied through the lens of cognitive science. A systematic review of the scholarly literature revealed that the topic of ideation, as applied to engineering and technology, has received considerably less research effort than has realization and commercialization. The three major findings of this review are highlighted by providing summaries of each: (1) the principles of cognitive science, (2) the concept and processes of metacognition, and the motivations for innovation. Based on these findings the author then generated a composite model for the metal processes involved in innovation. Both graphic and taxonomic descriptions of this composite model are be presented.
Finally the paper concludes with a set of questions/research topics that represent fruitful areas for further research that would certainly help engineering and technology educators develop programs to enhance both the capability for innovation as well as the proclivity to innovate. A carefully selected list of references is provided and session time will be allowed for audience questions/comments solicited to guide future research directions.
Dyrenfurth, M. J. (2016, June), The Interface between Cognitive Science and Innovation Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26199
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