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Examining the effect of a paradigm-relatedness problem framing tool on idea generation
Annual Meeting of American Society of Engineering Education (2017)
  • Amy Rechkemmer, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
  • Maya Makhlouf, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
  • Jennifer Wenger, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
  • Eli Silk, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
  • Shanna Daly, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
  • Seda McKilligan, Iowa State University
  • Kathryn Jablokow, Pennsylvania State University
Considering a wide range of ideas is crucial for engineers as they seek to solve complex
problems. Paradigm-relatedness is one dimension on which ideas can range from more
incremental—ideas that refine and improve existing solutions—to more radical—ideas that
approach a problem from a new perspective or seemingly unrelated angle. We developed a tool
that consists of a set of framing strategies an engineer can apply to a design task to assist in
generating ideas that differ from their initial ideas. We created two versions of the tool—one
with an incremental set of framing strategies and another with a radical set. We explored whether
the framing tool impacted the paradigm-relatedness of ideas generated in conceptual design
sessions. Forty-five students attending a summer engineering outreach program participated in
the study. Participants were given a problem statement and generated ideas initially without the
tool and then with the version of the tool of their choosing. Post hoc, we coded each idea as more
incremental or more radical on a four-point scale and examined the change in ideas between the
first ideation session and the second. It was found that 73% of the participants chose the framing
tool version we would have assigned to them based on our coding of their initial ideas. All of
these participants exhibited a shift in the predicted paradigm-relatedness direction, providing
support for the overall effectiveness of the tool. However, some participants selected a version of
the tool that was not consistent with our intended use of the tool, and this happened more often
with the incremental version of the tool. Those participants were inconsistent in shifting their
ideas. Case examples were explored to gain insight into the ways in which the tool was effective
as well as how it could be improved.
Publication Date
Summer June, 2017
Citation Information
Amy Rechkemmer, Maya Makhlouf, Jennifer Wenger, Eli Silk, et al.. "Examining the effect of a paradigm-relatedness problem framing tool on idea generation" Annual Meeting of American Society of Engineering Education (2017)
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