How Concept Selection Tools Impact the Development of Creative Ideas in Engineering Design Education

[+] Author and Article Information
Xuan Zheng

ASME Member, The Pennsylvania State University, 343 Leonhard Building, University Park, PA 16802

Sarah Ritter

The Pennsylvania State University, 213 Hammond Building, University Park, PA 16802-1401

Scarlett Miller

ASME Member, The Pennsylvania State University, 213-P Hammond Building, University Park, PA 16802-1401

1Corresponding author.

ASME doi:10.1115/1.4039338 History: Received June 12, 2017; Revised January 17, 2018


Concept selection tools have been heavily integrated into engineering design education in an effort to reduce the risks and uncertainties of early-phase design ideas and aid students in the decision-making process. However, little research has examined the utility of these tools in promoting creative ideas or their impact on student team decision-making throughout the conceptual design process. To fill this research gap, the current study was designed to compare the impact of two concept selection tools, the Concept Selection Matrix (CSM) and the Tool for Assessing Semantic Creativity (TASC) on the average quality (AQL) and average novelty (ANV) of ideas selected by student teams at several decision points throughout an 8-week project. The results of the study showed that the AQL increased significantly in the detailed design stage, while the ANV did not change. However, this change in idea quality was not significantly impacted by the concept selection tool used, suggesting other factors may impact student decision-making and the development of creative ideas. Finally, student teams were found to select ideas ranked highly in concept selection tools only when these ideas met their expectations, indicating that cognitive biases may be significantly impeding decision-making.

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