Research Papers: Design Theory and Methodology

The Effects of Designers' Contextual Experience on the Ideation Process and Design Outcomes

[+] Author and Article Information
Wan-Lin Hu

School of Mechanical Engineering,
Purdue University,
West Lafayette, IN 47907
e-mail: hu188@purdue.edu

Tahira Reid

School of Mechanical Engineering,
Purdue University,
West Lafayette, IN 47907
e-mail: tahira@purdue.edu

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Design Theory and Methodology Committee of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF MECHANICAL DESIGN. Manuscript received October 30, 2017; final manuscript received June 6, 2018; published online July 30, 2018. Assoc. Editor: Harrison M. Kim.

J. Mech. Des 140(10), 101101 (Jul 30, 2018) (11 pages) Paper No: MD-17-1726; doi: 10.1115/1.4040625 History: Received October 30, 2017; Revised June 06, 2018

Personal context-specific experience can affect how a designer evaluates a design problem and proposes solutions. However, this effect was seldom discovered in a quantitative manner in problem-solving design tasks. This paper uses empirical evidence and quantitative methods to show the effects of novice designers' contextual experience on design tasks, particularly as it relates to the design process and design outcomes. Thirty-three people performed two design tasks while their cognitive states were assessed using electroencephalography (EEG). Moreover, the objective ratings (i.e., quantity, novelty and quality) from prospective users were analyzed to gauge the effect of contextual experience on design outcomes. Results suggest that during ideation, contextual experience has a negative effect on mental states associated with creativity and also on the novelty evaluations of the proposed solutions in the tested design tasks. This research advances the development of design methods for novice designers.

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Fig. 1

Experimental setup for discovering the effect of designers' contextual experience in the design task. Participants in group 1 reported having experience in car driving but having no experience in intercontinental travel in the past 5 years, which was opposite to participants in group 2. The effect on mental states was tested via a within-subject analysis (i.e., task 1 versus task 2), while the effect on design outcomes was tested via a between-subject analysis (i.e., group 1 versus group 2). Subgroups A and B counterbalanced possible ordering effects.

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Fig. 2

A participant wearing the EEG headset on the head at the workstation used to conduct the study. The design task instruction and a timer are shown on the computer screen.

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Fig. 3

The decision tree used to determine the novelty of each idea. Numbers at the end are the resulted ratings. The tree was adapted from Kershaw et al. [79].

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Fig. 4

The decision tree used to determine the quality of each idea. Numbers at the end are the resulted ratings. The tree was adapted from Kershaw et al. [79].

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Fig. 5

Examples of design solutions for the improving driving safety task generated by two participants. These examples are chosen arbitrarily to demonstrate different approaches participants used.

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Fig. 6

Examples of design solutions for the improving travel comfort task generated by different participants. These examples are chosen arbitrarily to demonstrate different approaches participants used.



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