Ideation flexibility is the ability to generate ideas in both incremental and radical ways—and everything in between. This skill is important for all engineers as they generate solutions for both immediate and long-term problems.
High Performance Design Teams
In this NSF-funded project, we are mapping the individual characteristics (e.g., cognitive level, cognitive style) and dynamic interactions of team members to their design performance in order to identify the behavioral building blocks of design teams that produce the most successful outcomes (i.e., High Performance Design Teams).
To date, we have analyzed more than 30 teams across a wide range of organizations, including student teams, entrepreneurial teams, industry teams, and military teams. Our methods of analysis include the Interaction Dynamics Notation (IDN) and Kirton’s Adaption-Innovation framework and inventory (KAI), as well as a range of design outcome metrics. This research is a collaborative effort between Penn State University and Stanford University.
Interpersonal Risk-Taking in Design
In addition to strong technical skills, the effectiveness of engineering teams depends on establishing good communication patterns and safe environments that support active engagement and creative problem-solving behavior. These skills, both technical and interpersonal, take time to learn, so it is important to understand how they develop across the engineering design process and when suitable interventions might be needed to help engineers learn them more effectively.
In this NSF-funded research, we are exploring the role of team communication patterns on engineering student team performance throughout the design process and the role that the composition of the team plays in these dynamic relationships.
Significant resources are spent nationally to foster technical innovation, yet confusion remains about the factors that enable individual contributions throughout the innovation process.
This NSF-funded collaborative project combines expertise in cognitive diversity at Penn State University with expertise in assessment and entrepreneurship at Purdue University to characterize and assess key innovativeness factors in engineers across the stages of problem solving. Our unique contributions include creating, validating, and disseminating a new instrument (ABAKAS: Assessment of Behaviors, Attitudes, Knowledge, Attributes and Skills) to assess these factors in engineering students and practitioners.
What happens when you give a designer (or anyone, for that matter) an impossible goal or problem to solve? Not just difficult, but literally impossible from every known perspective—such as building a perpetual motion machine or traveling faster than the speed of light or recreating Doctor Who’s TARDIS.
How do people think about and work toward impossible goals compared to possible, probable, and improbable goals? How do people approach impossible problems and what kinds of ideas do they generate? In this project, we are investigating how problem-solving behavior varies for design problems of different “possibilities” with the aim of developing techniques to encourage more complete exploration of design spaces.
In the Creative Fluency Project, we explore the latest research on creativity and provide resources for people to enhance and encourage their creative potential. As a 2018-19 Teaching and Learning with Technology (TLT) Fellow, Dr. Jablokow led the Do-iT lab team in creating a new web site to highlight this work. In particular, the new website features the Creativity Compendium, which provides links to over 1000 creativity techniques, articles, exercises, videos, and other materials - all publicly available. Check it out today!