Examining the effect of a paradigm-relatedness problem-framing tool on idea generation

Amy E. Rechkemmer, Maya Z. Makhlouf, Jennifer M. Wenger, Eli M. Silk, Shanna R. Daly, Seda McKilligan, Kathryn W. Jablokow

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jun 24 2017
Event124th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - Columbus, United States
Duration: Jun 25 2017Jun 28 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Engineering(all)


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