Exploration and exploitation in engineering design: Examining the effects of prior knowledge on creativity and ideation

Andrea Goncher, Aditya Johri, Shreya Kothaneth, Vinod Lohani

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperConference paper

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In this paper, we contribute to the work on design thinking and learning by examining students' creativity within engineering design activities. In particular, we investigate how students explore novel solutions while exploiting prior knowledge. We present findings from a field study of a nine-week long design project where student design teams worked on renewable energy solutions for a farm in New Hampshire. The data for this study comes from a larger effort where we collected data on multiple student teams, however in this paper we focus on one design team using video, audio, survey and interview data. The variation in design solutions offered by the design team and their prior experiences suggest a link between exploitation - using what they know - and exploration - applying the knowledge in novel ways. Students started with easily available alternative solutions to the problem, engaging in discussion around those solutions, and then exploring the possibility of applying that solution within the constraints of the design space. Prior experience was related to the conception for the final design irrespective of the novelty of the solution. However, students' self perceived experience with design and technology was not as strongly correlated with assessment of the final design.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication39th Annual Frontiers in Education Conference
Subtitle of host publicationImagining and Engineering Future CSET Education, FIE 2009
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes
Event39th Annual Frontiers in Education Conference: Imagining and Engineering Future CSET Education, FIE 2009 - San Antonio, TX, United States
Duration: 18 Oct 200921 Oct 2009

Conference

Conference39th Annual Frontiers in Education Conference: Imagining and Engineering Future CSET Education, FIE 2009
CountryUnited States
CitySan Antonio, TX
Period18/10/0921/10/09

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    Goncher, A., Johri, A., Kothaneth, S., & Lohani, V. (2009). Exploration and exploitation in engineering design: Examining the effects of prior knowledge on creativity and ideation. In 39th Annual Frontiers in Education Conference: Imagining and Engineering Future CSET Education, FIE 2009 [5350620] https://doi.org/10.1109/FIE.2009.5350620