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A Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Examination of the Development of Innovation Capability in Undergraduate Engineering Students

[+] Author Affiliations
Trina C. Kershaw, Rebecca L. Peterson, Molly A. McCarthy, Adam P. Young, Sankha Bhowmick

University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, North Dartmouth, MA

Carolyn Conner Seepersad, Paul T. Williams

University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX

Katja Hölttä-Otto

Singapore University of Technology and Design, Singapore

Paper No. DETC2015-47650, pp. V003T04A008; 10 pages
  • ASME 2015 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 3: 17th International Conference on Advanced Vehicle Technologies; 12th International Conference on Design Education; 8th Frontiers in Biomedical Devices
  • Boston, Massachusetts, USA, August 2–5, 2015
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division, Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5710-6
  • Copyright © 2015 by ASME


Multiple research studies have examined the role of the undergraduate engineering curriculum on students’ innovation capabilities. The majority of these studies have used cross-sectional samples to compare students at the beginning and end of their college careers, and most results have shown that seniors outperform freshmen. In the following paper, we use a combination of cross-sectional and longitudinal comparisons to uncover when innovation capabilities grow. Over a two-year period, undergraduate engineering majors at different points in their college careers completed concept generation tasks. Their resulting concepts were scored for originality. While no difference was found from freshman to senior year using a cross-sectional comparison, a significant increase in originality was found between separate senior groups at the beginning and end of a capstone course. The difference between the senior groups occurred despite no difference between these students in academic performance or engineering design self-efficacy. In addition, a significant increase in originality was found from junior to senior year using a longitudinal analysis. This increase in originality occurred without corresponding changes in academic performance or engineering design self-efficacy. These results are discussed in relation to prior research regarding the interplay between curricular and individual difference factors in the development of students’ innovation capabilities.

Copyright © 2015 by ASME



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