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Ideation Variety in Mechanical Design: Examining the Effects of Cognitive Style and Design Heuristics

[+] Author Affiliations
Kathryn Jablokow, Wesley Teerlink

Penn State University, University Park, PA

Seda Yilmaz, Christian Wehr

Iowa State University, Ames, IA

Shanna Daly

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

Eli Silk

Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ

Paper No. DETC2015-46334, pp. V003T04A025; 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


This paper examines ideation variety as a measure of the extent to which a design solution space has been explored. We investigated one cognitive factor (cognitive style) and one cognitive intervention (Design Heuristics cards) and their relationships with students’ ideation variety, both actual and perceived. Cognitive style was measured using the Kirton Adaption-Innovation inventory (KAI), while variety scores were computed using the metrics of Nelson et al. [18] and Shah et al. [20]; an adapted form of these metrics was also explored. A group of 132 sophomore mechanical engineering students generated ideas for two design problems (one with and one without Design Heuristics cards). They sketched and described their conceptual solutions in words and assessed the variety of their solutions after ideation. Linear statistical techniques were applied to explore the relationships among the variety scores, students’ self-assessments of variety, cognitive style, quantity of ideas, and the presence of the Design Heuristics intervention. Our results show statistically significant correlations between students’ perceived variety and their variety performance, and between cognitive style and both variety performance and student perceptions.

Copyright © 2015 by ASME



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