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Analogy Seeded Mind-Maps: A Comparison of Verbal and Pictorial Representation of Analogies in the Concept Generation Process

[+] Author Affiliations
K. Scott Marshall, Richard Crawford

University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX

Daniel Jensen

United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, CO

Paper No. DETC2016-60100, pp. V007T06A010; 10 pages
  • ASME 2016 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 7: 28th International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology
  • Charlotte, North Carolina, USA, August 21–24, 2016
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division, Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5019-0
  • Copyright © 2016 by ASME


Recent research has investigated methods based on design-by-analogy meant to enhance concept generation. While these analogies can be developed in different ways and can come from many different areas, one of the most common methods is to use key customer needs or key functions as the starting point. One approach uses these key terms to seed a search for grammatically similar words. While these methods are promising, they can be cumbersome and difficult to apply in engineering classrooms or industrial product development settings.

This paper presents further evaluation of the Analogy Seeded Mind-Maps method, a new method to prompt generation of analogous solution principles drawn from multiple analogical domains. We randomly select a set of 10–15 words from a graph of grammatically analogical synonyms of a functional design requirement “seed” and populate the first-level nodes of a mind-map with the selected textual analogies. This mind-map then serves as a visual tool that is utilized during the concept generation process. The effectiveness of the tool in generating concepts has been evaluated in previous studies.

In the current study, we evaluate the effect of substituting pictures for the verbal analogies in the Analogy Seeded Mind-Maps method. The study involved student volunteers who were recruited from a senior-level design methodology course. The students were asked to complete a simple concept generation task (in teams) using either a purely verbal version of the Analogy Seeded Mind-Maps method or the alternative version that relied on pictorial analogies. The results were evaluated for quantity, quality and novelty of the concepts generated using the two methods. Analysis of the results shows that there is a statistically significant difference in the novelty of ideas generated by the two methods, with the pictorial version producing a larger number of novel ideas than the purely verbal version. While the differences in quantity and quality are not statistically significant at the P-Value < 0.05 level, there are differences that approach this level of statistical significance. Further studies are needed to determine if there is any benefit to a method that combines both verbal and pictorial analogies.

Copyright © 2016 by ASME



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