Proceedings of ASEE 2008 • AC 2008-1195 In-Class Creativity Exercises for Engineering Students • Jonathan Weaver (University of Detriot Mercy) • Karim Muci-Küchler (South Dakota School of Mines and Technology)
Introduction • Need to “revitalize” engineering education • Ability to innovate is key to remaining competitive • Emphasis on entrepreneurship and product development • 3 exercises conducted to measure and study creativity of engineering students (sophomore to graduate level)
Spelling Exercise • Subject 1 is given un-marked wooden blocks and asked to spell 'lit' • Subject 2 is given alphabet blocks (with T removed) and asked to spell 'lit' • Subject 3 is given alphabet blocks (with T removed) and asked to spell other words such as dog and ear and then spell 'lit' • All subjects are timed
Spelling Exercise • Times for subject 1 were the fastest, and subject 3 was the slowest • Theorized that even though the alphabet blocks have more 'information' on them they lead the subject towards an invalid solution. • Spelling of other words first where it was possible without the T also locks the subject into a frame of thinking
Parts Handling Operation • A key-ring with several keys is placed on a stool • Subjects are asked to stay behind a marked line on the ground • Subject 1 is given a broom with a screw-off handle and asked to retrieve the keys (keys cannot touch the ground) • Subject 2 is given the broom and an assortment of random things (specified to be as useless as possible).
Parts Handling Operation • Subject 1 tends to focus more on the stool and keys • Subject 2 tends to focus on the assortment of junk • Theory is that even though subject 2 has more freedom, that freedom actually distracts him/her • Breadth first vs. depth first approach
Bisociation Exercise • Bisociation is another name for the Juxtaposition exercise • Group is given 3 minutes to brainstorm ideas for new earrings. Ideas are tallied for each individual student • A short presentation on bisociation follows. (Auction + web = Ebay, horse carriage + steam engine = locomotive, etc) • Given another 3 minutes to come up with ideas for earrings + north pole
Bisociation Exercise • Number of ideas generated in each session did not differ substantially • Almost all ideas from the second session were new ideas (ie the student did not recycle it from the first session)
Outside thoughts • Analogies can be drawn to current engineering education where students are taught engineering science and theory and come to expect solutions to lie in certain directions • A wider knowledge base helps in the Bisociation exercise • Authors predict getting similar results if the study were to be done with freshmen or k-12, but I don't know...
Outside Thoughts • Exercises very reminiscent of MESA challenges • IDC On site design • Walk on water (guy on skies) • Applies to more than just engineering students however engineers are on traditionally very rigid tracks.