Tendencies toward Problem-Setting and Problem-Solving: A Study of Operations Derived from Motivation Strategies

By Charles Cox, Johan Wenngren, Johan Holmqvist and Åsa Ericson.

Published by Journal of Technologies in Education

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

User-centered approaches are a key concern for firms’ innovation practices, while higher engineering education typically focuses on the technical problem-solving activities. Recently, engineering education has incorporated team assignments for students where they are encouraged to manage open-ended problems. Yet, many students’ conduct appears to be “business as usual” and they do not make an attempt to shift their views. Reasons for this behavior need to be investigated to inform the engineering curricula. The purpose in this paper is to demonstrate the impact of distinct orientations on an open-ended design challenge in order to highlight differences, which have implications for learning and education. This study applies familiar educational psychology concepts to the unfamiliar setting of design education, focusing on user needs and acknowledging students’ orientations as a possible basis for guiding and accommodating design operations. Engineering design students were divided into two groups based on their individual orientation—namely the mastery and performance oriented types. The homogeneous groups reinforced the individual strategies and the effects on their operations could be observed. The distinct orientations had an impact on the open-ended design challenge. Results indicate considerations for conflicts between solving and setting, which might affect the involvement of users and their needs as resources in early product development. This study addresses how individual orientations in homogeneous groups have an effect on user-centered design in open-ended design tasks. Highlighting differences contributes to understanding challenges in innovation activities. The study indicates that students need different guidance and coaching to match their orientations.

Keywords: Mastery Orientation, Performance Orientation, Team-Based Design, Innovation

Journal of Technologies in Education, Volume 10, Issue 2, January 2015, pp.1-14. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 332.940KB).

Charles Cox

Instructor, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA

Charles Cox is an instructor at the Pennsylvania State University where he researches how people teach and learn design, and also teaches at the University of Pittsburgh Learning Research and Development Center where he works on how high school biology can be used as a vehicle for mathematics. His educational background includes engineering design at MIT, architectural design at the University of Houston, and instructional design at the Pennsylvania State University.

Johan Wenngren

PhD Student, Product Innovation, Division of Innovation and Design, Luleå University of Technology, Luleå, Sweden

Johan Wenngren is a PhD student researching product innovation. His research focuses on how design teams innovate in early phases of technical product and service development. He has an M.Sc. from Luleå University of Technology in mechanical engineering and product development.

Johan Holmqvist

PhD Student, Product Innovation, Division of Innovation and Design, Luleå University of Technology, Luleå, Sweden

Johan Holmqvist is a PhD student in product innovation. His research focuses on knowledge transfer within design teams in early phases of technical product development. He has an M.Sc. from Luleå University of Technology in mechanical engineering and product development.

Dr. Åsa Ericson

Associate Professor, Product Innovation, Division of Innovation and Design, Luleå University of Technology, Luleå, Sweden

Åsa Ericson is an associate professor at the Division of Innovation and Design, Luleå University of Technology, Sweden. She is also the head of research in product innovation, which focuses on product service systems research in manufacturing firms. She has a background in social informatics and her interests are user involvement and radical innovation work. She is teaching creative methods, participatory design, and user-driven development processes.