Comparing the Effects of Design Interventions on the Quality of Design Concepts as a Reflection of Ideation Flexibility

Daniel Henderson, Kathryn Jablokow, Shanna Daly, Seda McKilligan, Eli Silk, Jennifer Bracken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Many tools, techniques, and other interventions have been developed to support idea generation within the design process. In previous research, we explored the separate effects of three such design interventions: teaming, problem framing, and design heuristics. In the teaming intervention, participants discussed a design prompt together but recorded their own ideas separately. In problem framing, multiple versions (framings) of each design prompt were used to elicit different solutions. In design heuristics, participants used specially designed cards to prompt new ways of thinking about the given design problem. In the current work, we compared the effects of these three interventions on students' design ideas with respect to one idea attribute in particular-quality. In total, 1088 design concepts were collected from 171 undergraduate students in engineering and industrial design from two universities. Individual cognitive style was also assessed using Kirton's Adaption-Innovation inventory (KAI). Six metrics taken from the design literature were used to assess the quality of each concept, namely: acceptability, applicability, clarity, effectiveness, implementability, and implicational explicitness. Paired t-tests and Pearson correlations were used to assess differences in quality between concepts generated with and without the three interventions; in addition, secondary effects were sought based on the cognitive styles and academic standings of the participants. Statistically significant differences were observed in design concept quality for the teaming and design heuristics interventions over the full sample and for some subgroups separated by cognitive style and academic standing. These results have implications for how educators teach design interventions and how students choose and apply interventions to affect the quality of their own design solutions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number031103
JournalJournal of Mechanical Design
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


Dive into the research topics of 'Comparing the Effects of Design Interventions on the Quality of Design Concepts as a Reflection of Ideation Flexibility'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this