Improving Creative Output: Tools, Metrics, and Interventions

Open Access
Helm, Kevin Charles
Area of Honors:
Mechanical Engineering
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Kathryn Weed Jablokow, Thesis Supervisor
  • Zoubeida Ounaies, Honors Advisor
  • creativity
  • metrics
  • concept generation
  • teaming
  • design evaluation
Understanding the many factors that affect concept generation has great significance in engineering design. This thesis paper investigates several factors that affect concept generation. Because creative output can vary by circumstance and individual, this work considers multiple aspects of ideation research, including the development of research tools, the improvement of metrics, and the study of interventions. Specific interventions examined in this research include problem context, teaming, design tools, and problem framing. The impacts of these interventions with regard to concept generation were studied using metrics such as quality, quantity, and variety. Considered aspects of quality were the relevance, specificity, and workability of ideas. To conduct these studies, an effective computer-based method was constructed to measure variety, and an existing metric for measuring effectiveness was compared to an alternative metric for interdependence with the other metrics. Undergraduate engineering students then participated in two sessions of concept generation. By evaluating their responses using the metrics and then comparing their creative output from a control session to a session with intervention, this research yielded several results regarding the interventions and their relation to creative output. The results indicate that problem context, teaming, and problem framing are associated with changes in certain aspects of quality and that teaming is associated with a difference in quantity of ideas.