Towards a Comprehensive Test of Problem Formulation Skill in Design

Year: 2015
Editor: Amaresh Chakrabarti, Toshiharu Taura and Yukari Nagai
Author: Dinar, M.; Shah, J. J.; Todeti, S. R.
Institution: 1Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Arizona State University, Tempe, USA and 2 Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India
Section: Design Creativity Assessment and Capturing
Page(s): 019-026
ISBN: 978-1-904670-60-5


A battery of tests for assessing a number of cognitive skills relevant to conceptual design is being developed. Tests on divergent thinking (DT), visual thinking (VT), and qualitative reasoning (QR) are fully developed and validated. This paper focuses on the development of a test on the problem formulation (PF) skill. Indicators of problem formulation are identified and categorized as: insight, setting priorities, expanding, bounding, and structuring the design space. Unlike the previous tests which were developed and taken solely on pen and paper, this test can be developed with Problem Maps—data that is collected with the web-based Problem Formulator tool. A set of metrics for measuring skill levels are proposed with respect to which a class of graduate students have been graded. Candidate test items are discussed based on a number of design tasks which have been given to the students.

Keywords: design skill tests, problem formulation, problem map


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