Title

Designing with examples: a study on the role of familiarity, warnings and physical modelling

Publication Date

1-1-2020

Document Type

Article

Department

Mechanical Engineering

Publication Title

Journal of Engineering Design

Volume

31

Issue

11-12

DOI

10.1080/09544828.2020.1851356

First Page

552

Last Page

573

Abstract

Design fixation refers to the unintentional repetition of design features from one's own earlier concepts or other available examples during design ideation. Since a wide range of ideas is expected at the ideation stage, design fixation is considered as a hindrance. Extending the prior work on design fixation and ideation, this paper explores the influence of three different factors on design fixation: (1) familiarity with the example features, (2) presence of simple warnings, and (3) a simple build-and-test activity. Engineering students, distributed across four experimental conditions, participated in a three-week-long design project. Their target was to design, build, and successfully demonstrate a LEGO vehicle for performing a few simple stunts. Photographs of their initial and final designs were used as the data for analysis. The results showed that the familiarity with example features increases fixation to those features. Warnings were not successful in mitigating the fixation on familiar features, but warnings were effective for relatively unfamiliar ones. Further, the build-and-test activity allowed the students to understand the disadvantages of their designs caused by design fixation and to mitigate it to a significant extent. This activity also allowed them to learn from their mistakes and create more effective final designs.

Funding Number

CMMI-1000954

Funding Sponsor

National Science Foundation

Keywords

Design fixation, design ideation, physical models, warnings

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