Campus Units

Industrial Design

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Version

Published Version

Publication Date


Journal or Book Title

2014 ASEE Annual Conference

Conference Title

121st ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Conference Date

June 15-18, 2014




Evidence-based Pedagogy in Engineering Education: Design Heuristics for Concept GenerationA recent National Academy of Engineering report stated, “To capitalize on opportunities created byscientific discoveries, the nation must have engineers who can invent new products and services, createnew industries and jobs, and generate new wealth” (Engineering Research and America’s Future: Meetingthe Challenges of a Global Economy, 2005). With increased international competition, economicuncertainty, and environmental resource limitations, there is a need for trained engineers who canexamine problems from different perspectives and produce innovative and practical solutions. Mostengineering students, however, find creative thinking to be much more difficult than technical thinking,and struggle to generate novel concepts. A contributing factor is the limitations in existing pedagogy tosupport idea generation within engineering.This paper describes research investigating the role of Design Heuristics, a concept generation tool usedduring the design ideation process to support engineers in generating multiple, diverse concepts. DesignHeuristics are strategies to help engineers consider possible designs that may not otherwise come to mind.The Design Heuristics tool resulted from empirical studies of real-world expert product designs, casestudies of expert design processes, and think-aloud protocols with designers as they generated concepts.The resulting set of 77 distinct Design Heuristics is provided as easy-to-use prompts to guide bothnovices and expert engineers in the generation of design concepts. Design Heuristics have beensuccessfully tested in engineering classrooms, and have been readily adopted by students to help themcreate more, more creative, and more diverse concepts. The research brings evidence, methods, andperspectives from multiple disciplines, including cognitive and social psychology, to bear on theengineering design domain.Our goal for supporting the translation of this research into practice is to further validate this method andto develop a targeted pedagogical program on Design Heuristics that will allow engineering educatorsacross the U.S. to incorporate this pedagogy within their existing courses. We aim to (1) raise awarenessof the importance of teaching engineering students to think creatively; (2) train instructors how to teachDesign Heuristics within existing engineering classes; (3) assess learning outcomes from this pedagogyfrom diverse instructors, courses and universities; and (4) incorporate the lessons learned to develop aneffective, easy-to-adopt curriculum for teaching engineering students how to generate creative concepts.


This is a proceedings from 2014 ASEE Annual Conference, June 15-18, 2014. Posted with permission.


© 2014 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference

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American Society for Engineering Education



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