In the past ten years, numerous papers have presented techniques for fostering creativity in design courses and in individual engineering students. Assessing creativity in engineering design has been studied less widely. Creativity is desirable because the ability to combine and synthesize ideas, take risks, and innovate is necessary to develop entrepreneurial skills and mindset. However, capstone design students typically earn grades by developing complete, justified solutions, communicating their design process clearly, and satisfying the needs of sponsors and external or internal evaluators. This study examines the relationship between measures of creativity and course outcomes for a mechanical engineering capstone design course. Much of the existing creativity assessment literature focuses on consumer product design. Because of this, the decision was made to focus on projects that were intended as or could be potentially developed as commercial products. Multiple reviewers using the validated VALUE rubric for creative thinking evaluated eighteen projects. Scores on individual rubric items as well as the total rubric score were compared to course outcomes including prototype grade and communication grade, as well as project group characteristics. Analysis was performed using Pearson’s Product Moment correlation. In addition, alumni jury evaluations of the projects were also examined to see if projects with high creative thinking scores were also perceived as successful by outside observers. The VALUE rubric assesses works on acquiring competencies, taking risks, solving problems, embracing contradictions, innovative thinking, and connecting, synthesizing and transforming ideas. Of these items, the ability to connect, synthesize, and transform ideas was most highly correlated with the total creative thinking score (P
Dr. Smyser is a Teaching Professor and the Lab Director of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at Northeastern University. Her research focuses on lab and design pedagogy.
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