Investigation of the Impacts of Cognitive Style and Teamwork on Ideation Effectiveness

Open Access
Helm, Kevin C
Graduate Program:
Mechanical Engineering
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
April 28, 2017
Committee Members:
  • Dr. Kathryn Jablokow, Thesis Advisor
  • Dr. Matthew Parkinson, Committee Member
  • Dr. Karen Thole, Committee Member
  • Engineering Design
  • Ideation
  • Cognitive Style
  • Brainstorming
  • Teamwork
  • Concept Generation
  • Creativity
  • Idea Assessment
Understanding the interplay of ideation, teamwork, and cognitive style in the engineering design process is important to making engineering students and practitioners more flexible designers. This master’s thesis investigates concept generation in engineering design with regard to teamwork and cognitive style. After reviewing previous research in teamwork and cognitive style, a study was conducted. In this work, 175 undergraduate engineering students were studied with regard to their performance and perceptions during concept generation with and without teamwork. Of those 175 participants, 95 participants were further studied with regard to their cognitive style. Of those 95 participants, 52 participants were studied with regard to cognitive gaps with their partners. During concept generation, participants completed two 20-minute sessions of brainstorming. The first session was completed individually, and the second session was completed in teams of two or three individuals. By comparing participants’ performance and perceptions, several observations were made with regard to how teamwork and cognitive style influence concept generation. Results gathered from perceptions indicate that individuals perceive teamwork to positively impact the creativity and diversity of their ideas and the easiness of brainstorming, whereas results gathered from evaluations of design ideas indicate that individuals in teams are more likely produce fewer ideas and produce ideas with lower quality. Considering these findings together, individuals appear to have a positive outlook on teamwork in brainstorming that is not fully justified by measurements of performance. Results also suggest that individuals with different cognitive style have similar perceptions and performance with regard to teamwork; however, teams with larger cognitive gaps are more likely to disagree on perceptions of brainstorming. To facilitate better teamwork for teams with differences in cognitive style, a tool for concept generation was developed and tested.