Tendencies toward Problem-Setting and Problem-Solving

T14 b

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User-centered approaches are a key concern for firms’ innovation practices, while higher engineering education typically focuses on the technical problem-solving activities. Recently, engineering education has incorporated team assignments for students where they are encouraged to manage open-ended problems. Yet, many students’ conduct appears to be “business as usual” and they do not make an attempt to shift their views. Reasons for this behavior need to be investigated to inform the engineering curricula. The purpose in this paper is to demonstrate the impact of distinct orientations on an open-ended design challenge in order to highlight differences, which have implications for learning and education. This study applies familiar educational psychology concepts to the unfamiliar setting of design education, focusing on user needs and acknowledging students’ orientations as a possible basis for guiding and accommodating design operations. Engineering design students were divided into two groups based on their individual orientation—namely the mastery and performance oriented types. The homogeneous groups reinforced the individual strategies and the effects on their operations could be observed. The distinct orientations had an impact on the open-ended design challenge. Results indicate considerations for conflicts between solving and setting, which might affect the involvement of users and their needs as resources in early product development. This study addresses how individual orientations in homogeneous groups have an effect on user-centered design in open-ended design tasks. Highlighting differences contributes to understanding challenges in innovation activities. The study indicates that students need different guidance and coaching to match their orientations.