The effects of representation on idea generation and design fixation: A study comparing sketches and function trees

  • Atilola O
  • Tomko M
  • Linsey J
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Representations in engineering design can be hand sketches, photographs, CAD, functional models, physical models, or text. Using representations allows engineers to gain a clearer picture of how a design works. We present an experiment that compares the influence of representations on fixation and creativity. This experiment presents designers with an example solution represented as a function tree and a sketch, we compare how these different external representations influence design fixation as they complete a design task. Results show that function trees do not cause fixation to ideas compared to a control group, and that function trees reduce fixation when compared to sketches. Results from this experiment show that function tree representations offer advantages for reducing fixation during idea generation.

Author-supplied keywords

  • conceptual design
  • creativity
  • design activity
  • design fixation
  • engineering design

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  • Olufunmilola Atilola

  • Megan Tomko

  • Julie S. Linsey

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