The flow of creative ideas throughout the engineering design process is essential for innovation. However, few studies have examined how individual traits affect problem-solving behaviors in an engineering design setting. Understanding these behaviors will enable us to guide individuals during the idea generation and concept screening phases of the engineering design process and help support the flow of creative ideas through this process. As a first step towards understanding these behaviors, we conducted an exploratory study with 19 undergraduate engineering students to examine the impact of individual traits, using the Preferences for Creativity Scale (PCS) and Kirton’s Adaption-Innovation inventory (KAI), on the creativity of the ideas generated and selected for an engineering design task. The ideas were rated for their creativity, quality, and originality using Amabile’s consensual assessment technique. Our results show that the PCS was able to predict students’ propensity for creative concept screening, accounting for 74% of the variation in the model. Specifically, team centrality and influence and risk tolerance significantly contributed to the model. However, PCS was unable to predict idea generation abilities. On the other hand, cognitive style, as measured by KAI, predicted the generation of creative and original ideas, as well as one’s propensity for quality concept screening, although the effect sizes were small. Our results provide insights into individual factors impacting undergraduate engineering students’ idea generation and selection.

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