Authors: Maria Vittoria Elena; Apurva Patel; Joshua D. Summers
Addresses: Department of Mechanical Engineering, Clemson University, Clemson, SC, 29634-0921, USA ' Department of Mechanical Engineering, Clemson University, Clemson, SC, 29634-0921, USA ' Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Texas-Dallas, Richardson, TX, 29634-0921, USA
Abstract: Experiments that study engineering design rely on participants responding to design prompts (problem statements). Moreover, researchers test multiple variables with small participant pools. In such situations multiple design prompts may be used to boost replication by giving each participant an equivalent problem with a different experimental condition. This paper presents a systematic approach to compare given design prompts using a two-step process that allows an initial comparison of the prompts and a post-experiment verification of the similarity of the given prompts. Comparison metrics are provided which can be used to evaluate a level of similarity of existing prompts as well as develop similar problems. These metrics include complexity (size, coupling, and solvability), familiarity, and prompt structure. Statistical methods are discussed for post-experiment verification. Guidelines are provided for a post-experiment survey. The proposed approach is demonstrated through an experiment where two design prompts were used for within-subject replication.
Keywords: engineering design; design research; experimental studies; protocol studies; design problems; design prompt; empirical studies; empirical research; empirical design research; research validation.
Journal of Design Research, 2020 Vol.18 No.5/6, pp.327 - 355
Accepted: 15 Nov 2020
Published online: 02 Nov 2021 *