The effects of functional decomposition (FD) intervention on student inventiveness

Hamzah, Norkhairolizah (2021) The effects of functional decomposition (FD) intervention on student inventiveness. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

[img] PDF - Published Version
Download (5MB)


The purpose of the current investigation is to find evidence on how FD as a design method affects problem solving in inventive design tasks in three separate studies (Experiment 1, Experiment 2, and Case Study). The purposive sampling technique was used to sample only 30 post-graduate students of similar background engineering knowledge with experience in designing who were then grouped under three separate design methods, which were: “FDI”, “CPS” (Creative Problem Solving) and “FDII” (10 each), while conducting inventive problem solving tasks. This is done with the provision that implementing those methods may affect the subsequent knowledge recall and thus, the resultant problem representations. The experiments were only conducted on a specific group of participants, so the results only apply to this limited pool. The scale of the experiment was limited to testing the skill of decomposing complex problems based on functionality during the preliminary design stage only. Therefore, the findings are not generalizable to actual design processes in the field. Further investigations need to be conducted to prove the applicability of FD in actual design problem solving which takes a longer time (even months) to complete.

The findings show that there is a significant effect of FD intervention on participants’ cognitive ‘processes’, specifically on the kinds of design aspects they used during problem solving. The transition analyses revealed that the training significantly changed the way problems are represented by the participants in the current studies. Transition analysis is different from quantifying the design aspects (i.e.: the function, behaviour, structure, people, purpose, and resource aspects). It is found that the Function-to-Function transitions in the FDI group has significantly increased after the intervention, in parallel with the significant increase in the quantity of utterance of function aspects. However, the Function-to-Function transitions in the FDII group showed no significant difference after the FDII intervention, even though the function aspect has increased significantly.

This means that, even though there is a significantly low utterance of function statements during the pre-intervention phase, the function aspect has been closely followed by other function aspects among the FDII participants. Therefore, it causes no difference to the function-to-function transitions after the intervention. This shows that the transition analysis measures a different aspect of the participants’ representations. Furthermore, the findings on the ‘product’ inventiveness have shown no clear trend across all groups and all phases.

Finally, the qualitative Case Study indicated that the processes of ‘control’ (functional knowledge) and ‘goal’ definition (the decomposition operators) across the selected participants had changed after the FDI and FDII interventions only, unlike the CPS. Even though participants started at around the same rate of recall of information based on the conceptual maps depicted, this pattern has changed due to the method they used, showing an effect of the FD intervention. The Case Study explored the nature of the conceptual change following the intervention, in terms of the qualitative aspects of function including the concept formation in each problem solver (based on the protocols and retrospective debriefing reports) and the use of different kinds of function-based operators that were used.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Engineering and Informatics > Informatics
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1050.9 Educational psychology > LB1060 Learning
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher education
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA0276 Mathematical statistics
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 17 Sep 2021 13:28
Last Modified: 17 Sep 2021 13:28

View download statistics for this item

📧 Request an update