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Design Team Convergence: The Influence of Example Solution Quality
This study examines how engineering design teams converge upon a solution to a design problem and how their solution is influenced by information given to them prior to problem solving. Specifically, the study considers the influence of the type of information received prior to problem solving on team convergence over time, as well as on the quality of produced solutions. To understand convergence, a model of the team members’ solution approach was developed through a cognitive engineering design study, specifically examining the effect of the introduction of a poor example solution or a good example solution prior to problem solving on the quality of the produced solutions. Latent semantic analysis was used to track the teams’ convergence, and the quality of design solutions was systematically assessed using pre-established criteria and multiple evaluators. Introducing a poor example solution was shown to decrease teams’ convergence over time, as well as the quality of their design solution; introducing a good example solution did not produce a statistically significant different effect on convergence compared with the control (with no prior example solution provided) but did lead to higher quality solutions.