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The Characteristics of Engineering Innovativeness: A Cognitive Mapping and Review of Instruments

J. Menold, K. Jablokow, D. Ferguson, S. Purzer, and M. Ohland
2016, International Journal of Engineering Education

Understanding, evaluating, and promoting individual innovativeness is a critical step in cultivating engineering leaders for the future, and yet the study of engineering innovativeness as a domain-specific construct is relatively new. We examined 20 characteristics of engineering innovativeness identified in previous research and 27 related measures from the literature through two lenses:(1) their relationship to key elements of cognitive function (ie, cognitive level, cognitive style, and cognitive affect) and (2) the categorization of their underlying constructs as innate or learned. The aim of this mapping exercise was to determine whether the 20 characteristics could be assessed using existing instruments, or whether the development of a new instrument was required. In total, 81 constructs were evaluated from the 27 instruments. From this critical review, it is clear that a single, comprehensive, and rigorously validated instrument does not yet exist to assess the full range of knowledge, skills, and attributes that are indicative of engineering innovativeness. This work highlights the potential for such an instrument to help transform engineering education by providing students and instructors with new insights into the formation and nurturing of engineering innovativeness.