We report four cases from a larger study, focusing on participants’ self-identified “most creative” concept in relation to their other concepts. As part of an ideation session, first-year engineering students were asked to create concepts for one of two engineering design problems in an 85-minute period, and were exposed to one of two different forms of fixation. Participants worked as individuals, first using traditional brainstorming techniques and generating as many ideas as possible. Design Heuristics cards were then introduced, and students were asked to generate as many additional concepts as possible. After the activity, participants ranked all of the concepts they generated from most to least creative. Representative cases include a detailed analysis of the concept that each participant rated as “most creative,” idea generation method used, and relative location and relationship of the concept to other concepts generated by that participant. Across four cases, we identified a number of characteristic “misrules” or misconceptions, revealing that first-year students judge creativity in their concepts in ways that could inhibit their ability to produce truly novel concepts. We present Design Heuristics as a tool to encourage the exploration of creative concept pathways, empowering students to create more novel concepts by rejecting misrules about creativity.

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