The OU centre for STEM pedagogy
At the Open University in the UK, final year engineering undergraduates are required to suggest a topic for their project. As this was considered a creative process, the three-component model by Amabile was used as a theoretical framework supporting the conclusion that instructional material supporting the exploration of the idea space should be improved. To do this, an online ideation toolkit was developed to help with the generation and focusing of ideas for possible topics. This was trialled on a small number of students by introducing it through a workshop. Its usefulness was then studied using questionnaires and semi-structured interviews. The study showed that most students benefited from the workshop in its own right, others who took the time to work through the toolkit in their own time, found that the toolkit indeed helped them with ideation and focusing their idea. The students main concern was that they lacked guidance as to the project level. The findings suggest that the development of creative thinking skills in students, one of the three components in Amabile’s models, should be included in the engineering module studied here more explicitly.