Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2013

Publication Title

Advances in Engineering Education





First Page


Last Page



D esign fixation has been found to be complex in its definition and expression, but it plays an important role in design idea generation. Identifying the factors that influence fixation is crucial in understanding how to enhance the design process and reduce the negative effects of fixation. One way to potentially mitigate fixation is through product dissection activities since this activity has been shown to increase creativity and design space exploration in engineering design. However, product dissection has not been studied in the context of design fixation, so it is unclear if, or how, this type of activity influences fixation. Additionally, although prior work studied product dissection in a team environment, it did not examine how individual factors such as personality attributes influence one’s involvement or exposure to the activity. Therefore, this study explores the role of product dissection and personality traits on design fixation in an engineering design classroom setting. Our results show that product dissection can reduce fixation effects when students are actively engaged in the activity. However, individual personality attributes can influence one's engagement in a team-based dissection activity and thus, can serve to reduce the positive impact of product dissection. These findings demonstrate a relationship between personality and active engagement in product dissection activities, and also indicate product dissection as a way to mitigate fixation effects in engineering design education. The results from this study can be used to enhance our understanding of the design process, and help reduce fixation effects in the engineering classroom.