Perspectives on Solution Diversity and Divergent Thinking in K–12 Engineering Design Learning Experiences

Consider multiple approaches to valuing, supporting, and studying the diversity of students’ solutions to design problems through poster presentations and small-group discussion.


“Solution diversity” has been proposed as one key characteristic that distinguishes engineering design from other disciplinary pursuits. Engineering designers recognize that for any design problem, there will be multiple acceptable solutions, and informed designers have been found to strive for “idea fluency” through divergent thinking techniques that assist them in exploring the design space (Crismond & Adams, 2012). In a K-12 classroom, when students in one classroom employ not only a range of problem-solving approaches, but also generate a diverse set of task outcomes, teachers may find new challenges and opportunities for learning and assessment.

This session aims to shed light on the following questions: In what ways do researchers, teacher collaborators, or students value a diverse set of solutions to design problems, and how do these values influence assessment, teacher professional development, and the design of instructional strategies and scaffolds?

To begin, researchers from six DR K-12 projects will offer brief poster presentations that represent their their initial answers. Participants will then join small- and large-group discussions around these questions. Finally, the session discussant (Christian Schunn) will share his reflections on the conversations and facilitate a final Q&A session.

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