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Creativity is acknowledged to be important for economic growth and as an everyday life-skill, however several influential reports have suggested that education could do more to harness creative talent. Creative cognition literature suggests the lack of creativity is at least partly the result of ‘fixation’ (difficulty in generating novel ideas due to imagination being ‘structured’ by existing knowledge). This paper focuses on the secondary (students aged 11–16 years) design and technology (D&T) context in the UK. Here we examine whether teacher practice can contribute to fixation by focusing on one specific facet of teacher practice in D&T; the use of product analysis to inform the generation of creative design ideas. Data is drawn from the preliminary phase of a research and intervention project from interviews with D&T teachers (N = 14), students (N = 126) and lesson observations (N = 10) and an analysis of documents and student work. Product analysis is widely used at different points in design projects but, as is shown, in all cases current practice can lead to fixation, as thinking is constrained down specific paths and tasks are at best at procedural rather than comprehension level. The implications of these findings and tentative ways forward for practitioners are discussed.
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- “If I was going to design a chair, the last thing I would look at is a chair”: product analysis and the causes of fixation in students’ design work 11–16 years
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International Journal of Technology and Design Education
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