Product dissection is a popular educational tool in engineering design due to its ability to help students understand the components and sub-components of a product, provide inspiration for new design ideas, and aid in product redesign. While prior research has investigated how dissecting a product before idea generation impacts the creative output of the ideation session, these studies failed to look at the types of ideas generated before dissection or how the type of product dissected impacts this. In addition, few studies have looked at how creative self-efficacy (CSE), or one’s belief in their creative ability, is influenced by these intervention activities. Thus, the current study was developed to respond to these research voids through an exploratory study with engineering design students. The results of the study suggest that virtual dissection helps students generate a larger variety of ideas after the activity at the physical principle, working principle, and embodiment levels, and that the complexity of the dissected product impacts variation at the embodiment level. In addition, CSE was not affected by the dissection activity. These results strongly support the utilization and implementation of dissection practices in engineering education as a means for aiding students in the expansion of the solution space in the early stages of design. They also bring attention to the need to explore the exact cause-effect relationship between innovation interventions and student confidence gains in their creative abilities.

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