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Measuring Systems Engineering and Design Thinking Attitudes

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 July 2019


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Systems engineering and design thinking have been widely seen as distinctly different processes, systems engineering being more data-driven and analytical, and design thinking being more human- centred and creative. We use the term ‘design thinking’ to encompass the plurality of human-centered design processes that seek to unpack the core values behind design decisions. With the increased awareness that both systems engineering and design thinking need each other, the effects of a possibly persisting distinction on engineers’ attitudes toward these two processes are not well understood. In this paper, we describe the development and validation of a scale for measuring individual attitudes about systems engineering and design thinking. Thematic analysis of engineering and design literature is used to derive a Likert scale reflecting these attitudes. We use exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis to test and confirm this two-factor thematic representation, resulting in a 9-item Systems Engineering and Design Thinking Scale measure of attitudes.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives licence (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is unaltered and is properly cited. The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use or in order to create a derivative work.
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