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CURIOSITY: What do we mean?
Updated: 8/25/2021 9:28 AM by Michael Johnson
Suppose you concretely quantified a student's degree of CURIOSITY. How might their learning, their engineering solutions, their career (and life) change if their curiosity were, say, doubled? Certainly, there would be upsides and downsides. Thinking might be less linear, less patterned, perhaps even controversial. But controlled, directed, and productive curiosity is at the root of discovery. The good news is that research shows that CURIOSITY can be increased. Curiosity is invaluable for uncovering essential and unexpected information that shapes engineering solutions to their maximum potential. Indeed, that's the aspirational goal of partner institutions in KEEN.

This card is about understanding CURIOSITY in depth and within an entrepreneurial mindset. The KEEN Framework provides a starting point for two student outcomes related to curiosity. Students should:

  1. Demonstrate constant curiosity about the changing world around us.

  2. Explore a contrarian view of accepted solutions.

Turning the CURIOSITY outcomes into questions is also helpful. Students achieving these outcomes will ask:

    • "What changes affect our future?"

    • "How can we __________ differently? better?"

These are likely elements of an entrepreneurial mindset but they are not intended to be a complete description of curiosity. Rather, within KEEN, these form a "starter set" for curiosity-related outcomes.

To reach these outcomes, design exercises so that students:
    • Investigate trends,
    • Generate their own questions,
    • Challenge assumptions,
    • Investigate areas of their own choosing,
    • Assume the role of a “futurist,” supporting predictions,
    • Act on their curiosity,
    • Consider multiple points of view,
    • Create a positive atmosphere of constructive criticism,
    • Offer considered, pertinent feedback to peers and authorities,
    • Examine data that supports unpopular solutions.

If curiosity is going to become part of a mindset, part of a disposition, then the goal of educational interventions is to exercise situational curiosity to increase a student’s dispositional curiosity.

To dive deeper, research literature describes characteristics of curiosity itself, including:

Epistemic vs. Diversive Curiosity
Epistemic curiosity investigates underlying reasons, asking "Why?" while diverse curiosity considers possibilities, asking "What if?". For example, see Berlyne or Litman, et. al. in the research folder.

Situational vs. Dispositional Curiosity
Situational curiosity is generated from surrounding circumstances while dispositional curiosity describes an attitudinal propensity to be curious. For example, see Kashdan and Roberts in the research folder.

Reductive vs. Inductive Curiosity
Reductive curiosity is motivated by "wanting" while inductive curiosity is characterized by "liking" new information. For example, see Litman below.

See the folders below for the following:

  • An expanded description of the curiosity-related outcomes
  • Research references and perspectives on curiosity
  • One short example of "curiosity" in curriculum
  • A collection of websites and cards that you can use to promote "curiosity" connected to your educational goals
  • Tools for Curiosity

  • Demonstrate constant curiosity about our changing world
  • Explore a contrarian view of accepted solution
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Arts & Sciences
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Computer Science
  • Engineering Science/Physics
  • Health Sciences & Medical
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Nuclear Engineering
  • Technical Communications
  • Agricultural Engineering
  • Architectural Engineering
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Business, Economics, & Law
  • Chemistry
  • Civil Engineering
  • Electrical & Computer Engineering
  • Engineering Management
  • Environmental Engineering
  • General Engineering
  • Industrial & Manufacturing Engineering
  • Mathematics
  • Metallurgical & Materials Engineering
  • Mining Engineering
  • Petroleum Engineering
  • Physics
  • Engineering Education
Title Type Ext Date Size
A Focus on Curiosity with Tools! Presentation .pdf 1/12/2018 26.3 MB
Examples of the 3Cs.pdf Other .pdf 1/12/2018 363.2 KB
BOOK: Curious by Ian Leslie Other 1/12/2018 -
Curiosity Workshop - Univ of St. Thomas Activity / Handout .pdf 1/12/2018 448.8 KB
WEBSITE: Curiosity.com Other 1/12/2018 -
AACU VALUE Rubrics, See CURIOSITY within Assessment / Rubric .pdf 8/15/2018 88 KB
Curiosity icon Photo / Graphic .png 8/17/2021 15.4 KB
Title Type Ext Date Size
Loewenstein, Psychology of Curiosity Other .pdf 12/22/2017 3 MB
Kashdan and Roberts, Trait and State Other .pdf 12/22/2017 252.7 KB
Litman, Information Wanting & Liking Other .pdf 12/22/2017 142.4 KB
Berlyne, Theory of Curiosity, 1954 Other .pdf 1/12/2018 1.1 MB
Litman, et. al., Diversive vs. Epistemic Other .pdf 1/12/2018 92.5 KB
Arnone, Small - Arousing Curio (w/Curve) Other .pdf 1/12/2018 1.1 MB
Kim, et. al., Curiosity and Motivation Other .pdf 1/12/2018 147.7 KB
Curiosity and Motivation to Learn Borowske05.pdf Other .pdf 1/12/2018 130 KB
Curiosity, Information Gaps, and the Utility of Knowledge Golman_Loewenstein April 2015.pdf Other .pdf 1/12/2018 279.6 KB
LeBlanc_Nepal_Mowry_StimulatingCuriosityUsingQFT_FIE2017.pdf Other .pdf 1/12/2018 746.9 KB
Curiosity_and_Exploration_Facilitating_P.pdf Other .pdf 1/12/2018 170.5 KB
The reliability of the CEI - studia_2007.pdf Other .pdf 1/12/2018 235.1 KB