The NAF Technique

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Engineering Areas
Assessment & evaluation, Ideation & Conceptual design
Group or individual
Group, Individual
Amount of people
Up to 15, 15-25, 25+
Type of activity
Collaborative team setting, On-line Classroom activity, Self-work by students
Duration
Half an hour or less
Type of class
Undetermined

Description

What is this technique about

NAF Technique is an idea selection method that aims to determine the Newest, Appealing and Feasible from a group of ideas. To apply this technique in the lessons, each idea is given a score in a certain number range within the scope of novelty, attractiveness, and feasibility criteria. Novelty is related to how original and new the idea is. Attractiveness assesses the extent to which the solution solves the problem. Feasibility, on the other hand, rates how relevant an idea is to reality and whether it will work in practice. These three areas are scored separately, and the ideas are ranked according to the total score. The purpose of this method is basically to score ideas and decide whether it is more appropriate to pursue or implement them. In addition, NAF allows you to see alternatives to increase the chances of success when developing or implementing an idea. NAF criteria may also be replaced or supplemented by other evaluation criteria.

Where does it come from 

NAF technique solutions are analyzed for novelty, attractiveness, and functionality. This technique was created with the aim of evaluating Ideas based on spontaneous emotions. For this reason, it depends on the instincts and judgments of the participants. This method serves to measure the usefulness of the creative thinking put forward.

For which purposes it is used (why in your engineering teaching)

To select ideas, rank and grades are given for each attribute on a scale of 1-10 based on opinion and evidence. To rank ideas, consider the following question: Innovation – How new is the idea? If this isn’t new to the situation, it probably isn’t very creative appeal – how attractive is this as a solution? Does it completely solve the problem? Or is it just a partial solution? Functionality – How possible is it to put this into practice? Using a time machine might be an attractive solution, but is it really viable?

After the voting process is complete, the following comments and questions will be considered and discussed: An idea is of no practical use because it is obsolete, unattractive, and impractical; however, the fact that an idea is new and attractive but has low applicability shows whether this idea can be strengthened by creative approaches and whether this idea can be a product output. Often, an idea that gets more than 5 pointsis worth developing.

IdeaNoveltyAttractivenessFeasibilityScore
Trembling54211
Hiding55414
Off-track34411
Furtive movements55414
User Input1258
     

The table above is an advanced application of the NAF technique in engineering education, a pairwise comparison chart (PCC). Such charts are used to evaluate the design concepts of new products against each other by ranking them against specific objectives. They help to understand the relative importance of items. An exemplary PCC can look like that:

Table from Dym, Little and Orwin (2013, p. 63)
GoalsCostPortabilityConvenienceDurabilityScore
Cost….0011
Portability1….113
Convenience10….12
Durability000….0

In a PCC, 0 is added when an attribute in a column is tendered to an attribute in a row, and 1 is added when an attribute in a row is preferred to an attribute in a column. Then the sum of the items is calculated.

How to use it

Preparation:

    • Prepare voting templates and make the templates available to the participants.
    • Nominate a volunteer or take on the role yourself to facilitate the implementation process.
    • If the technique is to be used online, it is necessary to find a technological method of scoring ideas so that all participants can see it.

Application:

Create a table for novelty, attractiveness, and viability before the ideas arrive, and rate the ideas within these groups from 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest). Allow participants to read their ideas aloud, as it is very important that all participants share their ideas. Collect the data from all participants. Analyze the data to see how much variance you have in each parameter, especially in applicability. Finally, have participants discuss emerging ideas.

How to implement this techniques online

Preparation, what do before the session

    1. Share the application link you chose for the online session with the participants.
    2. Decide whether your participants will work on an online whiteboard or a spreadsheet and prepare them.
    3. (if you chose a whiteboard, tools such as Miro or Kahoot are quite effective)
    4. Grouping participants to work on the whiteboard will allow you to have an interactive session and save time. If you want participants to work in groups, prepare group assignments before the session (e.g., make a list that shows who Is part of what group).

During application, i.e., while giving the session

    1. Start the session with explaining the purpose and the exercise to the participant
    2. Introduce the idea(s) to score to the participants (or let them introduce them)
    3. Guide the participants to the online space where you want them to evaluate the ideas
    4. As the facilitator, you will need an online notebook to score the ideas from each participant. For this, you can choose the Evernote application, which is very easy to use
    5. Ask participants to give ideas a score for NAF: Novelty, Attractiveness, and Feasibility. Manage time. It should not take them longer than 7 minutes. Make sure to find the final total score for each idea

Follow-up, about what to do after the session

    1. Such a ranking of NAF is useful for making an informed decision on whether an idea is useful or if it needs improvement or revision. Give sufficient time to your students to share their ideas with the rest of the class.

Tools needed

A whiteboard tool- such as:

    • Miro and Kahoot

To apply this technique in an online setting, the following tools are required:

    • An assessment tool- such as Roobrix and Rubistar
    • An online video conference tool- such as Zoom and Teams
    • A text document- such as Microsoft Word and Evernote

Resources

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