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  1. Engineering design involves intensive visual-spatial reasoning, and engineers depend upon external representation to develop concepts during idea generation. Previous research has not explored how our visual representation skills influence our idea generation effectiveness. A designer’s deficit in sketching skills could create a need for increased focus on the task of visual representation reducing cognitive resources available for the task at hand – generating concept. Further, this effect could be compounded if designers believed that their sketching skill would be evaluated or judged by their peers. This evaluation apprehension could cause additional mental workload distracting from the production of idea generation. The goal of this study is to investigate and better understand the relationship between designers’ sketching skills and idea generation abilities. In this paper, we present preliminary results of the relationship between independent measures of sketching skill and idea generation ability from an entry-level engineering design and graphics course. During data collection, task instructions were given in two ways to independent groups: one group was instructed upfront that sketching would be evaluated, while the second group was kept blind to the sketch evaluation. In this paper, we also examine the potential priming effects of sketch quality evaluation apprehension on idea generation productivity. The results show that sketching quality and idea quantity are largely independent, and that the priming effects of sketch evaluation instructions are small to negligible on idea generation productivity. 
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