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Morphological Synthesis

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  • 1. MORPHOLOGICAL SYNTHESIS (Morphological Analysis)
  • 2. MORPHOLOGICAL ANALYSIS
    • A technique developed by Fritz Zwicky (1966, 1969) for exploring all the possible solutions to a multi-dimensional, non-quantified problem complex designed for multi-dimensional, non-quantifiable problems where causal modeling and simulation do not function well or at all.
  • 3. FRITZ ZWICKY
    • Swiss Astrophysicist
    • Helped to invent Schmidt Telescope
    • Helped to discover neutron stars
    • Virial theorem of unseen matter: today known as “dark matter”
    • Supernovae as yardstick for deep space measurements
  • 4. MORPHOLOGICAL ANALYSIS STEPS:
    • Step 1. Brainstorm Problem dimensions: (DECOMPOSE)
    • Determine suitable problem characteristics. The individual problem solver or a facilitated group brainstorms to define problem characteristics, also referred to as parameters.
  • 5. STEP 2: SORT PARAMETERS
    • Make all the suggestions visible to everyone and group them in various ways until consensus is reached regarding the groupings. Typically, the group chooses two parameters and develops specific values or sub-parameters of each.
  • 6. STEP 3: CHOOSE PARAMETERS/VALUES
    • Label the groups and reduce them to a manageable number. Rather than reaching for a recommended number, consider the capabilities of the group and the time available. Consider also that there are computer applications and other tools that can assist the process.
  • 7. STEP 4:"MORPHOLOGICAL BOX"
    • The next step is to fill a grid or grids with lists of parameters arranged along the axes. Now combinations can be identified within the grid. Depending on the number of items in play, great numbers of combinations may be available. This is also sometimes known as a “solution space”
  • 8.  
  • 9. Z-BOX
    • A Zwicky Z-box in three dimensions, contains 75 cells or “configurations”. (Zwicky, 1969, p. 118)
  • 10. STEP 5: DEVELOP SOLUTIONS
    • Eliminate those combinations that are impossible or undesirable to execute, put aside those that you do not want to eliminate but do not want to execute, and develop as many of the rest as possible. (Fill in the grid with potential solutions involving the meeting of two of the parameters.)
  • 11.  
  • 12. MORPHOLOGICAL ANALYSIS: ADVANTAGES
    • Zwicky calls MA "totality research" which, in an " unbiased way attempts to derive all the solutions of any given problem".
    • It may help us to discover new relationships or configurations, which may not be so evident , or which we might have overlooked by other - less structured – methods.
    • Importantly, it encourages the identification and investigation of boundary conditions , i.e. the limits and extremes of different contexts and factors.
  • 13. RESOURCES:
    • Web sites:
    • http://creatingminds.org/tools/morphological.htm
    • http://psychology.wikia.com/wiki/Morphological_analysis
    • http://www.ideaconnection.com/thinking-methods/morphological-analysis-00026.html
    • http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newCT_03.htm
    • http://abundance-blog.marelisa-online.com/2009/01/28/20-creative-thinking-techniques/
    • http://www.swemorph.com/index.html
  • 14. Instructional Technology Subjects Directions : List 5 different types of instructional technology in the boxes across the top row of the chart. Now list 5 different subject areas in the boxes down the first column. Then decide a relationship between instructional technology and subject matter in the boxes where the two intersect. Discuss your findings. MORPHOLOGICAL SYNTHESIS
  • 15. QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER CONSIDERATION
    • In what settings might Morphological Analysis be a useful strategy?
    • As a teacher, administrator, or student what ways can you see Morphological Analysis as being useful to apply in your school/classroom?
    • We gave you the parameters, but allowed you some choice in picking sub-parameters. In what ways might the exercise have been different if we had given you the sub-parameters as well? How might your solutions have been different?
    • Did your group come up with any solutions that you had not considered before?
    • How did, or might, this exercise help you to “stretch your thinking regarding the relationship between each of the sub-parameters?
    • Morphological Analysis was designed as an unbiased approach to exploring the possible solutions to a given problem complex. In addition to problem solving, to what other mental exercises might this strategy be applied? (For example, how might it be applied to considering a variety of different perspectives?)