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Curtis R. Friedel

Associate Professor
  • Director and Co-Founder, Center for Cooperative Problem Solving (CCPS)
2270 Litton-Reaves Hall
Mail Code 0343
Blacksburg, Virginia 24061

Ph.D., Agricultural Education and Communication, 2006, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL

B.S., Agricultural Education, 1999, Northwest Missouri State University, Maryville, MO

Dr. Friedel’s current research program is focused on problem solving and critical thinking as it relates to leadership and managing change; as well as teaching and learning. Specific attention of his research has been placed on the examination of adaption-innovation theory and use of Kirton’s Adaption-Innovation Inventory (KAI). Populations for these areas of research include community leaders, organizations, businesses, adults and youth.

Dr. Friedel is currently engaged in identifying ways to help organizations solve problems together through application of adaption-innovation theory.  By identifying how people solve problems (their problem-solving style), effective teams may be formed to effectively solve problems arising from both inside and outside the organization. Evidence from research suggests that individuals have an innate, stable, and measurable preference in solving problems; either being more adaptive or more innovative. This preference in solving problems and managing change is measured with Kirton’s Adaption-Innovation Inventory (KAI), and uncorrelated with motivation, skill set, and intelligence. Dr. Friedel is a co-instructor of the KAI Accreditation Course.  Website

  • Sheffield, R. & Friedel, C. R., (2022). Adaption-innovation theory: A tribute to Dr. Michael J. Kirton. International Journal of Innovation Management, 26(1). doi:10.1142/S1363919622770011.
  • Friedel, C. R., Seibel, M. M., Walz, J. H. (Eds.). (2022). Proceedings from the 2nd Annual KAI Symposium: Online. Blacksburg, VA: Virginia Tech.
  • McIntyre L.S., Friedel C.R., & Lathan C. (2022). Problem-solving style and resiliency of navy seals: how are the more adaptive and the more innovative different. Thinking Skills and Creativity. 43. doi: 10.1016/j.tsc.2022.101001
  • Carper, K., & Friedel, C. (2021). Systems thinking and hybrid learning: Findings for improving teaching in the COVID-19 era. NACTA Journal, (COVID 19 Special Issue), 144-155.
  • Friedel, C. R., Seibel, M. M., Walz, J. H. (Eds.). (2021). Proceedings from the 1st Annual KAI Symposium: Online. Blacksburg, VA: Virginia Tech.
  • Bush, S. A., Friedel, C. R., Hoerbert, L. R., & Broyles, T. W. (2017). Connecting problem-solving style to peer evaluations of performance in secondary cooperative learning projects. Journal of Agricultural Education, 58(2), 35-49. doi:10.5032/jae.2017.02035
  • Fuller, J. M., & Friedel, C. R. (2017). Developing volunteer leaders: Let their intentions guide the way. Journal of Leadership Education, 16(3), 45-66. doi:1012806/V16/I3/R2
  • Friedel, C. R., Cletzer, D. A., Bush, S. A., & Barber, J. D. (2017). Relationships between eco-leadership and problem-solving styles of gifted and talented youth. Journal of Leadership Education, 16(4), 60-75. doi:1012806/V16/I4/R4
  • Friedel, C. R., Spindler, M., & Cherbaka, N. (2017, April). Cooperative problem solving and student’s preference for adaption or innovation. Proceedings of the 2017 Annual Conference of the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers, Pittsburg, PA.
  • Friedel, C. R., Clegorne, N., Kaufman, E., Seibel, M., & Anderson, J. C. (2016) Connecting leadership with preferences towards adaption and innovation. Journal of Leadership Studies, 10(1), 37-39. doi: 10.1002/jls.21437
  • Friedel, C. R., Kirland, K. C., & Grimes, M. W. (2016). Principles of peer leadership: An undergraduate course for students in positions to serve fellow students. Journal of Leadership Education, 15(2), 38-47. doi: 1012806/V15/I2/A2
  • Helms, J., Niewolny, K., Clark, S., McConnell, K., & Friedel, C. R. (2016). Learning through collaborative and interdisciplinary teaching: A case study of faculty work as learning in sustainable agriculture education. NACTA Journal, 60(2), 219-226.
  • Hess, J. & Friedel, C. (2015). Applying a critical thinking framework to improve intelligence analysis. Global Security and Intelligence Studies, 1(1), 31-54.
  • Hanks, S., Kaufman, E., Friedel, C., Clegorne, N., Seibel, M., & Burbaugh, B. (2015). A Model of leader development across the life span (VCE Publication No. ALCE-104P). Blacksburg, VA: Virginia Cooperative Extension. Retrieved from:
  • Friedel, C. (2014). The value of adaption and innovation as a function of diversity. In N. Erbe (Ed.) Approaches to managing organizational diversity and innovation (pp. 63-81). Hershey, PA: IGI Global. doi: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6006-9.ch004
  • Samms, C., & Friedel, C. R. (2013). Cognitive style differences and student coping behavior. Academy of Educational Leadership Journal, 17(1), 85-101.
  • Samms, C., & Friedel, C. R. (2012). Relationship between dissimilar cognitive styles and use of learning strategies. Academy of Educational Leadership Journal, 16(3), 113-130.
  • Vercellone-Smith, P., Jablokow, J., & Friedel, C. (2012). Characterizing communication networks in a web-based classroom: Cognitive styles and linguistic behavior of self-organizing groups in online discussions. Computers and Education 59(2) 222-235. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2012.01.006
  • Friedel, C. R. & Rudd, R. D. (2009). Relationships between students’ engagement and the dissimilar cognitive styles of their undergraduate instructors. Career and Technical Education Research, 34(1), 21-45. doi:10.5328/CTER34.1.21
  • Rhoades, E. B., Ricketts, J. C., & Friedel, C. R. (2009). Cognitive potential: How different are agriculture students? Journal of Agricultural Education, 50(3), 43-55. doi:10.5032/jae.2009.03043
  • Stedman, N. L. P., Irani, T. A., Friedel, C. R., Rhoades, E. B., & Ricketts, J. C. (2009). Relationship between critical thinking disposition and need for cognition among undergraduate students enrolled in leadership courses. NACTA Journal, 53(3), 62-70. 
  • Friedel, C., Irani, T., Rhoades, E., Fuhrman, N., & Gallo, M. (2008). It’s in the genes: Exploring relationships between critical thinking and problem solving in undergraduate agri-science students’ solutions to problems in Mendelian genetics. Journal of Agricultural Education, 49(4), 25-37. doi:10.5032/jae.2008.04025

ALCE 4884: Youth Program Management

ALCE 5004: Teaching Practices in Agriculture & Life Sciences

ALCE 5804: Scientific Procedures in Agricultural Extension and Education

LDRS 1015: Exploring Citizen Leadership

LDRS 2014: Principles of Peer Leadership

LDRS 3104: The Dynamics of Leadership

LDRS 5554: Leading Social Change