Problem formulation is an important part of the design process that has been largely underexplored. Similarly, the relationship between how designers formulate problems and creative outcome is not well understood. To shed light on what the process of problem formulation can tell us about creativity in design, we use the problem map model — a flexible, domain-independent ontology for modeling the design formulation process — to analyze protocols from eight expert designers. In this paper, we discuss the effectiveness of using problem maps for coding design protocols and what the problem map model can tell us about the protocols of designers. In this exploratory study, we use the problem map model to code and analyze the problem formulation stage of the design process.

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