Semantic analysis approach to studying design problem solving

To objectively and quantitatively study transcribed protocols of design problem solving conversations, we propose a semantic analysis approach based on dynamic semantic networks of nouns constructed with WordNet 3.1 lexical database. We examined the applicability of the semantic approach focused on a dynamic evaluation of the design problem solving process in educational settings. Using a case of real- world design problem-solving conversations, we show that the approach is able to determine the time dynamics of semantic factors such as level of abstraction, polysemy or information content, and quantify convergence/divergence of semantic similarity in design conversations between students, instructors and real clients. The approach can also be used to evaluate the aforementioned semantic factors for successful and unsuccessful ideas generated in the process of design problem solving, or to assess the effect of external feedback on the developed design solution. The proposed semantic analysis approach allows fast computation of the semantic factors in real time thereby demavonstrating a potential for both monitoring and support of the design problem solving process.