Analyzing the Cognitive Difficulties for Developing and Using UML Class Diagrams for Domain Understanding

Analyzing the Cognitive Difficulties for Developing and Using UML Class Diagrams for Domain Understanding

Palash Bera (Operations and IT Management, John Cook School of Business, Saint Louis University, Saint Louis, MO, USA)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 29
DOI: 10.4018/jdm.2012070101
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Abstract

Developing and using conceptual models require modelers’ cognitive efforts. To identify and analyze the cognitive difficulties of modelers in developing and using conceptual models, two laboratory studies were conducted using UML class diagram as a conceptual modeling technique. In the first study, two groups of modelers were trained to develop UML class diagrams, with only one group being trained to develop the diagrams using ontological rules. All these diagrams were then provided to a different set of modelers who used them to answer domain understanding tasks. It was found that modelers who used the ontological rules had less difficulty in developing the diagrams than those who didn’t. Similarly, modelers who used the diagrams developed by the group trained with rules had less difficulty in performing problem solving tasks than the modelers who used the diagrams developed by the group without training. It was observed that the cognitive difficulties of the modelers of the first study were transferred to the modelers in the second study.
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Background

UML Class Diagrams

Object-oriented (OO) languages are increasingly being used for describing business applications (Evermann & Halimi, 2008). The most popular UML diagram used in practice is the UML class diagram, which describes the static structure of an OO model (Dobing & Parsons, 2006), and is also widely used for IS design (Davies, et al., 2006; Fettke, 2009). This paper focuses on UML class diagrams and a key construct of this diagram- association class. Association class is defined as an association that has attributes or operations of its own or that participates in relationships with other classes (Hoffer et al., 2007). UML association class was selected as “association” is a widely used construct in OO languages (Milicev, 2007).

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