The Effects of Construct Redundancy on Readers' Understanding of Conceptual Models

The Effects of Construct Redundancy on Readers' Understanding of Conceptual Models

Palash Bera (Operations and IT Management, John Cook School of Business, Saint Louis University, St. Louis, MO, USA) and Geert Poels (Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Gent, Belgium)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 25
DOI: 10.4018/JDM.2017070101
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Abstract

This paper investigates the effect of construct redundancy on readers' understanding of conceptual models. Conceptual models play a crucial role in understanding the domain related to information system development. The clarity of such models can be compromised if they are constructed using a conceptual modelling grammar exhibiting construct redundancy where one real-world phenomenon maps to two or more grammar constructs. With two empirical studies on solving domain-related problems using Unified Modeling Language (UML) class diagrams as conceptual domain models, it was found that when construct redundancy is present at different strengths, then the effect of the redundancy on the understanding of a model depends on the modeling knowledge of the reader. Novice readers with minimal modeling knowledge find models difficult to interpret when a strong level of redundancy caused by distinct construct redundancy exists. However, when the models have a weak level of redundancy then these readers find them easier to understand compared to models without redundancy. In contrast, trained readers are indifferent to a weak level of redundancy in a model.
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2. Theoretical Background And Prediction

Ontological theory explains the structure and behavior of the world. If one agrees to the worldview expressed by the ontological theory, then a mental model of some real-world situation can be created in terms of the ontological constructs and this model can be externalized by articulating it with grammatical constructs (Guizzardi, 2005). The theory of ontological expressiveness (Wand & Weber, 1993) identifies four types of ontological deficiency of a conceptual modeling grammar that might affect the ability to represent some real-world phenomena completely and clearly. These deficiencies are: (a) construct deficit – when the grammar contains no construct that maps to a particular ontological construct, (b) construct excess- when the grammar contains a construct that does not map to any ontological construct, (c) construct overload- when the grammar contains a construct that maps to two or more ontological constructs, and (d) construct redundancy- when the grammar contains two or more constructs that map to a single ontological construct. Wand and Weber (2017) mention that construct deficit undermines the ontological completeness of a grammar and ontological excess, overload, and redundancy undermine its ontological clarity.

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