Influence factors for local comprehensibility of process models

Kathrin Figl, Ralf Laue

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review

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The main aim of this study is to investigate human understanding of process models and to develop an improved understanding of its relevant influence factors. Aided by assumptions from cognitive psychology, this article attempts to address specific deductive reasoning difficulties based on process models. The authors developed a research model to capture the influence of two effects on the cognitive difficulty of reasoning tasks: (i) the presence of different control-flow patterns (such as conditional or parallel execution) in a process model and (ii) the interactivity of model elements. Based on solutions to 61 different reasoning tasks by 155 modelers, the results from this study indicate that the presence of certain control-flow patterns influences the cognitive difficulty of reasoning tasks. In particular, sequence is relatively easy, while loops in a model proved difficult. Modelers with higher process modeling knowledge performed better and rated subjective difficulty of loops lower than modelers with lower process modeling knowledge. The findings additionally support the prediction that interactivity between model elements is positively related to the cognitive difficulty of reasoning. Our research contributes to both academic literature on the comprehension of process models and practitioner literature focusing on cognitive difficulties when using process models.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96 - 110
JournalInternational Journal of Human-Computer Studies
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 102006 Computer supported cooperative work (CSCW)
  • 102015 Information systems
  • 102013 Human-computer interaction
  • 102024 Usability research
  • 502050 Business informatics
  • 501011 Cognitive psychology
  • 503008 E-learning

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