The role of tangibility and iconicity in collaborative modelling tasks

Dan Ionita, Deniece S. Nazareth, Alexandr Vasenev, Frank van der Velde, Roel Wieringa

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In collaborative modelling, a group of stakeholders construct a shared graphical representation of a system. In practice, not all stakeholders may fully comprehend the modelling language. This may reduce their participation, which results in reduced model quality. Our goal is to investigate which features of modelling languages help stakeholders contribute to collaborative modelling tasks. Earlier research shows that iconicity, ie similarity between sign and object, improves understandability, and that tangibility, ie physical graspability of signs, improves participation of stakeholders. In this paper we report on a 2x2 factorial experiment that explores for the first time the interaction between iconicity and tangibility in the context of collaborative modelling. In this experiment, tangibility promoted equal participation, and iconicity had a beneficial impact on understandability, modelling speed and model quality. Notably, tangibility magnified the effects of iconicity. We relate these results to previous findings and interpret them in terms of existing theories.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the ER Forum 2017 and the ER 2017 Demo track
EditorsCristina Cabanillas, Sergio España, Siamak Farshidi
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 9 Nov 2017
EventER Forum/Demos 2017 - Valencia, Spain
Duration: 6 Nov 20179 Nov 2017


ConferenceER Forum/Demos 2017
Abbreviated titleER


  • ER Forum
  • Tangible modelling
  • Iconicity
  • Collaborative modelling
  • Factorial experiment
  • System modelling

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