Comparing novice designer performance using a rule -based approach versus a pattern -based approach in conceptual data modeling tasks

Nicole Wishart, Florida International University


Conceptual database design is an unusually difficult and error-prone task for novice designers. This study examined how two training approaches---rule-based and pattern-based---might improve performance on database design tasks. A rule-based approach prescribes a sequence of rules for modeling conceptual constructs, and the action to be taken at various stages while developing a conceptual model. A pattern-based approach presents data modeling structures that occur frequently in practice, and prescribes guidelines on how to recognize and use these structures.^ This study describes the conceptual framework, experimental design, and results of a laboratory experiment that employed novice designers to compare the effectiveness of the two training approaches (between-subjects) at three levels of task complexity (within subjects).^ Results indicate an interaction effect between treatment and task complexity. The rule-based approach was significantly better in the low-complexity and the high-complexity cases; there was no statistical difference in the medium-complexity case. Designer performance fell significantly as complexity increased. Overall, though the rule-based approach was not significantly superior to the pattern-based approach in all instances, it out-performed the pattern-based approach at two out of three complexity levels. The primary contributions of the study are (1) the operationalization of the complexity construct to a degree not addressed in previous studies; (2) the development of a pattern-based instructional approach to database design; and (3) the finding that the effectiveness of a particular training approach may depend on the complexity of the task.^

Subject Area

Business Administration, Management|Information Science

Recommended Citation

Wishart, Nicole, "Comparing novice designer performance using a rule -based approach versus a pattern -based approach in conceptual data modeling tasks" (2006). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3249723.