Aysolmaz, B., Cayhani, F. N., & Reijers, H. A. (Accepted/In press). Narration as a Technique to Improve Process Model Comprehension: Tell Me What I Cannot See. In Proceedings of the 34th International Conference on Advanced Information Systems Engineering (CAiSE’22)
Conceptual models play a vital role in the engineering of information systems. A variety of stakeholders rely on their use, but they often find it challenging to make sense of such models. This is particularly known to be the case for process models, which capture complex temporal behavior. In practice, professionals often extend process models with textual descriptions to make them easier to understand, but it is not known whether this creates an even higher cognitive burden. In this study, we adopt the dual coding theory and the cognitive theory of multimedia learning, which suggest that people experience a better learning process when materials are presented via two different sensory channels (i.e., auditory and visual). We used this theory to set up and conduct an experiment with 42 participants that involve models of two real-life processes. We also implemented an online environment, which presents additional information on process model elements through the auditory channel in the form of narration. Our findings support that the use of narration may have a positive impact on process model comprehension, although it seems to depend on the kind of model elements that are explained. We discuss the implications of these findings and suggest further directions for research into process model comprehension.