Volume 6

Volume 6, Number 46

October 29, 2008

9 pages1034 K bytes

The Tinkertoy(tm) Exercise for Motivating Formal System Modeling

Leslie J. Waguespack, Jr.
Bentley College
Waltham, MA 02154-4705 USA

Abstract: Effective system modeling is a critical skill and essential learning for every information systems professional – undergraduate and graduate. The novice finds the modeling task deceptively difficult. Complicated by multiple stakeholder perspectives / interpretations, large amounts of information gathered and transmitted, and an almost totally abstract problem domain, system modeling relies heavily on formal, disciplined language and representation. The benefits of formality and discipline are not easily impressed upon the novice student. A standard academic course setting must be so compact as to render most classroom practice trivial. The “Tinkertoy® Construction” exercise is a tangible and effective metaphor for the systems analysis and design task. It highlights and explains the challenges of disambiguation, domain knowledge capture, and efficient team communication in a non-threatening, profoundly engaging and portable experience. Once lived, the exercise evinces insight that can anchor virtually every aspect of the systems analysis and design syllabus.

Keywords: modeling, pedagogical learning devices, systems analysis and design curricula, IS curricula

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Recommended Citation: Waguespack (2008). The Tinkertoy(tm) Exercise for Motivating Formal System Modeling. Information Systems Education Journal, 6 (46). http://isedj.org/6/46/. ISSN: 1545-679X. (A preliminary version appears in The Proceedings of ISECON 2006: §3342. ISSN: 1542-7382.)