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Ilona Wilmont


  1. Co-supervisor: Stijn Hoppenbrouwers
  2. Supervisors: Erik Proper, Erik Barendsen

Problem definition

Modelling is a cognitively complex activity which is currently not well understood. Some modellers are perfectly capable of performing effortlessly, whereas others stray in all directions. Also, when modellers collaborate directly with stakeholders in a modelling process, interaction becomes even more difficult because the modellers are facing an extra cognitive burden: making sure stakeholders understand what they are talking about.

My research interests lie in the individual differences between modellers and stakeholders that influence how they perform in a modelling process. For this, I view modelling as a problem solving process involving abstraction and monitoring, as part of the executive control functions, as key activities.

Research questions

- What is the role of executive control processes in abstraction and modelling?
- How do individual differences in executive functioning influence how modellers form and reason with abstractions?
- How do differences in background and attitude influence modelling performance?

Research objectives

The aim of my research is to understand the modelling process in such a way that adequate support for collaborative modelling tools may be designed on the basis of this. I want to bridge the gap between the applied field of information science and the study of human problem solving and reasoning, which, from the perspective of information science, are inextricably tied together. 

Research approach

I am currently performing observational case studies at Dutch companies to get an idea of how modelling proceeds, and the influencing factors in the process. I use qualitative coding methods to analyse the observed behaviour, which will have to be subjected to statistical analysis to see if we can discover patterns of modelling behaviour.
Once we have our hypothesis set up, we will continue testing these in a controlled experimental setting.

Research results

Wilmont, I., Barendsen, E., Hoppenbrouwers, S.J.B.A., Hengeveld, S. Abstraction in Collaborative Modeling. To appear in: Proceedings of the 45th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, 2012.