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The project “Scaffolds for Work Process Modeling” is concerned with supporting domain experts in articulating their knowledge about work processes and enabling them to collaboratively create consolidated representations that can directly be processed in information systems. Based upon earlier research, it adopts the pedagogical concept of scaffolding to support the articulation and elicitation process of the involved people. Scaffolding refers to the process of providing guidance to learners in completing a task and support them in developing the necessary skills themselves. The goal of scaffolding is to gradually fade out and ultimately become dispensable, because learners have acquired the necessary skills.

In the context of modeling work processes, this is necessary, as actors cannot be assumed to have any knowledge in conceptual modeling, which is required to create appropriate representations. Scaffolds will be developed for collaborative model articulation and for refining the models towards syntactically correct and semantically complete representations of the work process. Articulation and refinement are collaborative acts that ultimately should lead to the alignment of different perspectives on work processes.

The scaffolds need to be interactively adapted to facilitate the development of fundamental modeling knowledge and skills and gradually fade out, as these skills develop over time. Adaptation is performed with IT support by iteratively analyzing the models and deriving suggestions for refinement. The result of the project is a set of socio-technical instruments which enables collaborative articulation and elicitation of work processes. The innovativeness of the project can be justified from a scientific and a practical perspective. Scientifically, the project takes an interdisciplinary approach to advance the state of the art in the field of supporting collaborative conceptual modeling. More specifically, it brings together concepts from linguistics and formal model verification to support people without any formal modeling knowledge in autonomously producing models of their work processes. By empirically validating the effects of the developed instruments, it also will contribute to the state of the art in collaborative modeling methodologies and tool support. From a practical perspective, the project contributes to solving the challenge of funding IS design on sufficiently accurate and valid models of organizational reality. The application of the developed instruments poses an organizational intervention, which can be supportive in resolving contingencies or ineffective work practices on a social level. In this way, domain experts can create models of their work processes themselves, thus reducing the likeliness of shaping organizational reality based on inappropriate models.

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