User Comprehension of Accounting Information Structures: An Empirical Test of the REA Model
This paper presents a laboratory experiment that evaluates the REA approach for modelling enterprise-wide accounting information systems. REA is a pattern-driven conceptual modelling approach that is based on the Resource-Event-Agent semantic model of a company’s accountability infrastructure. Using a between-subjects experiment with business students we investigated whether Entity-Relationship (ER) diagrams that show a REA pattern occurrence are better understood than informationally equivalent ER diagrams that do not show a REA pattern occurrence. The results of our experiment indicate that students develop a more accurate understanding of the business processes and policies modelled when they recognize the REA structure of accounting information in ER diagrams. Students also perceive such diagrams to be easier to use when performing model comprehension and validation tasks. The experiment further showed that the number of information systems courses taken by students has a significant effect on task performance. The number of accounting courses completed before the experiment did not affect the understanding of business process models. The paper concludes by discussing some implications for Accounting Information Systems (AIS) education.
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