32nd International Conference on Conceptual Modeling (ER 2013)
Hong Kong
Educational Symposium

  • Keynote: Teaching Undergraduates Conceptual Modelling: Why, What and How?
    John Mylopoulos
  • Former Students' Views on the Usefulness of Conceptual Modeling Education
    Albert Tort, Antoni Olivé, Joan Antoni Pastor
  • Teaching Conceptual Design Capture
    Karen Davis

Keynote Speech

Teaching Undergraduates Conceptual Modelling: Why, What and How?

John Mylopoulos

University of Trento


Abstraction is a core skill in computing, and models are its results. Conceptual Modelling constitutes an essential element of any curriculum where abstraction is properly taught, as it provides fundamental concepts, tools and techniques for building models of a domain for purposes of design, analysis and simulation. As a core skill, it should be taught from multiple perspectives, in several different courses using a variety of methods. And yet, in most undergraduate curricula in Computer and Information Science, Conceptual Modelling plays a backseat role, mentioned in various courses, but without any attempt to teach it as a coherent subject, with its own principles, tools and practices. We review some of the reasons why Conceptual Modelling deserves a centre stage in undergraduate curricula and sketch the basic ingredients that ought to be taught, along with some thoughts on the teaching methods that might be used.


John Mylopoulos holds a distinguished professor position (chiarafama) at the University of Trento, and a professor emeritus position at the University of Toronto. He earned a PhD degree from Princeton University in 1970 and joined the Department of Computer Science at the University of Toronto that year. His research interests include conceptual modelling, requirements engineering, data semantics and knowledge management. Mylopoulos is an ER Fellow and a fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) and the Royal Society of Canada (Academy of Sciences). He has served as programme/general chair of international conferences in Artificial Intelligence, Databases and Software Engineering, including IJCAI (1991), Requirements Engineering (1997), and VLDB (2004). Mylopoulos was recently awarded an advanced grant from the European Research Council for a project titled "Lucretius: Foundations for Software Evolution.” He was the winner of the 2010 Peter P. Chen Award for his contributions to the conceptual modelling.

Accepted Papers

Former Students' Views on the Usefulness of Conceptual Modeling Education

Albert Tort, Antoni Olivé, and Joan Antoni Pastor

Department of Service and Information System Engineering

Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya – Barcelona Tech


A big challenge for education and research in Requirements Engineering and Conceptual Modeling (RE/CM) is the need for much more empirical research about the use in practice of RE/CM, including the practical impact of CM education. Former students of RE/CM are potential prescriptors of the RE/CM concepts, methodologies and tools that they have learnt, but they are also conditioned by the current use of those same issues in practice. In this paper we focus on the views that former students of a RE/CM course have, now as young professionals, on the usefulness of the received CM education. We have surveyed over 70 former students to know their opinions on the usefulness of the educationon a representative set of CM artifacts. Our results show that our former students find quite useful in general their received CM education, with different usefulness degrees for the various learned artifacts.

Teaching Conceptual Design Capture

Karen C. Davis

University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA


In this paper, a framework for scholarly teaching is discussed and applied to teaching conceptual modeling in a database design course. The learning objectives are identified and used to select appropriate learning experiences and evaluation mechanisms. Student learning is evaluated via exam questions and a design capture project. A novel contribution of the assignment is that it includes both individual and team work, and the students revise their initial designs with instructor feedback as well as peer interaction. Results of assessment of student learning are given; the performance improvement of students on the assignment after feedback and with a partner is statistically significant. The framework is demonstrated to be useful for faculty to focus on guiding students to achieve competency and develop conceptual modeling knowledge and skills.

Flexible, Web-based Repositories for Instructional Materials

Lois M. L. Delcambre and Scott Britell

Computer Science Department

Portland State University, Portland OR 97225 USA


Websites and repositories often treat each resource (e.g., document or web page) as an independent resource. This is very helpful but some content, particularly educational content, has structure, e.g., where a course consists of some number of units, each unit consists of several class meetings (or lectures or lessons), and so forth. More than that, different courses can have different structures.

We have defined, implemented, and are hosting websites for course materials. We use the Drupal content management system and have extended it to easily handle varying, potentially complex structure (e.g., schemas) for courses. We have implemented generic features for browsing, downloading, and cloning courses. We would like to propose to host educational materials for teaching conceptual modeling using our software. Note that the this application is motivating our research on building generic functionality that works for multiple course schemas based on flexible schema mappings.

We will demonstrate our operational site (stemrobotics.cs.pdx.edu) - a site that has educational materials for teaching middle school and high school robotics. We will also demonstrate another site (using the same software) that hosts educational standards along with mappings that relate to the standards to course materials.