The cognitive complexities confronting developers using object technology

Pauline Helen Mosley, Pace University


Many managers are adopting object technology initiatives to develop high-quality products more efficiently. Consequently, software practices are changing and there are repercussions across corporate and academic training. As new practices promise to yield increasing benefits in the software development cycle, the complexity is becoming proportionately greater. Technology has come so far, so fast, and with such success, that it is easy to forget how difficult computing actually is. Things appear easy, when looked at superficially, because products are so well designed, and cognitive complexities so well hidden, that preschoolers can be computer literate and the public at large can consider themselves computer savvy. Moreover, the toughness of new problems, because of their misleading simplicity, often fools the scientists themselves. When Smalltalk-80 appeared, object technology was touted as intuitively obvious; but experiences over the past 20 years have proven otherwise. Object technology is a cognitive minefield. This research examines the notion that object technologists, like the workers in artificial intelligence, have underestimated the complexities associated with the analysis, design, and coding of software from “virtual things” (i.e. objects). One manifestation is that the information systems community making up the software infrastructure in many organizations is resisting, misapplying, or only very slowly understanding objects. Another manifestation is that the academic community is perplexed by the way that objects are changing the view of software and how, correspondingly, the computer science curriculum must be adapted. Both of these manifestations are documented herein. Going beyond merely documenting the cognitive complexities of object technology, this research identifies those atomic-level constituents responsible for the shift from simple to complex with respect to analysis and design. This study concludes by proposing a pedagogical model that addresses these constituents and could thereby reduce the learning curve for retraining practitioners and restore clarity to the computer science curriculum. We hope this research contributes to the wider acceptance of object technology.

Subject Area

Computer science|Curricula|Teaching

Recommended Citation

Mosley, Pauline Helen, "The cognitive complexities confronting developers using object technology" (2002). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI3064837.



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