UML Acceptance: Analyzing the Students' Perception of UML Diagrams

  • Adriana Lopes
  • Igor Steinmacher
  • Tayana Conte


Unified Modeling Language (UML) has been adopted as a standard modeling language in the software industry for the graphical representation of analysis and design models. Due to its importance, UML is taught in most undergraduate majors in Software Engineering and Computing. However, little is known about the students' perception regarding the UML diagrams. Their perceptions may influence the diagrams' adoption since the students are future software engineers. This paper aims to start filling this gap by better understanding students' perception regarding UML diagrams acceptance. To achieve this goal, we applied a Focus Group to foster a discussion with undergraduate students about five UML diagrams. Besides, we applied the Technology Acceptance Model to assess the students' acceptance regarding these diagrams. Based on the results of this study, students considered use cases and class diagrams useful for designing systems, although they stated that their modeling was not easy. We also noticed that the perceived usefulness was the construct that most influenced the students' intention to use these diagrams. Our research benefits instructors interested in understanding the students' perceptions about UML, enlightening the points that they need to reinforce to show the benefits of the modeling language. Still, the instructors are invited to reflect on other teaching strategies to show the importance of these diagrams in the software development process.



B. Wei, H. S. Delugach, E. Colmenares, and C. Stringfellow, A Conceptual Graphs Framework for Teaching UML Model-Based Requirements Acquisition, in Proceeding 29th International Conference on Software Engineering Education and Training, 2016, pp. 71--75.

OMG, Unified Modeling Language Specification (v 2.0), 2004.

M. H. Osman and M. Chaudron, UML Usage in Open Source Software Development: A Field Study, in International Workshop on Experiences and Empirical Studies in Software Modelling, 2013, pp. 23--32.

A. M. Bhutto and D. M. A. Hussain, Formal verification of UML profile, in Australian Journal of Basic and Applied Sciences, 2011, vol. 5, no. 6, pp. 1594--1598.

M. Petre, UML in Practice, in Proceedings of the 35th International Conference on Software Engineering, 2013, pp. 722--731.

J. A. Cruz-Lemus, A. Maes, M. Genero, G. Poels, M. Piattini, The impact of structural complexity on the understandability of UML statechart diagrams, 2010, in Journal Information Sciences, vol. 180, no. 11, pp. 2209--2220.

G. Jošt, J. Huber, M. Heričko, G. Polančič, An empirical investigation of intuitive understandability of process diagrams, in Journal Computer Standards and Interfaces, vol. 48, no.1, 2016, pp. 90--111.

V. Venkatesh, and F. D. Davis, A Theoretical Extension of the Technology Acceptance Model: Four Longitudinal Field Studies, in Management Science, vol. 46, no. 2, 2000, pp. 186--204.

B. B. de França, T. V. Ribeiro, P. S. M. Santos, and G. H. Travassos, Using Focus Group in Software Engineering: Lessons Learned on Characterizing Software Technologies in Academia and Industry, in Proceedings of the 18th Conferencia Iberoamericana en Software Engineering, 2015, pp. 351--364.

N. Marangunić and A. Granić, Technology Acceptance Model: A Literature Review from 1986 to 2013, in Information Society, vol. 14, no.1, 2015, pp. 81--95.

K. Siau and P-P. Loo, Identifying difficulties in learning UML. Journal of Information Systems Management, vol. 23, no. 1, 2006, pp. 43--51.

R. Szmurło, F. Ortin, D. Zapico and J. M. Cueva, Design Patterns for Teaching Type Checking in a Compiler Construction Course, in IEEE Transactions on Education, vol. 50, no. 3, 2007, pp. 273--283.

L. Burgueño, A. Vallecillo and M. Gogolla, Teaching UML and OCL models and their validation to software engineering students: an experience report, in Journal Computer Science Education, vol. 28, no. 1, 2018, pp. 23 -41.

T. C. Lethbridge, Teaching Modeling Using Umple: Principles for the Development of an Effective Tool, in Proceedings of the 27th Conference on Software Engineering Education and Training, 2014, pp. 23--28.

OMG, Object constraint language specification, chapter 7 (Number OMG ptc/08-06-08), 2000.

A. Lopes, I. Steinmacher, and T. Conte. 2019. Analyzing the Students' Perception of UML Diagrams: Instruments Used in Evaluation. USES Research Group Technical Report, TR-USES-2019-0008. Available:

D. G. Bonett and T. A. Wright, Cronbach's Alpha Reliability: Interval Estimation, Hypothesis Testing, and Sample Size Planning, in Journal of Organizational Behavior, vol. 36, no. 1, 2014, pp. 3--15.

A. Lopes, I. Steinmacher, and T. Conte. 2019. Analyzing the Students' Perception of UML Diagrams: Results of the TAM (Technology Acceptance Model). USES Research Group Technical Report. TR-USES-2019-0007. Available:

C. Wohlin, P. Runeson, M. Höst, M. C. Ohlsson, B. Regnell, and A. Wesslén. 2000. Experimentation in Software Engineering: An Introduction (1st ed.). Kluwer Academic Publishers, Norwell, MA, USA.

G. Reggio, M. Leotta, F. Ricca, and D. Clerissi, What are the used activity diagram constructs? A survey, in Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Model-Driven Engineering and Software Development, 2014, pp. 87--98.

S. A. A. Freitas, W. C. M. P. Silva, G. Marsicano, Using an Active Learning Environment to Increase Students Engagement, in Proceedings of the 29th IEEE Conference on Software Engineering Education and Training (CSEET 2016), 2016, pp. 232--236.

S. C. Santos, M. C. M. Batista, A. P. C. Cavalcanti, J. Albuquerque, S. R. L Meira, Applying PBL in Software Engineering Education, in Proceedings of the 29th IEEE Conference on Software Engineering Education and Training (CSEET 2009), 2009, pp. 182--189.
Como Citar

Selecione um Formato
LOPES, Adriana; STEINMACHER, Igor; CONTE, Tayana. UML Acceptance: Analyzing the Students' Perception of UML Diagrams. In: EDUCATION - SIMPÓSIO BRASILEIRO DE ENGENHARIA DE SOFTWARE (SBES), 33. , 2019, Salvador. Anais [...]. Porto Alegre: Sociedade Brasileira de Computação, 2020 .