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Abstract

Errors in spreadsheets pose a serious problem for organizations and academics. This has resulted in ongoing efforts to devise measures for reducing errors or efficient ways of correcting them. Visualization tools are often advertised as means for improving spreadsheet error correction performance. This study investigates the role of visualization tools in spreadsheet error correction. For this purpose, this study proposes a framework for classifying activities associated with spreadsheet error correction. The framework is to highlight the activities that are important for correcting different types of spreadsheet errors, and to show how different visualization tools can aid error correction by effectively supporting these activities. By identifying "chaining" as one of the most important activities from the framework, this study uses cognitive fit theory to examine the effects of a visualization tool that supports chaining on spreadsheet error correction performance. Experimental methodology is used to test the outcome of cognitive fit between the error correction task and the visualization tool. The results of the experiment highlight the importance of cognitive fit between the type of task and the visualization tool for attaining better performance. This study also provides guidelines for designing and developing tools for spreadsheet error correction.

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