Journal of Information Systems Education


The concept of designing a relational database can be a difficult one for beginning students to assimilate. Evidence of poor database design in the past ten to fifteen years seems to suggest that educators might need to take a closer look at the way these concepts are presented in the hopes that student understanding might improve and hence, database design might also improve. A method for teaching these concepts that emphasizes a "back to basics" approach is presented to directly address this problem. The method makes use of a simple framework for helping students learn database design that can be used to supplement any popular text book. The framework is broad so that general information about the design can be obtained, but expandable so that increasing amounts of detail can be added as the design progresses from the conceptual stage through the logical stage, without losing sight of the final goal. The method by which the steps of this process are accomplished within the framework is explained in detail and it is shown how to develop an entity-relationship diagram (ERD) from the information obtained from the users. Although the E-R model is considered dated by many educators, the proper way to apply the method is provided and arguments in favor of its continued use are presented. Examples are included to illustrate the salient points including some which point out common errors and how to address them.



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