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Transforming a database systems and design course for non computer science majors

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2 Author(s)
Dean, T.J. ; United States Mil. Acad., West Point, NY, USA ; Milani, W.G.

Methods of instruction for many undergraduate courses in database systems and design still focus primarily an lectures and a single, all-encompassing design project to reinforce database concepts. This paper describes how the database systems course taught at the US Military Academy has evolved to include immediate concept reinforcement in the classroom using networked PCs and a graphically-oriented relational database and application development software tool for each cadet. Heretofore, many relational database concepts were discussed in theory and not thoroughly demonstrated. Our course incorporates immediate concept demonstration using running courseware examples that graphically illustrate practical application of the underlying theory. These examples, for instance, allow direct mapping from theoretical discussions of relational algebra to SQL implementation and finally to query-by-example construction. The traditional course culminated in a final project of limited practical use. This delayed mastery of the theory until completion of the course project, still leaving students without a meaningful product to show for their efforts. With direct application of the theory in our course, understanding is immediate. This allows successful integration of an early project of equal magnitude to the usual final design project. Later, a capstone design project is permitted, emphasizing group interaction with a real-world client and team development of a viable, stand-alone database application. To conclude the course, groups orally present their product in class and write a technical report supporting their work

Published in:

Frontiers in Education Conference, 1995. Proceedings., 1995  (Volume:2 )

Date of Conference:

1-4 Nov 1995