Chapter 6: Entity Relationship Diagrams
Teaching Tips and Strategies (from Barbara Wixom)
The way to present this chapter to students really depends on the way in which data management is taught in the curriculum at your school. The programs within which I have taught have all offered a Data Management course that precedes SAD. Given this, I use Chapter 7 as a review chapter and spend two sessions or less on the topic.
I have the students read the chapter as review and then, instead of presenting material lecture-style, I have them do an in-class modeling exercise (many of the chapter’s end of chapter questions or mini-case would serve well). Then, I go over the exercise, keeping an eye out for concepts that seem to have been forgotten from earlier courses. I then do a bit of lecturing on the fly depending on what areas the students seem weakest. After I feel comfortable that the students have the basics down, I will cover normalization as a way of “validating” a data model.
You can actually make this a fun review day by putting students in groups to work on modeling problems that you assign from the end of the chapter. Then ask tough questions that get at some of the more difficult concepts in the chapter to see if students can work out the answers as a group. (For example, see if they understand the difference between cardinality and modality, or the difference between identifying and non-identifying entities.) Finally, have them normalize their data model to see if they created it correctly.
I always make time to lecture about balance between data modeling and process modeling. At this point, I like to communicate how closely integrated the entire development process really is. It can be a good exercise to show an existing data model and then come up with a list of “client changes” that a pretend client has just asked for. Talk about how both the process and data models will need to change based on the list.
One thing I have...