An automated, real-time learning environment for teaching SQL and Database Management
Robert B Jackson Brigham Young University
Gary Hansen Brigham Young University
Gove Allen Brigham Young University
One or more of the foundational courses in virtually every collegiate computer information systems program are relational database management courses. Database courses usually include an important skills based component so that students develop the SQL programming expertise necessary to create well-formed database tables and to query those database tables.
There are several factors that are important for a teaching environment that is conducive to learning a new skill, particularly a programming skill such as SQL:
1. The environment must provide a comprehensive and easily used set of tools for the students.
2. The environment should allow the student to practice with multiple attempts at writing code.
3. The environment should provide timely feedback for each attempt. Ideally, this feedback is immediate.
4. The environment should support each student in a separate database or address space to permit creating, updating, and modifying the database.
5. All of the above should be provided to all course-registered students concurrently without overwhelming the instructor or teaching assistants.
Typically, one of four approaches is taken to allow students to have hands-on experience with the database technology.
1. Students work with Microsoft Access either on their own computers or in a lab
2. Students install local versions of an enterprise-class RDMBS (Oracle, SQL Server, MySQL) on their own computers
3. Students use instructional sites such as sqlzoo.net or sqlcourse.com
4. Departments install and maintain a central RDBMS and give students access
Each of these approaches has limitations that make it less than ideal either pedagogically or administratively. Pedagogically, none of these approaches satisfy all the requirements listed above.
An approach to teaching relational database management that solves the identified problems and promises the best of all these approaches has recently been made available through the online textbook publisher, MyEducator. This approach integrates a complete, collegiate-level textbook covering important database topics, along with tools integrated directly in the text that allow for the real-time execution of SQL using MyEducator servers hosting Oracle and MS SQL Server. Code boxes are provided throughout the web-based, online text allowing students to practice as they read.
Perhaps most importantly, the book contains many SQL exercises covering creating tables, inserting and modifying data, as well as deep coverage of query writing—all with automatic grading features that allow students to submit solutions real-time, get immediate feedback, learn from their mistakes and submit again. In this environment, the instructor is in complete control about how many attempts students get on an assignment as well as how those submissions will be scored.
In this workshop, attendees will have a first-hand opportunity to use the technology that addresses the five issues described above.
First the participants will get to work through two typical sets of student exercises. The initial set will be SQL query exercises against a common database. The second set will be SQL create and update statements, which require that each participant (student) have their own unique database address space.
The second portion of the workshop will allow the participants to learn and use the teacher tools to administer the technology including maintaining the exercises, the databases, and the grading rules.
The workshop will include demonstrations as well as hands-on practice.
Attendees will receive a certificate that will allow them to use the system and textbook to teach their students for one semester free of charge.
Targeted Attendees Instructors that teach courses that have an SQL component. Typical courses include comprehensive database management and design courses as well as more focused courses in data querying or data analysis – any course that requires students to learn or understand Structured Query Language.
Recommended Citation: Jackson, R. B., Hansen, G., Allen, G., (2016). An automated, real-time learning environment for teaching SQL and Database Management. Proceedings of the EDSIG Conference, (2016) n.4177, Las Vegas, Nevada