Data Modeling: A Vehicle for Teaching Creative Problem Solving and Critical Appraisal Skills

Data Modeling: A Vehicle for Teaching Creative Problem Solving and Critical Appraisal Skills

Clare Atkins (Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology, New Zealand)
Copyright: © 2002 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-931777-05-6.ch023
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Despite extensive changes in technology and methodology, anecdotal and empirical evidence (e.g., Davis et al., 1997) consistently suggests that communication and problem-solving skills are fundamental to the success of an IT professional. As two of the most valued skills in an IT graduate, they should be essential components of an effective education program, regardless of changes in student population or delivery mechanisms. While most educators would concur with this view, significantly more emphasis is generally placed on teaching the tools and techniques that students will require in their future careers, and a corresponding amount of energy is expended in attempting to identify what those tools and techniques might be. In contrast, successful problem solving is often seen either as an inherent capability that some students already possess or as a skill that some will magically acquire during the course of their studies. Data modeling as an activity, by which we mean the gathering and analysis of users’ information needs and their representation in an implementable design, is largely one of communication and problem solving and, consequently, provides an excellent opportunity for explicitly teaching these skills. Data modeling is generally considered to be one of the more difficult skills to teach (e.g., Hitchman, 1995; Pletch, 1989), particularly if the student has no previous understanding of physical data structures (de Carteret & Vidgen, 1995). The essential constructs, such as entities, attributes or objects, may be elegant in their powerful simplicity, but their combination into a useful design is a complex process of categorization in which there is “considerable room for choice and creativity in selecting the most useful classification” (Simsion, 1994 p.82). Data modeling requires not only the ability to communicate about and to solve a problem, but also to create possible solutions and then choose between them. Herein lies the difficulty. It is not enough to learn what the different constructs are, or even to study simple textbook examples of how to put them together. The student must really understand the problem, be able to create and recognize a number of possible ways in which the problem can be solved, and then exercise considerable critical skills in choosing between them. This chapter examines these issues and describes various ways in which final-year undergraduate students, taking a specialist module in data modeling, have been encouraged to develop, and have confidence in, their creative and critical ability to solve problems in a disciplined and systematic way.

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Table of Contents
Mohammad Dadashzadeh, Al Saber, Sherry Saber
Chapter 1
David A. Banks
There is a growing emphasis upon the provision of education through web delivery services that will allow universities and other educational... Sample PDF
Web-Delivered Education: Shaking the Foundations of the "Establishment"?
Chapter 2
Cecil Schmidt
The continuing evolution in state-of-the-art business applications such as those that support e-commerce, advancements in programming language... Sample PDF
An Advanced Course in Application Programming and Design
Chapter 3
Julie R. Mariga
As distributed computing architectures have increased, the need for technology professionals that are skilled in telecommunications and networking... Sample PDF
Establishing a Telecommunications and Networking Technology B. S. Degree
Chapter 4
Richard L. Peterson, Joan D. Mahoney
Information technology provides a unique challenge to universities to maintain the relevance of their offerings as the rate of technical change far... Sample PDF
An Action Learning Approach for the Development of Technology Skills
Chapter 5
Dusan Lesjak, Miroslav Rebernik
The chapter describes an Information Resources Management course in a Small Business Management program at the Faculty of Economics and Business... Sample PDF
Real-World Learning of Information Resource Managemetn
Chapter 6
Sanjeev Phukan, Ashok Ranchhod, T. Vasudavan
The last quarter of this century has seen a sea change in Information Systems (IS) and Information Technology (IT), including computers... Sample PDF
IS Education in the New Millennium: Determining the "Right" Curriculum
Chapter 7
Nancy Tsai, Thomas E. Hebert
A college graduate has to be computer literate in order to gain competitive edge in today’s business world since information technology, ranging... Sample PDF
Measurement of a College Computer Literacy Course
Chapter 8
Bill Morgan, Bob Godfrey
This chapter presents findings from a study of Information Systems tutorials. The study sought to discover if the use of prescribed homework... Sample PDF
The Place of Homework in an Information Systems Tutorials
Chapter 9
Kevin D. Reilly, Norman W. Bray
Modeling human learning and performance that also involves data collection requires teamwork, most often inter-disciplinary. When research is of... Sample PDF
Human Learning Models and Data Collection over the "Long Haul"
Chapter 10
Steve Benson, Craig Standing
The “IS skills debate” still persists in being a commonly researched area. In this paper we examine the related issue of fundamental thinking styles... Sample PDF
Are Information Systems Students in their Right Minds?
Chapter 11
Donald J. Caputo, Frederick J. Kohun
A paradox is occurring today in the Information Technology (IT) field. At the very moment that a large unmet demand for IT workers exists... Sample PDF
The Gender Issue in Information Technology: Collegiate and Corporate Solutions
Chapter 12
Earl Chrysler, Stuart Van Auken
The purpose of this study was to determine which entry-level course evaluations are drivers of an attitude of approval toward an MIS program, which... Sample PDF
A Methodology for Validating Entry Level Value versus Career Value of Courses in an MIS Program
Chapter 13
Henry H. Emurian, Ashley G. Durham
This chapter addresses the challenge of how to structure a learning environment to teach object-oriented computer programming to students who may... Sample PDF
A Personalized System of Instruction for Teaching Java
Chapter 14
I. T. Hawryszkiewycz
The chapter describes ways to create a variety of learning environments. It suggests that good practices require both the definition of places of... Sample PDF
Places and Processes in Learning Environments
Chapter 15
Douglas Leif
This chapter suggests the challenges of academic information systems programs are a product of origin and evolution. Based upon the literature and... Sample PDF
IS Program Issues: From Origin to Accreditation
Chapter 16
John Mendonca
The current business environment requires that all Information Technology (IT) professionals, not just managers, develop a strategic perspective... Sample PDF
Educating the Business Information Technologist: Developing a Strategic IT Perspective
Chapter 17
Mike Metcalfe, Samantha Grant
In many universities, there is either no requirement for an oral examination or for examiners to guide Ph.D. candidates prior to submission of their... Sample PDF
Collaborative Ph.D. Examination
Chapter 18
Anthony Scime
Computer science and information systems are interrelated disciplines that both cover the technical and functional aspects of computing. They are... Sample PDF
Information Systems and Computer Science Model Curricula: A Comparative Look
Chapter 19
Linda V. Knight, Susy S. Chan
The very nature of e-commerce requires a rapid, flexible approach to curriculum development. This chapter describes a successful model for the... Sample PDF
E-Commerce Curriculum Development and Implementation
Chapter 20
Beverly G. Hope, Mariam Fergusson
As the information systems discipline grows, so do the number of programs offering graduate research degrees. These include one-year post-graduate... Sample PDF
The Challenge of Teaching Research Skills to Information Systems and Technology Students
Chapter 21
Chris Cope, Lorraine Staehr, Pat Horan
In this chapter we report on an ongoing project to improve the ways we teach about IT in an undergraduate degree. Using a relational perspective on... Sample PDF
Towards Establishing the Best Ways to Teach and Learn about IT
Chapter 22
Ned Kock, Camille Auspitz, Brad King
This chapter discusses a course partnership involving Day & Zimmermann, Inc. (DZI), a large engineering and professional services company, and... Sample PDF
Bridging the Industry-University Gap: An Action Research Study of a Web-Enabled Course Partnership
Chapter 23
Clare Atkins
Despite extensive changes in technology and methodology, anecdotal and empirical evidence (e.g., Davis et al., 1997) consistently suggests that... Sample PDF
Data Modeling: A Vehicle for Teaching Creative Problem Solving and Critical Appraisal Skills
Chapter 24
Arthur Tatnall, Bill Davey
The discipline of Information Systems (IS), in common with the other major branches of computing, is subject to constant and continuing change as... Sample PDF
Information Systems Curriculum Development as an Ecological Process
Chapter 25
Geoffrey C. Mitchell, Beverly G. Hope
Fuelled by the increasing connectivity afforded by the Internet and the flexibility offered by Web technologies, the use of technology in education... Sample PDF
Teaching or Technology: Who's Driving the Bandwagon?
About the Editors