CSC 1035

Databases for Many Majors

Spring, 2017

Home Page and Syllabus

Times and Location

Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:00-11:15, MSC G88

Table of Contents

About the Course

Welcome to CSC 1035 - Databases for Many Majors! Although databases is one of the hottest and most ubiquitous computer technologies, it's still possible to acquire an understanding of some of the underlying ideas without too much background. Furthermore, there are some user-friendly tools around that will let you actually design and use databases fairly painlessly. The major goals of this course are to help you with understanding, designing and using databases. Here's a blurb on the departmental website that is a little more detailed than the online catalog.

Much of your learning will be done in class, in your group settings (see below). However, in order to do more than just pass this course, you'll need to spend a fair amount of time outside class, especially on some of the more challenging material.

A major component of your deliverables this term will be constructing actual databases. One of these will be the group project, in which you'll be on a team that develops a database. The other will be an individual project, in which you'll develop one that deals with your particular interests. Both projects consist of a number of phases submitted over the course of a major portion of the semester.

Pretty much on a weekly basis, you'll be asked to do some reading outside of class to prepare for the next week's lectures. You'll also be given some specific questions on the reading. One of those questions will be the contents of a very short quiz on the due date. See the discussion of attendance below.

Our department expects about two hours work outside class for every hour of in-class lecture. Most weeks you'll have project submissions (both group and individual), an in-class graded lab and a quiz on the readings. There will also be three hourly exams (but no final! - see the relevant link below).

So here are some good strategies for getting the most out of this course and achieving a good grade at the same time:

Course Objectives

When you complete this course, you'll be able to

The FIT Certificate

If you haven't checked it out yet, see this page. Computing is such a hot skill these days, the Computing Sciences Department offers the opportunity of having your accomplishments recognized through the "Fluency in Technology" Certificate. The idea is that, regardless of your major, your computer literacy will be a great aid to you in whatever career you choose (and in getting hired!). Four courses are required, one of which must be this database course.

News Bulletins and Deadlines

  • May 4) Exam 3
  • May 9) 11:30-2:00) In this time slot, assigned for the final exam, we'll have our team project presentations.
  • May 11) g15 (final write ups) is due. The specs will be distributed soon. An extra point will be awarded for submissions by May 10. Unfortunately, because of the deadline for teachers to assign final grades, no late submissions can be accepted.

  • Your Participation in Educational Research

    Our course is now part of an NSF research grant on techniques in teaching databases. Like other research that compiles and publicizes data, NSF needs to be sure that subjects of the research (that's you) are aware of the implications of their participation. We'll discuss this in class, and I'll invite you to sign a consent form (which has some further details: here's a copy).

    Cooperative Learning

    We'll be using some innovative pedagogical techniques in our class, primarily cooperative learning. This boils down to doing lots of group work, where the group sizes are three and four, and learning from your peers as well as from me. If you're interested in the primary sources and inspirations of this approach, take a look at this site, and chase some of the links. It's a challenging method of education, but, if you read some of that material, you'll be relieved to find that not only have students experienced cooperative learning and survived, they've even managed, on the whole, to learn better than in a conventional setting.

    We'll start off on day one with temporary groups. By the end of the second week of the course, I hope to have set up your permanent ones (I will make the splits based on a number of factors - see the Felder bibliography on the site linked above for details). The groups will be doing work both in and out of class. Since your group will be depending on you, it's important to be a constructive member of it. I'll try to give some guidance on this. One thing to keep in mind is that, while the beginning of the term is a time when students make schedule adjustments, it wouldn't be classy to drop this course once the group work is underway.

    A successful group will help your grade in three ways:

    1. Periodic labs will be done in groups and submitted for a grade.
    2. Each group will be doing a team project, a major piece of database development. Almost every week will involve submitting some phase on this project.
    3. If every one in your group does well on an exam, then every one in it gets a bonus point or two.


    Dr. Don Goelman
    162A Mendel Science Center
    Voice:(610) 519-7346
    FAX: (610) 519-7889
    Office hours: TTh 3:00-4:00, W 9:30-11:00, and by appointment.

    Text and Other References


    Microsoft Access

    As our text mentions, there are many DBMS's around. One of the easiest ones to find and to learn is Microsoft's Access product. The systems in the teaching lab where our class meets all have MS-Access installed on them, as do many of the others around campus (and probably your own PC as well). Our textbook also has a much-expanded treatment of this software in the current edition. Some labs and project phases will help you get acquainted with Access. Resources to assist you are That said, you should watch for differing versions of MS-Access (just like MS-Word). Our graduate assistant will be able to assist you with any challenges related to such version changes.

    There are a couple of other things to get used to:

  • Some Villanova resources now require a two-stage process for accessing them from home.
  • If you do some MS-Access work on one of the systme in our classroom, you'll probably want to continue it elsewhere (on another computer; at home; ...). One way to do this is to save the database file on your N:\ drive (which follows you everywhere at Villanova.
  • If you're asked to email a copy of an MS-Access database file, you might need to compress it ("zip it") first.
  • The TA and I can help you negotiate these various processes.

    Graduate Assistant

    The TA for this course is Ms Sailaja Chagarlamudi (email: She will be able to help you in a number of ways, especially in understanding some of the more challenging material, in explaining difficult concepts of the text, in helping you with upcoming project phases, in helping you with MS-Access, and in rounding up copies of handouts you may have missed.

    Remember to cc her on all project phases and questions of any type.

    Other Gurus: Peer Tutoring

    The department also has a "peer tutoring" system, where students who've taken particular courses can help field questions about them. See this site for details.

    About Email

    The TA and I will frequently be sending important messages to your Villanova email address, so you should be checking it several times weekly. If there's a problem with this, you should contact us to solve it.

    About Blackboard

    While your main resource for this course will be this website and the ones it links to, you'll be able to use Blackboard to check your grades.

    About Hourly and Final (there is none) Exams

    In this course your learning will be assessed by the term project, quizzes, and three hourly exams, with the last one to occur on the second last day of class. There will be no final exam! This will allow us to use the 150-minute slot allotted for the final for another purpose, namely the team presentations of their database term project. More information about this appears in the links to Grades, Project and elsewhere.

    Students with Disabilities

    Students with disabilities who require reasonable academic accommodations should schedule an appointment to discuss specifics with me. It is the policy of Villanova to make reasonable academic accommodations for qualified individuals with disabilities. You must present verification and register with the Learning Support Office by contacting 610-519-5176 or at For physical access or temporary disabling conditions, please contact the Office of Disability Services at 610-519-4095 or email Registration is needed in order to receive accommodations.

    Academic Integrity

    All students are expected to uphold Villanova's Academic Integrity Policy and Code. Any incident of academic dishonesty will result in an "F" for the assignment and will be reported to the appropriate university officials, per regulations in the (Liberal Arts and Sciences) Catalog. You can view the Academic Integrity Policy and Code, as well as other useful information related to writing papers, at the Academic Integrity Gateway web site. You should also familiarize yourself with the details that you can find on these sites:
    The department's academic integrity overview page
    The department's academic integrity policy

    Finally, you might also want to take a look at the ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct.

    PowerPoint and Other Presentations

    Note: These links are being updated (eg, to be consistent with the most recent edition of our text).

    Other Useful Links

    Other Policies (late submissions, extra credit)

  • Project phases can come in up to midnight on the due date, after which "late fees" are imposed.
  • There won't be any opportunities for extra credit in this class. The reason is that it's too difficult to administer this in a consistent manner that is fair to everyone.

  • Last updated: May 3, 2017