Databases for Many Majors
Home Page and Syllabus
Times and Location
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:00-11:15, MSC G88
Table of Contents
Welcome to CSC 1035 - Databases for Many Majors!
Although databases is one of the
hottest and most ubiquitous computer technologies, it's still possible
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.
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
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
So here are some good strategies for getting the most out of this course
and achieving a good grade at the same time:
- Do the normal things, like study for the exams.
- Maintain good attendance, so that you'll get the in-class practice of
our labs and accumulate high grades on them.
- Spend a fair amount of time playing with the sample databases in MS-Access, even if there's not a specific assignment pending.
- Make sure your team gets all the project phases submitted in time. There
are serious penalties for late submsissions of these phases.
- Ditto for your individual project in database development.
- Allocate enough time outside class to learn the
concepts of databases, especially, for those hoping for a grade of B+ or
better, the more challenging ones.
When you complete this course, you'll be able to
use database technology for
your own personal and professional needs, and you may well find your
expertise a strategic asset for that post-Villanova job search (for an even
better deal, see the FIT description in the next section.).
appreciate the benefits of the database approach to keeping track of things.
know what relational databases are.
be comfortable with SQL
and other approaches for accessing databases.
use at least one tool for the conceptual design of a database.
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.
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.
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
here's a copy).
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
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:
- Periodic labs will be done in groups and submitted for a grade.
- 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.
- 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
FAX: (610) 519-7889
Office hours: TTh 3:00-4:00, W 9:30-11:00, and by appointment.
- The text
David M. Kroenke and David J. Auer,
Concepts - 7th Edition, Pearson Prentice Hall, 2015. You may be finding
other editions in some bookstores. Most likely they would be OK, but you
might need to adjust some page numbers.
covering most of the first five chapters.
Don't be intimidated by the authors' hints
that they're preparing you for a career as a database
professional. You don't need to shoot that high: you'll be fine.
- Other references: There's a ton both of database texts and of online
tutorials for Microsoft Access. Here's another such text.
C. Ricardo and S. Urban, Databases
Illuminated - 3nd Edition, Jones and Bartlett, 2017. This excellent text
includes lab work using Access. It's the source of the "University"
and "MyMusic" databases and related practice work.
- John V. Peterson,
Beginner's Guide to Databases, Que, 2002.
- GRADE COMPONENTS
|3 Hourly Exams x 100 (Feb 16, Mar 28, May 4)
Quizzes on Reading
Team Intro, Mid Writeup and Final Writeup
The Rest of the Team Project
|Other (class participation, eg)
- FINAL GRADE SCALE
Besides your college's attendance policy for first-year students,
you are specifically required to be in class for all examinations and
presentations. And of course you are responsible for everything that
goes on in classes that you miss (including important announcements),
whether the absence is "excused" or not.
Also, there will be a fair number
of in-class graded labs (10-15 such sessions) and quizzes (6-10).
I won't be able to administer
makeups on these. Although I'll drop the lowest grade or two,
absences could therefore still harm your overall grade. And be careful
about those dropped grades: two of those dropped grades would even apply
to such absences as illness and varsity games.
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
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
Our graduate assistant will be able to assist you with any
challenges related to such version changes.
- online tutorials.
- our textbook. Towards the end of each chapter, there's a section
on what they call the Access Workbench.
We'll be approaching things a little differently,
but it's still a good supplement.
- people: the course TA, me, UNIT education people, and
various gurus you might know.
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
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.
The TA for this course is Ms Sailaja Chagarlamudi (email: email@example.com).
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.
The department also has a "peer tutoring" system, where
students who've taken particular courses can help field
questions about them. See this site
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.
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
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 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
firstname.lastname@example.org. For physical access or temporary
disabling conditions, please contact the Office of Disability Services at
610-519-4095 or email Stephen.email@example.com. Registration is
needed in order to receive accommodations.
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
You should also familiarize yourself
with the details that you can find on these sites:
department's academic integrity overview page
department's academic integrity policy
Finally, you might also want to take a look at the
ACM Code of Ethics and
Note: These links are being updated (eg, to be consistent with the most
recent edition of our text).
- Unit 1: Chapters 1-2
- Unit 2: Chapter 3
- Unit 3: Chapters 4-5
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