An approach of learning database modeling

by Phuong H
In the article “The Essential Skills of Data Modeling,” the author mentions that “the purpose of database modeling is to capture reality” therefore, it is more important for designer to understand the business concept rather than focusing on designing the model. It is because they can have a really nice database model but the important is can it be used to answer a business question, like the author stated “a model that fails to represent reality is likely to fail at some point because a client’s question cannot be converted to SQL” (Watson, 2006). Furthermore, the way you represent the model is not important the key is that the model can capture the reality (Watson, 2006).  The author also mentions a few errors that student usually make when they learning about database modeling: “not recognizing that an attribute is an entity, failing to generalize several entities as a single entity, not reading relationship both way, ignoring exceptions that result in a failure to represent reality” (Watson, 2006). The author proposed that integrating SQL while teaching database modeling will help the student learn better because they can see how SQL related to database modeling.

I learned how to design a database model in my accounting class and I agreed with the author that the most challenging in designing a model is to capture the business rules and its exception. It is really important to include the exception because without the exception, the model will fails to answer some of the business question. I also think that it is easier to draw out the model on paper before working on the software.


Richard, T. W. (2006). The essential skills of data modeling. Journal of Information Systems Education, 17(1), 39-41. Retrieved from

2 thoughts on “An approach of learning database modeling

  • October 6, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    Interesting viewpoint to keep in mind. It appears that this author is promoting the use of the Agile system development to be sure all the business needs and questions are covered. While we are still learning the basics at this point, it is a good idea to try to weave the business perspective in with the SQL. I guess we’ll see how it turns out in this class.

    On a side note, how did you manage to learn database design in an accounting class?! Maybe I should’ve paid more attention… =)

  • October 7, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    This is definitely a different way to think about it but so true! If you do not understand what the businesses needs are then there is no way you can possibly design an efficient database for them. Great developers will make sure they fully understand what the needs of the business are before creating a model and before designing. As far as the student errors go I’m sure we will all make these mistakes and hopefully learn from them.

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