The Importance of Learning to Identify Relationships and Entities.{1}

by Kevin Q
The peer-reviewed journal I read discussed reasons that students have trouble grasping and learning data modeling. The main reason being that students have a hard time identifying the relationships among the entities, and not so much in how to express the relationships. Students who do not learn how to identify relationships and thus create them in their data models will eventually run into problems due to poor data modeling.Typical mistakes that Dr. Watson has seen in his years of teaching include: “Not recognizing that an attribute is an entity, failing to generalize several entities as a single entity, not reading relationships both ways, and ignoring exception that result in a failure to represent reality.” Students who are good at identifying relationships are better off than student who can create diagram representations but unfortunately cannot interpret the relationships and entities. Watson then goes over on how he chooses a representation of data modeling. He bases it on two factors: something that is able to be quickly sketched on the front board in class, and something that students will be able to understand and emulate through SQL statements. Watson then goes on to his teaching method of “integrated spiral approach,” which means that he teaches data modeling and SQL side by side so that the students can make the connection and begin to see the connections between the two as opposed to the general teaching of data modeling followed by SQL. In the end, Watson says that its not how you represent the final data model, but that the data model grasps the true nature of the project.

I find this article to be related to class because as we struggle and learn through examples given in class and in our book, we are gradually being able to identify the relationships and entities in a given problem. Being able to identify the relationships and entities is just as important if not more than being able to represnt it in a diagram. Watson’s teaching methods seem undestandable and it makes me curious as to how well we will be able to learn data modeling and then SQL. Hopefully we all can gain the knowledge and understanding needed from this class to advance in our careers and future.

This article really does hit home in the sense that we really do need to do our best to learn how to create data models since it is our foundation for our upcoming projects. I know that I already need a bit more practice and hope that I will fully grasp the skills to create a data model correctly with as little error as possible.


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