Guided entity relationship modelling within a simulation of a real world context
This thesis examines the contribution of a guided discovery learning approach within a simulated real world context to learning. In order to consider the potential of this approach, a database design task is chosen (Storey & Goldstein, 1993) which requires the learner to capture the semantics of the domain application in a real world situation and then translate this into a data model for the database management system. This approach to learning has advantages since simulating a real world system in a classroom can be a very difficult and time-consuming activity. The aims of the thesis is, therefore, to investigate the possibility of simulating real world situation for gathering database requirements and a teaching strategy that is suitable for this real world situation context. In order to reach the research goal, two main research questions need to be answered. Firstly, to what extent can a simulation of a real world situation improve the quality of learning in the database design area? Secondly, the extent to which a guided discovery teaching strategy can enhance the learning of database design within such a (simulated) real world context? A framework for simulating the real world situation and guided discovery strategies had been designed in order to implement four versions of a prototype systems called GERM for evaluation in order to answer the research questions. The main results obtained from a small group of learners and lecturers indicates that the potential of guided discovery learning within a real world context can improve the quality of learning in database design - in particular entity relationship modelling. Amongst other advantages, it can help students to change their basic misconceptions. Furthermore, it also can improve students' skills in a real world situation. The promising results suggest further lines of research.