Teaching Physical Database Design

  • Karen C. DavisEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 11158)


Database design is traditionally taught as a process where requirements are captured in a conceptual model, then forward engineered into a logical model, followed by implementation in a physical model. Conceptual models are intended to be abstract and platform-independent, thus expressing aspects of the application being modeled without narrowing the design choices prematurely. The early stages of the process are more established in pedagogy, while the last stage, physical design, seems largely unexplored in the computing education literature. Moreover, if the choice for the logical model is relational, there are several possible implementation models; the design space widens again after the phase of transforming a conceptual model into a logical model. This paper explores teaching students about the design space for physical modeling. The contents of learning modules on physical design are presented, including scaffolding of technical content in an abstract (conceptual) manner, followed by connection to real-world analogues, culminating in a project that requires application of conceptual knowledge to explore the impact of physical design alternatives. The achievement of learning outcomes with and without the final project is assessed for courses taught in two consecutive academic terms. Future areas of research are discussed, such as expanding and refining the physical design space, the student preparation, and the types of impact investigated.


Teaching database design Physical design Index selection Cost models 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Computer Science and Software Engineering DepartmentMiami UniversityOxfordUSA

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