Monday, August 30, 2021

Novices and Their SQL Misconceptions

     Do yourself a favor and spend ten minutes watching this video on the CER2021 paper Identifying SQL Misconceptions of Novices: Findings from a Think-Aloud study.  Structured Query Language is hard for many new programmers as it is a declarative language which makes it much different that the object orientated or procedural languages with which they started their software journeys. 

    The authors have categories problems in four general misconceptions programmers have -- Previous Knowledge, Generalization, Language, and Bad Mental Model. Those are then refined more and I am sure anyone who has to fix poor queries will immediately recognize. 

    Why novices should read this:  Structured Query Language or SQL is a lot different than other languages and its logic is designed around data sets.  The assumptions you bring in from other languages can hinder your developing SQL skills.   The syntax and keywords are not what you are used to and frankly things about data groups instead of one row of data can be hard for some to master.  This video and the paper will help you hurdle those knowledge gaps.

    Why SQL professional should read this:  After you have mastered SQL, it is easy to forget the points that you stumbled over learning it.  it will also help you identify where your journals flounder so that hopefully you can aid them.

A few times each week I run across someone asking why SQL is 'so weird', where is the '' or while (...) flow control, or why you can not have a table of tables pointing to other tables.  MySQL is a very easy database to learn but there is still a learning curve and trying to make it act like other software many not work.

So a big round of applause to the authors : Daphne Miedema, Efthimia Aivaloglou and George Fletcher.