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Educational Computing in the Electronic Age
Dr. Jerry P. Galloway
Activity Sheet
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Database Activities
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Return to Database Ch. 4
HERE
Return to Activity Contents
HERE

I. Student Database ---II. Mail Merge -A ---III. Mail Merge -B ---IV. DB Learning Activity ---V. Sorts and Subtotals in Excel


I. Student Database

In this activity, you are to create a database of ficticious student information. Your instructor will direct you to use either a specific database program such as Ms.Access or perhaps a spreadsheet such as Excel.

You should setup intelligent and useful fields to accommodate the following information for at least 20 records:

Design and turn in 3 reports:
  1. the complete database - all records, all fields
  2. a limited report based on "filtered" criteria for their extracurricular activities.
  3. the same- a limited report based on "filtered" criteria for their medical situation.
The two limited reports will include only those records that meet the specified criteria.  Ask your instructor whether the complete database (#1) or all three might be submitted electronically, on disk or on paper hardcopy.


 

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II. Mail Merge - A   (see III. Mail Merge - B below)

Use the student database created in activity I. above.  If you haven't created that database, you'll have to do so for this activity.  As directed above, ask your instructor whether the database is to be done in a database program like Ms.Access or instead in a spreadsheet program like Excel.

Write a 1-page business "form" letter to your students (in the database).  Be sure to customize the content and appearance of the form letter making it appear as if the letter was unique and personalized to each recipient.

Merge the form letter with the filtered database targeting students on the basis of their age.  Filter the data set so that only 3-4 records are selected.  Merge the form letter for only those records.  You will turn in (a) a copy of the limited, filtered database (only the records for the merge); and (b) the 3-4 letters following the merge process.  Ask your instructor whether you are expected to turn in hardcopy printouts or instead to submit the database and merged letters files electronically or on disk.

You might first wish to review procedures and issues for doing a mail merge.  If you wish, you can jump to that information HERE and return to this assignment later.


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III. Mail Merge - B   (see II. Mail Merge - A above)

A hands-on "lab" exercise is already prepared for you (access below).  Read through the material provided and perform the tasks described.  It will direct you to write a letter and to setup the mail merge with a database already provided.  The database is in the form of a spreadsheet Excel file called:

MM_INFO.XLS located in the FILES folder.
The "lab" file will direct you through the hands-on activities.  The last page called "Mail Merge Questions" will present several specific tasks to be completed.  You will fill out and turn in that one page from the hands-on "lab" exercise plus the letters and materials those tasks direct you create.

You can access a hands-on "lab" exercise as a Word file....

Two versions are provided:

1.  Use this one if you are using Microsoft Word (Office) XP............................... NEW XP
2.  Use this one if you are using an older version of Word (like 2000 or '97...).... OLDER
You might first wish to review procedures and issues for doing a mail merge.  If you wish, you can jump to that information HERE and return to this assignment later.


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IV. Database Learning Activity

You will create a learning activity involving the use of a database of factual information.

Part A.  This portion of the assignment is designed to provide a database for manipulation in Part B.  Your instructor might direct you to create your own database from scratch or to use one already provided on your CD.

IF you are to create your own database...

Create a database of factual information.  Some may prefer to compile demographic data, information on art, science, geography, history (like U.S. presidents), business or any other topic.  It is assumed that this assignment will involve some library work or the need to consult reference materials of some sort in order to gather and organize the data.  This database is expected to include a large amount of information.

Keeping in mind that this portion is meant to support the activities in the next portion of the assignment, certain suggestions should be noted:

You will need a large number of records.  This will make legitimate comparisons of facts easier.  Many records should share some facts in common.  For example, if every president was from a different state then we couldn't find out what all of the presidents from Indiana have in common.  While it is important to include a large number of records for later reference, it is more important to develop a large number of fields - thus differentiating data items for later comparison and cross-referenced analysis.  Very important:  more information will make this project easier - not harder.

IF you use a database already provided on the CD...

Eight different databases have already been provided on your Textbook CD in the FILES folder.  Most are incomplete but have a Field structure and some data.  A couple are very complete.  They are each provided in 3 different formats:  Ms. Access database, Excel spreadsheet and Lotus 123 spreadsheet.  Obviously, if you use one that's is currently incomplete, you will need to gather the missing information and fully develop the database for use in Part B below.

You can click the last three columns to access the file of choice - or browse to the folder on your own.
Topic
Filename "Stem"
Access DB
Excel SS
Lotus123 SS
Facts on African Countries
AFRICA
.MDB
.XLS
.WK4
Animals' Attributes
ANIMALS
.MDB
.XLS
.WK4
Atlantic States
ATSTATES
.MDB
.XLS
.WK4
Periodic Table
ELEMENTS
.MDB
.XLS
.WK4
Popular Foods
FASTFOOD
.MDB
.XLS
.WK4
Literature Information
LITRTURE
.MDB
.XLS
.WK4
Muscles of the Head
MUSCLES
.MDB
.XLS
.WK4
American Presidents
PRESDNTS
.MDB
.XLS
.WK4


Part B.  In this portion of the assignment you are to create a student learning activity or exercise on the topic contained in the database from Part A.  The activity should be designed to make use of the database file as the source of information for the learning activity.

To help with the context... image that you are teaching a topic that might require your students to visit a library and do some research.  However, instead of sending them to the library, they will access your database - a complete source of information needed for their exercise.  You are permitted to assume that your students know how to use the database, how to use the various features to manipulate the database.  However, just like students may know how to use a library yet not necessarily know which book or article to read, so too do your students know how to use the database features but may not necessarily know which manipulation methods are called for.

The activity can be in the form of a work sheet of questions about the topic, a map exercise may be included, or any other variation you prefer.  Be creative.  The activity must focus on learning about the topic covered by the database (the topic itself).  Be sure you know what you are attempting to teach through your planned activity.

The questions (or activity) should ideally call for more problem-solving skill than simply looking through the listed or printed information.  For example, pretend you have over 10,000 records,...  then how would the question be answered?  Nor should the same inquiry method (e.g., sorting in reverse order or using a particular filter) be applicable to all questions.  Design your activity to encourage more extensive manipulation and exploration of the database.

The real difficulty of this activity is to develop meaningful questions that focus on important relationships in the data.  Recognition or identification of simple facts should probably not be included or only used to introduce areas of further concentration in the activity.  For example, with a database on U.S. presidents, do not ask something like "How many presidents' names start with an H ?"...  Who cares?  What does this teach?  Instead, focus on more important concerns.  Even a question like how many presidents come from Indiana is essentially meaningless.  What difference does it make whether there were two or ten?  Consider a more meaningful inquiry.  For example, do presidents from the midwest tend to have the same prior profession as presidents from New England states and does this vary between the 19th and 20th centuries?

Be sure to use the computer (word proc., etc.) to produce ALL materials for this assignment.  That is, no photocopies or cutouts from books, magazines or other materials are allowed.  Material may of course be scanned into a computer and then included in the materials as desired.

Turn in the following....

  1. a hardcopy of the complete database from Part A.
  2. a blank copy of the learning activity/exercise as students would see it and use it... complete, appropriately formatted and ready to distribute.
  3. a second/duplicate copy of the activity,  BUT... completely filled in just as your students would do it.  Hand-written fill-in where appropriate is expected.  That's what your students would do.  This should serve as your answer key with all of the right answers and proper responses.
  4. Also provide a brief notation in the margin (of the completed copy specified in #3) explaining how each task or question was answered.  That is, what database manipulation was used?
You can print a hardcopy of these # IV instructions provided here as a Word file:   HERE.


 

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V. Sorts and Subtotals in Excel

This is a hands-on "lab" activity in which you will develop subtotals in Excel as well as work on database management using the Excel spreadsheet.  This includes using a "Form View" (single-record display) of database records within the Excel spreadsheet.

Follow the instructions in the guided activity.  Complete and turn in the last page called Spreadsheet Problems.

The file is called SORTFORM.DOC and is located in the WP_FILES folder in the ACTIVITIES folder.

The file can be accessed by clicking  HERE.
 


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Dr. Jerry P. Galloway
iun@jerrygalloway.com