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ERIC Number: EJ1031019
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 11
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 15
ISSN: ISSN-1055-3096
An Experimental Investigation of Complexity in Database Query Formulation Tasks
Casterella, Gretchen Irwin; Vijayasarathy, Leo
Journal of Information Systems Education, v24 n3 p211-221 Fall 2013
Information Technology professionals and other knowledge workers rely on their ability to extract data from organizational databases to respond to business questions and support decision making. Structured query language (SQL) is the standard programming language for querying data in relational databases, and SQL skills are in high demand and are taught in most introductory database courses. We examined students' performance on query formulation tasks, in an experimental setting which varied the complexity of the query and the ambiguity of the information request. Our results confirm the main effects of query complexity and request ambiguity found in prior studies (Borthick et al. 2001). In addition, we found an interaction effect between complexity and ambiguity, namely that low ambiguity is more important as tasks increase in complexity. We also found that students' confidence with entity-relationship diagrams corresponds to reduced time spent on query formulation, and their ability to evaluate the accuracy of their queries reduces as query complexity increases. We discuss the implications of these findings with some suggestions for future research.
Journal of Information Systems Education. e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A