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T-61.271 > Course survey

Course survey

We asked those who participated the 13 December 2001 exam to fill in a survey form.

Thanks for all of you who took the time to fill in the form.

Summary of the feedback

13 students returned the survey form. The medians of answers are written in strong font, with minimum and maximum given in parenthesis (min/max).

  • How important are the following in understanding the course? (on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being "could do without" and 5 being "very important")
    • lectures 4 (2/5)
    • solving exercises 2 (1/5)
    • exercise sessions 3 (1/5)
    • lecture slides 5 (4/5)
    • literature 2 (1/4)
    • communication with fellow students 2 (1/4)
    • others: visualization project, WWW
  • What grade would you give to the following? (on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being "bad", 3 being "satisfactory" and 5 being "excellent")
    • lectures 4 (2/5)
    • exercise sessions 4 (3/5)
    • lecture slides 4 (4/5)
    • literature 3 (1/4)
    • external conditions (lecture rooms, equipment, ...) 4 (2/5)
    • the course as a whole 4 (3/5)
  • How many study credits should the students be awarded for passing the course (you'll get three)? 3 (1/3)
  • How demanding was the course? (on a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being "too easy", 3 being "about right" and 5 being "too demanding") 3 (2/4)
  • How interesting was the course, as compared to you expectations? (on a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being "not interesting" and 5 being "very interesting") 4 (4/5)

The following questions were answered on a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being "no" and 5 being "yes":

  • Have you attended to the first two years' mathematics courses (or equivalent)? 5 (1/5)
  • This course was held in English. Did this cause difficulties in understanding the course? 2 (1/4)
  • Do you feel that you have learned the topics discussed in the course? 4 (4/5)
  • Do you think the things you have learned will be of use to you in the future? 5 (3/5)
  • Have you got a clear picture of which of the topics discussed in the course are useful and important? 4 (2/5)
  • Did the course have a good atmosphere? 4 (3/5)
  • Have we made a clear difference between relevant and irrelevant? 4 (3/5)
  • Have also difficult things been presented understandably? 4 (2/5)
  • Have the students been encouraged to think independently and critically? 4 (3/5)
  • Did the different parts of the course (lectures, exercises, ...) support each other well? 4 (3/5)

In addition we asked some more general questions. You can find summary of the feedback below.

  • What was best in the course?

    Many said that the demos and examples given during the lectures were one of the best parts of the course. According to major portion of comments the choice of topics was to the right direction and the lectures apparently succeeded in giving a good picture of these ideas. Also the course material, visit to the virtual environment and the exercise session gathered positive feedback.

  • What was the worst weakness?

    There was no single major weakness. Different students raised different points, which are summarized below.

    One drawback was the literature: there is no single good book on the topics covered by the course (there are three official books). The lecture slides do not really replace a good book.

    The time of lectures was a bit too late in the afternoon (16-18 o'clock). One could still fine-tune the topics of the lectures and try to link the topics exercise problems and lectures more closely together. And this course contained quite a lot new terminology. Some people had had problems with the WWW access to the lecture slides.

    The project work could also be described in more detailed manner than just by a title.

  • How would you develop the course in the future?

    The visualization projects should have better instructions. One could develop the lectures by reducing the content and terminology, and by fine-tuning the topics. The access to WWW slides could be enhanced e.g. by using password protection (the students would be given user name and password, now the slides could be downloaded only from within the HUT.FI netblock).

  • The required prior knowledge was listed to be "first two years' mathematics courses". Was this exaggerated? Or should we list some other prerequisite knowledge? Any other comments?

    The required prior knowledge was, in majority's opinion, more or less ok. If something, one might not need the full two years' math studies. Some people suggested that we would require also knowledge of principles of programming or first two years physics courses. In summary, this course - being a post-graduate course - is not best suited for first year students.

Comments of the feedback

The feedback was overall quite positive. The students gave the lectures, exercise sessions and the lecture slides an average score of 4, or something between "satisfactory" and "excellent". The course as a whole got the same good evaluation. The the topics were deemed interesting and useful and they were apparently presented well. Almost everybody thought that the things they have learned will be useful for them in the future. It is nice to hear that all the effort has been worth something.

But one can always do better. There are some things that we can do little about, like the time of the lectures or lack of a good and single course book. Below is summarized how we can and will develop the course in the future:

This year we gave the students a list of titles of visualization projects and briefly explained them. They chose a title, after which they would write a project plan which we would review and approve. The students could also suggest a topic of their own. We plan give the requirements for the individual projects in writing in the future courses.

The exercise sessions got a good grade, but the attendance was poor, desite of the fact that attending the exercise sessions clearly helped in the exam. The students could even raise their grade by one point by solving the the exercise problems diligently. The opinion of the importance of the exercise sessions in understanding the course varied a lot: some thought that they are unnecessary, while others thought that the exercise sessions are very important for understanding the course. One thing that we could do something about is that this year the exercise problems were not given before the same topics were discussed in the lectures. This was mainly because this is a new course: the lectures and their exact contents were uncertain even to the lecturer until the day of lectures. In the future courses we plan to give the exercise problems well in advance of the lectures and, if necessary, combine several exercise sessions into one (some topics don't have that many problems). We may also require a minimal participation to the exercise sessions. We hope that this will make solving and attending the exercise sessions more rewarding.

The lectures got also a good grade. I will try to develop the contents of the lectures further and I will make sure that all concepts will be understood proprely, as suggested by some comments.

We will also make the lecture slides available for ordering in the future courses. This should make obtaining the slides easier for everyone. (This year the copies were distributed in the lectures and they were also available from a WWW page.)

I think that the current prerequisites (first two years' mathematics courses) are fine. We will consider whether we should add a mention of basic programming skills (which may be needed in the visualization projects).

Monday, 21-Jan-2002 13:23:17 EET