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
- 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
- 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, ...)
- 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")
- 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?
- 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?
- Have also difficult things been presented understandably?
- 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
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
Monday, 21-Jan-2002 13:23:17 EET