Student feedback 2004
In the Friday lecture before the midsession break, I gave you all the
opportunity to give me feedback on the course. Here is a summary
of the feedback I received, with my responses.
(Note: you can always e-mail me if you have additional comments during
Weekly assignments are a good idea, and are relevant.
Yes, I agree. Computing is one area
where it is absolutely essential to get hands-on experience.
I wish the assignments were better defined so that we knew exactly what
to do to achieve maximum marks.
The slight vagueness in the
assignments is intentional. There is no "correct" answer for an
assignment. Since the assignments are worth so much of the course's
assessment, I need to structure them so that the full range of scores
are exercised: i.e, you should be able to pass an assignment (5/10) by
doing a fairly minimal amount of work to satisfy the bare minimum
requirement; however, if you want to achieve a mark in the
Distinction/High-Distinction range (8-10/10) then you will have to be
Tutorials, computer labs
It would be nice to have a computer lab that we could use.
There is the Microcomputer Lab on the
first floor of the Newton Building.
It would be nice to have a tutor. It would be good to have tutorials
I agree, and will see what I can do.
Notes on the web are very good.
Notes on the web are not very helpful.
Yes, I can see that they do have
deficiencies. I am trying to improve them, and would welcome specific
suggestions. Note that there are other resources that you can use
(e.g., textbooks, other on-line notes).
The online notes are hard to find.
Yes, this was a deliberate decision
since I didn't want web-crawlers to track them down while I was
creating the notes. I will ask the Physics web-guru to make a prominent
The online notes are a bit difficult to quickly browse for relevant
Yes, they are getting a bit unwieldy.
I will see what I can do.
It is hard to determine from the notes what we are meant to know.
You should know everything apart from
the text that is in the lilac
An accurate description of each week's content would be great.
The online notes list the content of last year's lectures.
Yes, I have been meaning to do this,
but haven't kept a good record of each lecture. Could someone who has
such a record please see me?!
It would be nice to have more example programs (e.g., put all the
programs that are developed in lectures on-line).
OK, I will see what I can do to
increase the number of examples.
Notes on arrays are too short.
Yes, I agree, will remedy.
The first few weeks moved very slowly.
Yes, but this was essential to cope
with the wide variety of computing familiarity amongst the students. In
2003 I skipped over bits, bytes, hexadecimal, etc, and some students
were left behind.
Lectures could do with more structure. Lectures jump around a lot.
Yes, I agree that there are
deficiencies here. I will try to improve.
Too much assumed knowledge. Those with previous knowledge have a
Certainly, if you have a lot of C
programming experience, you will find the first half of the course very
easy. But this is true of any course (e.g., if you have a lot of
experience with advanced quantum mechanics, you will find such courses
quite easy). There is not much I can do about this. We don't have
the flexibility of having two courses: one for those with no
programming experience, and one for those with lots of experience. The
idea behind this course is to bring everyone up to a minimum level of
Explanations in lectures are good.
The course seems to be largely on computing, why can't we do some
Unfortunately, it is difficult to
move directly into physics applications without spending a considerable
amount of time on learning the fundamentals of computing. In 2nd
session and in subsequent years you will be able to use your computing
ability for other courses.
Real-world applications are interesting, but it would be nice to have
some outside the astronomy field.
Yes, astronomy is obviously my own
personal bias. I would welcome suggestions for specific areas of
physics that you would be interested in exploring.
I like the Antarctic stuff.
Wireless access in the lecture room would be nice.
Sorry, I can't do anything about that.