Euro Summer School
Observation and Data reduction with the Very Large Telescope Interferometer

4-16 June 2006, Goutelas (France)
EUROPEAN HIGH LEVEL SCIENTIFIC CONFERENCE, Supported by EC contract n° MSCF-CT-2005 - 029954

Feedback from the school

 

We have performed a poll among the participants of the school. The answer to the poll could be anonymous if wanted. We received a total of 26 answers from students, 3 from lecturers and 11 from anonymous participants.

We have submitted 25 questions with 3 possible marks: bad (mark=0.0), average/appropriate (mark=0.5) and good (mark=1.0). The results are displayed below with the averaged marks for the different areas tested:

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Feedback from participants

We also received several comments:
-  Accomodation: The accessibility was the less rated among the different criteria. Several participants complained about the difficulty to reach the school location and the fact thet it was too far from "civilization", but some others liked it very much (definitely worth the trip). People would have liked to have easier phone connection. The lodging was found cosy & charming place but a little bit too spartiate with often 2 persons sharing the same room and especially for those who had to take showers in common bathroom. The food with wine was found excellent even if more variety in food would have been welcome. Some suggested that we could save much more time if meals were served as a buffet instead of the the typical long-stretched rhythm of the French way of lunch and dinner. Many of the participants liked the chateau but found the the room very hot and the ventilation was very poor.
Some particular comments:

-  Programme: The less rated items is the programme level found several times a little bit too high. As a whole the programme is well revised and organized. Especially, the balance between lectures and practice sessions are in good harmony. Some evn thought that it is absolutely relevant for people beginning in interferometry. About the completeness, someone would have find few acadamic exercices helpful, whereas many others found the lectures were highly complete. However, more data reduction practices with more various data and detail handouts can be more useful for getting the real sense of interferometry. About the class types, the concept of morning courses and afternoon practice sessions should be kept, but tutorials should be a bit less theoretic and more related with the practice sessions. Several of the participants pointed out that maybe it would be better to have even more practice sessions. About the levels of the lectures and sessions, we got several opinions: ery well dosed level of difficulty: challenging, but not overstraining, or appropriate and good, sometimes maybe a little too hard during the first week, and finally some theoretical lectures were full of formulae and equasions and thus difficult to follow unless I really really concentrated on listening.
Some particular comments:

-  Presentations: It seems that a genearl feeling is that the lectures were too long: some break between classes that were too long and complex would have been nice., one should put at least one small break within the two-hour morning lectures,... Many of the participants thought that the overall quality of the lectures was very high in my opinion. About the relevance, most courses were excellent, but [they] would have preferred to have more practice on modelling & reducing the data.
Some specific comments:

-  Lecturers: most of the lectures were found clear, and the availability of the presentations for download is a good thing to re-check some issues. It seems that many of the students liked to have some redundancies and therefore the summary at the end of the first wekk was very much appreciated even at a late hour... Some thinks that it will be better to use the blackboard for important things. If it’s only on slides, it is usually very fast and it’s difficult to understand it and to put it together with other things. Although there was no doubts that the level of expertise was there, it seems that expertise is one thing, experience of teaching classes successfully was less clear to some of the participants! People were pleased with the availability of the lecturers because the lecturers stayed for a few days which was very good!. Somebody pointed out that coffee breaks and evening sessions were very good in this respect. However several lecturers did not stay long after their talks.
some specific comments:

-  Practice sessions: In general, the students were very happy with the practical session, even if due to some technical problems some of the practice session were of awerage quality. Some noticed that the pressure about the preparartion of these sessions and recommended to only use data sets that have been tested before to work and to only use reduction software versions that have been tested before to work! Very good advice, indeed! However as stated by somebody without it, the learning curve and effort to enter the subject by yourself would be much steeper. Generally, participants request also more time for practical sessions. Also several persons requested that we use programmes that could be available for use afterwards. The less advanced users found that the practical sessions were very difficult, but thanks the people who answered all our question, it was possible to do, whereas some advanced users said that it could have been a bit more difficult with a bit of time with software just to play around. Can it be summarized as: some sessions were relatively difficult but we could get enough supports from staff by asking questions to overcome them? About equipments, everybody seems to be happy with the laptops and server apart from some incidents, even if the connection was slow. More wifi accessibility would have been welcome! Support was judged good although not enough available because of many participants who need a help of different levels. However all the staffs were very kind and quickly helped [the students] when [they] needed helps or asked questions.
A lot of specific comments:

-  Projects: After the practical sessions which gave rise to many comments, this is the time of the personal projects. As said by someone: it’s very good to be left on your own to figure out how to do all the necessary steps. Also many of the participants agreed to say it is very useful to start thinking by yourself. The usefulness of this part of school got almost the highest rank! However it is also because the most useful were the comments of the experienced part of the audience at the time of projects presentation which made the projects a kind of a rehearsal of real ones. Opinions about durations vary between long enough and too short, but this is less true than for practical session. Feedback from experts was found adequate and useful by mots of the participants.
Some specific comments:

-  Miscellaneaous: