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:
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:
- It was a great idea to keep us all together like that. It encourage us to get to know each other better, and there were no distractions like ski resorts to keep us from going to class.
- It was very convenient that each participant had access to a laptop practically at any time.
- Table tennis and table soccer games very very appreciated.
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:
- The school was and should continue to be the European counterpart to the "Michelson Summer School"! Although follow-up schools (science and modelling) are planned, a school teaching the basic concepts should be established!
- The school helped me to obtain the basic overview about interferometry. I think, I’ll use obtained knowledges in my work.
- Paulo Garcia’s talks were the "dot on the i" that made an excellent programme perfect!
- I found the balance [of class types] very good. I would not insist too much though on tutorials that explain what we are supposed to test by ourselves in practical sessions. It was early afternoons, and I just wanted to go and see by myself.
- Nice balance between all. Although at the end of the day, i was a bit too tired to listen to the seminars (the first week)
- It is a complex subject.. but the lecturers were very good and the notes were excellent. Chris Haniff’s lectures were extremely important as a basis for interferometry... i would suggest spending even a little more time on that.
- For me the lectures were OK, but the hand-outs, descriptions and manuals for the practice session were very incomplete, thus the practice sessions were a bit difficult...
- Participants of the school could be divided into "beginners" and "intermediates" (who had experience) so during the practice sections have to take it into account.
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:
- The first morning lectures were too long. Breack should be introduced in order to keep people concentrated.
- There was some discussion whether such an in-depth introduction is necessary. I would strongly opt to keep that thoroughfully treatment of these basics in. This school might be one of the rare chances to catch this.
- Very well selected speakers and state-of-the-art reviews of interferometric techniques, problems and results. Excellent!
- The two contributions by Chr. Haniff were very fluent and profound. Also the smaller contributions on new research results did very well. However, if such talks are delivered after 6 p.m., they should be limited to 45 min.
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:
- Lecture contents were proportionaly nice, but the presentations of some needs a bit of improvements. The drawback is too much concentration in equation details where you loose the point of whole lecture (especially during second week).
- One can probably argue about the time of the 1.week-summary lecture of Guy Perrin, but I enjoyed it very much. For me it is always useful to get exposed to certain ideas and concepts from different viewing angles and more than once. So this talk was a good repitition.
- Some lecturers gave too many formulas and details that didn’t clear up lectures but rather make it complicate for understanding.
- Their voices were loud and articulate enough to understand. Although some lecturers had strong accents when they spoke English, it was not so critical and I could understand most parts of their talks.
- I was really impressed by the quality of the lectures! 90% of the lectures have been extremely clear and interesting presented. I learned a lot.
- An excellent balance of lecturers, I liked very much the presence of US and European experts.
- Some web-sites (for example ESO, etc.) have detailed instructions that can be avaiable to anyone who will be interested in deeper information. So lecturer can give few(!) links to these documents. A very good idea to give several links to certain lectures before next School in Final announcement and participants can prepare to it.
- Most of the class was full of active discussion and questions. Lecturers kindly tried to answer as many questions as possible.
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:
- Practice sessions are necessary to understand both selection of targets and data reduction. More time could be spent on modelling the data. It would also be great if the packages proposed are the ones that are available.
- I think it would be good to close the practical sessions with a kind of 15 min summary to collect the most important points. Otherwise, one works during the long afternoon session on the data and the questions, but it is sometimes not fully clear if one has reached the right conclusions, especially when additional questions in the accompanying material are being put like a quiz.
- One could think about extending the practical work on data to two afternoons per instrument (MIDI/AMBER). Then one could use the first afternoon to also shown the basic steps of the data reduction live on screen with a benign data set, and everybody can do the steps also on his/her laptop and get a feeling for it. On the second afternoon, one could then work on a more challenging dat set, which would then probably induce further questions ...
- Handout material for MIDI data reduction and model fitting were less organized, a little hard to understand (especially for IDL beginners), and contained some misprint. Any other material was fine.
- Week 1 I found very productful. :) Week 2 was a bit frustrating . most of the following comments refer to week 2: I found the introductory lectures to the practice session irrelevant. It would be much better for them to go through briefly what the exercise is supposed to teach us. E.g. a couple of times i found myself wasting too much time on paticular questions that turned out to be not so important. Ideal Talk: 1. Brief summary of the exercises 2. Quick overview of using the program (although most of the stuff is written on the paper anyway) — not more than 15 minutes and upstairs in front of the computers.
- It wasn’t a good idea to select a random day and donwload all MIDI and AMBER data from that day, and give them to the participants, to see what can they do with it. For the data reduction session, it would have been good to get very good-quality data first, which the tutors know well, and they can check if the participants do the data reduction correctly, or no.
- "model fitting day" has to be improved both for lectures (which were partly non understandable) and for practice session where we used LITpro software merely as a blackbox. In my sense this part is crucial in interferometry. Two days over 12 would not have been too much to get hands on it.
- the support was generally good for the pratical seesions, but during he personal projects time it was often difficult to find the appropriate people.
- The quality was good but there was not enough people to answer and help all the students.
- I would like to thank all people who take care of us during practice. They helped us very much.
- The support were "on top of things" for the hardware/software problems. I never had to wait more than 2/3 minutes for someone to attend my question.
- Unfortunately the practice sessions haven’t been as clear presented as the lectures. A more extended and more structured handout would have been useful, too. Especially because the introductions/manuals to the MIDI and AMBER data reduction software packages are pretty short.
- It was not always clear to me after the introduction in the practice session what exactly we should do in the afternoon. A few pages with the general idea of the data reduction and the basic commands in a table format [man pages] instead of having them in the text would enable one to find the way without asking all the time for help. I am aware of the fact that is extremely difficult to make a good practice session.
- A real problem was that there has been no discussion about the outcome of the practice sessions, i.e. whether the found answers (although mostly too obvious) are correct!
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:
- These projects were good opportunities for us to apply what we learned from lectures and practice sessions. They helped us to deepen our knowledge of VLTI and to communicate with classmates. Also, they were good practices for oral presentation.
- Unfortunately, for me it was somehow difficult to find people working with me, so I worked alone most of the time, and I missed very much the teamwork and the feedback from the tutors and from the participants.
- If I had to formulate one major goal of this School, it would be "To Learn How To Make A Personal Project".
- The tutors were extremely helpful, but were contradicting each other. This was frustrating. Data reduction became a matter of opinion!
- Posters: mixed feelings...
- Poster sessions were most useful in getting acquainted with each others’ field of interest.
- I would like to hear more things about "what" and "why" of the poster topics. Maybe 1 minute talk is not enough...
- It was useful because I could check what a certain participant was doing and with who he/she was working, any time during the school.
- I think it would be better if we had some more wide spaces to put posters.
- The poster-session felt "artificial", because many non-interferometric results have been presented!
- Pop-up session: mixed feelings too...
- Very useful, especially the ability to present the posters in 1 minute with one slide.
- Another exercise to practise giving a talk; good to have an overview of what other people are presenting.
- It was a good opportunity for us to understand what other participants study and are interested in. One minutes were a little short. Three minutes talk would be appropriate time length.
- Very good for getting the people to know each other.
- The poster pop-up session was a very good idea, it was useful to break the barriers between the participants.
- A good idea, but perhaps a little rushed for comfort.
- Poster pop-up session can be divided into several groups connected to certain topic of day as an short addition to lectures and practice. It can be as an example from people who have already done projects similar to practice section or have intention to do it.
- Possibly could have been improved if the session had been agreed upon before the school began so thta presneters would have had more time to prepare.