TCB Hands-on Workshop in San Francisco

Evaluation of the Theoretical and Computational Biophysics Workshop in Frankfurt, Germany

Lectures and Tutorials Evaluation

Questionnaire, analysis, and report: David Brandon, Kathryn Walsh and Klaus Schulten, TCB group, UIUC

At the end of each day of the workshop participants were asked to evaluate the workshop's lectures and tutorials.  Rankings of the relevance of the lectures and tutorials were solicited, as were open comments about each lecture and tutorial. Participation in the evaluation was voluntary. 

Click here for the Lectures & Tutorials Feedback Form.

Summaries for the lectures and tutorials are comprised of three elements, 1) the proportion rating the relevance of the lecture or tutorial as highly relevant (i.e. 'very good' + 'excellent' ratings; see Table 1: Summary of Relevance Statistics below) and 2) select comments considered illustrative of respondent opinion, and 3) text summarizing the main points of the total body of comments for a lecture or tutorial.  As is frequently the case with surveys, not all respondents answered all questions; the number of responses for the relevance ratings (r=) and comments (c=) are listed next to the name of each lecture and tutorial summary, e.g. (N: r=34, c=8).

Some issues to consider when reading the comments: 

  • Written comments, particularly when comments are extreme in one direction or the other, tend to stick in one's head more so than statistics that may present a more accurate summary of opinion.
  • There may not be enough comments to provide a sample size that can be considered representative of the entire workshop population; e.g. for one lecture there are two comments.  Further, those responding are self-selected, i.e. those who went through with completing the evaluation form may or may not be representative of a 'typical' attendee. 
  • Due to varying backgrounds, education, and experiences, for any lecture or tutorial there was likely always someone new to the topic who needed more time, help and explanation, and at the same time someone very experienced who wanted more breadth and/or depth on the topic.

Summaries are organized below by day, lecture, and tutorial, and can be located using the navigation table below or by scrolling down the page.

Day Lecture Tutorial
Day 1 Introduction to Protein Structure and Dynamics VMD Tutorial
Day 2 Statistical Mechanics of Proteins NAMD Tutorial
Day 3 Introduction to Bioinformatics Evolution of Protein Structure
Day 4 Simulating Membrane Channels Simulating Nanotubes and Stretching Deca-alanine Tutorials

Day 1

Day 1 Lecture: Molecular Graphics and Molecular Dynamics (N: r=24, c=14)

Most respondents, 84%, rated the lecture as highly relevant.  Sample comments are:

  • "I thought the lecture was really easy to understand and a very exciting program."
  • "Excellent overview of software and its capabilities.  Hopefully good for tomorrow."

While comments tend to have in common an appreciation of the introductory aspects of the lecture, there were suggestions that the lecture was too basic or that some areas could be covered faster.

Day 1 Tutorial: VMD/Molecular Graphics (N: r=24, c=15)

A majority of respondents, 92%,  found the tutorial content highly relevant.  Sample comments are:

  • "I think the tutorial covered many interesting features of the program and was in general very well prepared."
  • "Very nice and helpful assistants. Good concept even for autodidactic learning."

Compliments on the tutorials are mostly directed to the helpful teaching assistants, and to the introductory nature of the tutorial.

Day 2

Day 2 Lecture: Equilibrium/Nonequilibrium Properties of Proteins (N: r=24, c=10)

At a 79% relevance rating, most respondents found the lecture content to be highly relevant.  Sample comments are:

  • "Very nice lecture for beginners.  Truly Professor Schulten is giving lecture in a pedagogical manner and understandable way.  Maybe more small examples would help us to grasp the ideas more.  Thank you!"
  • "Very straight forward. Maybe it would be helpful to get the slides as handouts (or available beforehand on website)"

Complimentary comments are mixed with a suggestion for a section on parameterization, and a comment that the lecture would be difficult for someone without the correct background.

Day 2 Tutorial: NAMD/Molecular Dynamics Tutorial (N: r=25, c=8)

Nearly all respondents, 88%, rated the tutorial relevance as very high.  Sample comments are:

  • "Quite good. It gets better every day… nice competent help!."
  • "This tutorial is very extensive."

Suggestions included shortening the tutorial, that some steps became repetitive, and that more on scripting be added.

Day 3

Day 3 Lecture:  Introduction to Bioinformatics (N: r=13, c=2)

A majority of respondents, 69%, rated the relevance of the lecture as very high.  Sample comments are:

  • "Good coverage of whole area"
  • "Always had been wondering why there were no classes on Sequence Alignments and Sequence-Databases. Thank you. Very helpful."

As above, those making comments were appreciative of the lecture.

Day 3 Tutorial: Evolution of Protein Structure (N: r=25, c=13)

The rated relevance of the tutorials was high, with a relevance rating from respondents of 76% for the evolution of protein structure tutorial.  Sample comments are:

  • "Nice tutorial for assessive power of structural bioinformatics.  Excellent assistance from 'tutorial assistants'."
  • "Again, very clear and well-written tutorial, well chosen example."

Along with complements, specific comments about concerns or problems with the tutorial or multiseq tool used for the tutorial were also provided, such as problems distinguishing domain coloring, or that the tutorial was too long or might be difficult for those without the proper background.

Day 4

Day 4 Lecture: Simulating Membrane Channels (N: r=16, c=13)

Nearly all respondents - 89% - rated the lecture as highly relevant to their interests.  Sample comments are:

  • "Excellent lecture. Learned a lot about the basics. As a complete laboratory scientist this was extremely useful to me."
  • "Excellent lecture. Good overview of MD and practical considerations. Good to include topology and parameter part!"

Comments are almost uniformly positive, with a few comments that the lecture went too fast or was short.

Day 4 Tutorials: Simulating Nanotubes; Stretching Deca-Alanine (N: r=16, c=10; r=16, c=9)

The Nanotubes tutorial received a relevance rating of 86%, and Deca-Alanine 80%, indicating a majority of the respondents found the tutorials highly relevant. Sample comments are:

  • Nanotubes: "Nothing to complain about – just excellent."
  • Deca-alanine: "Fun and helpful."

Again, comments are generally complimentary for both tutorials, with a  suggestions that the deca-alanine tutorial provide a re-write of one manual.

The complete set of comments is available by e-mailing to request the comments.  

Table 1: Summary of Relevance Statistics

    Poor Fair Good Very Good Excellent
N % % % % %
Day 1 Lecture: Molecular Graphics and Molecular Dynamics 24   4 13 46 38
Day 1 Tutorial: VMD/Molecular Graphics 24     8 46 46
Day 2 Lecture: Equilibrium/Nonequilibrium Properties of Proteins 24     21 33 46
Day 2 Tutorial: NAMD/Molecular Dynamics Tutorial 25   4 8 40 48
Day 3 Lecture: Bioinformatics 13   15 15 31 38
Day 3 Tutorial: Evolution of Protein Structure 25   8 16 40 36
Day 4 Lecture: Simulating Membranes 28     11 32 57
Day 4 Tutorial: Nanotubes 29     14 31 55
Day 4 Tutorial: Stretching Deca-Alanine 20     15 35 45