Course analysis 2D1257 Visualisation, 4p Spring 2001

Course data

Staff

Course responsible
Kai-Mikael Jää-Aro
Other teachers:
Per Ekman <pek@pdc.kth.se> Tel: 790 7885
Sten-Olof Hellström <soh@nada.kth.se> Tel: 790 6698
Gunnar Ledfelt<ledfelt@pdc.kth.se> Tel: 790 6333

Extents

16(+2)h lecture

A laboratory exercise worth 2 points, one written exam worth 2 points.

32 students, (3 D, 4 Dr, 1 F, 3 X, 14 IM, 7 SU)

Course literature

The Visualization Toolkit, 2nd ed by William Schroeder, Ken Martin and Bill Lorensen.

Student performance

After the second makeup exam in September 2000, the results were as follows:
U 3
(G)
4 5
(VG)
D 0 1 2 0
Dr 0 0 0 2
F 0 0 1 0
IM 7 4 0 2
X 0 1 1 1
SU 0 2 - 4
Total 7 8 4 9
Thus 66% of the students have passed the exam.

The laboratory exercise results:
G
D 3
Dr 2
F 1
IM 9
X 3
SU 6
Total 24
75% of the students have passed the laboratory exercise.

Teaching

We have tried to combine theoretical lectures with immediately following hands-on exercises on the just covered material.
Lars Kjelldahl gave a two hour refresher lecture on computer graphics, for those who were unfamiliar with the subject.

Examination

The examination was both an ungraded laboratory exercise and a written exam.

The laboratory exercise was performed in groups of two students and then presented both as a written report and a demonstration of the developed visualisation (of airflow over a wing).

The written exam was based on a few questions on terminology and theory and the rest on practical application of visualisation methods on various example data.  The students were allowed to use the course book during the exam.

Course evaluation

A course evaluation form was prepared in ace, but in fact none of the students filled it in.  Accordingly this evaluation is based solely on the opinions of the course leader.  The format where lectures were immediately followed by exercises felt good and worked well with the relatively few students we had.  The laboratory exercise was somewhat hampered by very few of the involved having deep knowledge of the subject matter (aerodynamics), so it was not immediately obvious to everyone what should have been displayed in the desired visualisation.
The exam worked well, except as noted below.

As made clear by the statistics above, the IM students have not done very well on this course, as only half of them have passed the exam and many of these just barely.  The reasons for this are not clear, but a likely reason may be insufficient prior knowledge.  The visualisation course requires an introductory computer graphics course as prerequisite, but it seems that many of the IM students in fact have not studied computer graphics before and the two-hour refresher was obviously not sufficient.  Furthermore, that VTK, the chosen programming platform, was object-oriented appears to have confused some of the students.  Possibly some OOP course should also be included as a prerequisite.
The alternative, to not require computer graphics and OO as prerequisites, seems unpalatable, as that would require spending time on matters unrelated to visualisation.  Still, the IM students have limited time at their disposal and them taking courses in computer graphics has been considered as unfeasible, so if it is considered important for them to study visualisation, something should be done to give them a better chance to take part in the course.
One alternative would be to select some suitable text books for them and require that they read up on the matter on their own, but that wouldn't be really effective, as they would likely need guidance and help anyway.  A short intensive course would perhaps be possible to arrange, but experience suggests that it would be non-effective unless the students were fairly into the subject anyway.
Apparently this is a difficult issue and will have to be discussed further before the next version of the course starts in January 2001.