General Evaluation of the Workshop on Cryo-EM Modeling Based on X-ray Crystallography at Urbana

January 8-10, 2014

Questionnaire: Gila Budescu, TCB Group, UIUC, and modified by David Brandon, TCB Group, UIUC
Analysis and report: David Brandon, TCB Group, UIUC

The UIUC's Theoretical and Computational Biophysics Group (TCBG), the NIH Center for Macromolecular Modeling and Bioinformatics is headed by Klaus Schulten, and Co-PIs Z. Luthey-Schulten,  L. Kale, E. Tajkhorshid, and A. Aksimentiev. As part of its outreach, the Center offers workshops to introduce and transfer its programs and technological solutions to the biomedical community. The Center, in collaboration with Professor Gunnar Schroeder from Forschungszentrum Julich, organized a three-day (January 8-10, 2014) workshop at the Center's home offices in the Beckman Institute, on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus, in Urbana, Illinois.  Participants were provided all workshop content, as well as the classroom, catering, and printing costs.

The program of the workshop consisted of lectures and hands-on sessions. Workshop lectures were given by professor K. Schulten (UIUC) and Gunnar Schroeder (Forschungszentrum Julich). TCBG members Ryan McGreevy, Yan Chan, Juan Perilla, provided lectures, and were joined by Boon Chong Goh, Yanxin Liu, and Abhi Singaroy in providing demonstrations and serving as teaching assistants. Zhe Wang from Prof. Schroeder's group also served as a teaching assistant. Tutorials and software used in the workshop were developed by Center members and Prof. Shroeder's group.  The program of the workshop consisted of lectures and hands-on sessions, with an emphasis on the latter. On the last day of the workshop, participants were asked to complete a general evaluation form consisting of questions about outcomes, lectures, hands-on tutorial sessions, utility of the workshop day devoted to participant projects and lab time, environment and technical resources, communication and dissemination, overall satisfaction, and questions soliciting open comments. A copy of the form is available here; summary tables of results are below.

Satisfaction ratings for the workshop are very high, with 100% of responding participants agreeing or strongly agreeing that the workshop was well organized, that the balance between lectures and hands-on sessions was optimal, that the workshop addressed their research needs, that the workshop met their expectations, and that they would recommend the workshop to others.

I. Outcomes

  N Strongly Disagree Disagree Unsure Agree Strongly Agree
1. The Workshop broadened my understanding of concepts and principles in the field of Computational and Theoretical Biophysics. 10       10% 90%
2. The Workshop improved my ability to carry out original research in the field of Theoretical and Computational Biophysics. 10       40% 60%
3. The Workshop improved significantly my computational skills. 10   10% 30% 50% 10%
4. The Workshop taught me techniques directly applicable to my career. 10       20% 80%
5. The material presented in the Workshop was relevant to my research. 10       10% 90%


II. Lectures

  N Strongly Disagree Disagree Unsure Agree Strongly Agree
1. The instructors' knowledge of the subjects was good. 10         100%
2. The instructors explained the material well. 10       10% 90%
3. The instructors provided real-world examples. 10       30% 70%
4. The lectures were coordinated between instructors. 10       30% 70%
5. Lectures incorporated recent developments in the field. 10       50% 50%
6. The range of lectures captured the overall essentials of the field. 10     10% 50% 40%
7. The level of the lectures was appropriate. 10     10% 20% 70%
8. The underlying rationale of the techniques presented was clear. 10       10% 90%
9. The instructors stimulated my intellectual curiosity. 10     10% 30% 60%
10. The daily Q&A period was beneficial. 10   10% 10% 40% 40%


III. Hands-On Sessions

  N Strongly Disagree Disagree Unsure Agree Strongly Agree
1. The hands-on sessions were important for the learning process in the Workshop. 10       10% 90%
2. The concrete examples in the hands-on tutorials increased my understanding of the lectures. 10       20% 80%
3. The hands-on sessions were long enough. 10     20% 30% 50%
4. The hands-on sessions were coordinated with the lectures. 10       50% 50%
5. TAs were well-prepared to answer questions. 10       20% 80%
6. There were sufficient instructions to proceed with the hands-on assignments. 10       10% 90%
7. There were enough TAs / instructional staff to help the participants. 10         100%
8. The tutorial options accommodated the differing interests of participants. 10     20% 10% 70%
9. The tutorial options accommodated the differing expertise levels of participants. 10     10% 10% 80%


IV. Participant Projects, Tutorials, and Lab Time Day

  N Strongly Disagree Disagree Unsure Agree Strongly Agree
1. I used this day to complete workshop tutorials. 9   33% 11% 11% 44%
2. I used this day to work on my own workshop-related projects. 10     30% 20% 50%
3. There were enough teaching assistants available on this day. 10       30% 70%
4. A day for projects, tutorials, and lab time is better than more time daily for these items. 10     20% 40% 40%
5. The participant projects, tutorials, and lab time day is a good addition to the workshop. 10       30% 70%


V. Environment and Technical Resources

  N Strongly Disagree Disagree Unsure Agree Strongly Agree
1. The software used in the Workshop ran well on my (circle one: Windows/Mac/Linux) laptop. 10       40% 60%
2. The lecture room was conducive to learning. 10       20% 80%
3. The projection system was sufficient for the lectures. 10       10% 90%


VI. Communication and Dissemination

  N Strongly Disagree Disagree Unsure Agree Strongly Agree
1. Instructors were readily available for Q&A outside the lecture periods. 10       20% 80%
2. The Workshop web site was informative about the event. 10       10% 90%
3. The emails about setting up laptops for the Workshop were helpful. 10       10% 90%
4. The organizational emails before the Workshop were helpful. 9       22% 78%


VI. Overall Satisfaction

  N Strongly Disagree Disagree Unsure Agree Strongly Agree
1. The Workshop was well organized. 10         100%
2. The balance between lectures and hands-on sessions was optimal. 10       40% 60%
3. The Workshop addressed my research needs. 10       20% 80%
4. Overall, the Workshop met my expectations. 10       20% 80%
5. I would recommend this Workshop to others. 10       10% 90%


VII. Comments

Participants were solicited for comments in four areas, 1) suggestions for improving the workshop, 2) suggestions for similar workshops, 3) most valuable/least valuable/future workshop topics, and 4) other comments. An inexhaustive list of comments in each area is provided below; a compilation of raw statements can be obtained by e-mailing If a comment was made in one area of the open questions, it is generally not repeated again in another area below.

  • Suggestions for improving the workshop:
    • "Possibly breaking up tutorial time and lectures. For instance, in the morning give a lecture then do the tutorial. Or, run through the tutorial during lectures. Suggest to participants to do the tutorials beforehand."
    • "More lectures might be better."
    • "Emphasize that you may not need to do all tutorials comprehensively to get what you need, e.g., MDFF in my case."
  • Suggestions for similar workshops:
    • "Organize every year. Bigger cities."
    • "Advertise on the .ccp4 mailing list to reach a large portion of structural biologists."
    • ""
  • Most/least valuable topics and suggestions for future workshop topics
    • "More details of setting up MD run & MDFF"
    • "All were valuable."
    • "MDFF and DireX were of equal value. How to run the programs and how to analyze the output is most valuable."
  • Other comments:
    • "Hands-on experience is crucial and only possible with TAs. Thanks!"
    • "Overall this was an excellent course. I learned more than I expected to and will definitely apply my new knowledge directly to my research."
    • "Excellent workshop altogether. Very glad I came!"