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Excepts from Student Surveys

At the end of each semester in which these simulation assignments were used, I asked to students to tell me whether or not the simulations has been useful in any way, whether thay had encountered difficulties, and to give suggestions for improvement. Here are some excerpts from surveys given over a period of several semesters.

"Hands-on" aspect:

"It's just like a lab. If I observe some unexpected phenomenon, I will think about it more deeply."

"The simulations were are really good alternative to real lab work."

"Since the class doesn't have a lab, I felt the simulations helped give us a feel for the techniques."

"Those simulations provided some 'hands on' experience."

"Almost a hands-on experience."

Visual/observation aspect:

"...the simulations amplified and extended the material in one concise and VISUAL (very important!) package."

" could actually see the change is a result of changing parameters."

"It's easy to observe the changes of data if I change the value."

"I can see the influence over the whole system of varying one parameter..."

"...helps me to see what effects would be observed under certain circumstances."

Generally helpful:

"...really helped me to understand the concepts."

"Every simulation helps".

"All of them [helped me]."

"Very helpful."

"Beer's Law deviations [helped me]."

"Yes, especially the Spectroscopy of Atomic Absorption."

"Yes! (If not the simulations themselves, the accompanying questions)."

"I can make more understanding of the things you have taught to us in class."

"The simulations helped considerably to apply the concepts learned. ... for some of them, I was not perfectly clear on all the concepts."

Some difficulties:

"...some were more helpful than others."

"They did help a great deal (except the fluorescence one - that was confusing)."

"Fluorescence [simulation] was difficult but helpful."

"The standard addition simulation was the worst...I didn't get the results I expected."

Suggestions for improvements:

"Place more emphasis on the origins of the math calculations and their uses.

"It is helpful to play with this kind of simulation, but some analytical work on paper wouldn't hurt too..."

"More detail on what to expect."

"More detailed instructions."

"At the end of every topic, discuss the problems for every question on the simulation in detail."

"Indicate when it's OK just to 'eyeball it'."

"The Monte Carlo simulation seemed hard to optimize, perhaps due to the number of variables that could be changed."

"Sometimes the notations of the variables are difficult to keep straight, but I guess there is not way to improve this...."

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