Teaching basic lab skills
for research computing

Two Self-Assessments

A recurring problem with our workshops is the diversity of learners' backgrounds. Below are the results of two pre-workshop self-assessments (on different groups), one phrased in terms of content, the other in terms of specific tasks. The consistency is better than I expected: broadly speaking, it seems that people's impression of how much they know about X is more or less in line with their belief about whether they could do something that requires understanding X. The next step will be to follow up a few weeks after the workshop to see if they actually can do X.

Survey 1
never heard of it know what it is / might have used it occasionally use it but don't really understand it use it regularly and feel I understand it well expert
bash shell scripting 9% 31% 19% 41% 0%
version control (so you can "rollback" changes) 47% 44% 6% 3% 0%
make (e.g. automated analysis) 44% 31% 19% 6% 0%
simple python including lists and dictionaries 12% 38% 16% 28% 6%
adding unit tests to python scripts 66% 22% 3% 9% 0%
useful python modules (numpy and scipy) 28% 31% 16% 25% 0%
MDAnalysis (load a protein structure into python) 41% 31% 6% 19% 3%
Survey 2
could do easily could probably struggle through wouldn't know where to start
A tab-delimited file has two columns: the date, and the highest temperature on that day. Produce a graph showing the average highest temperature for each month. 69% 21% 8%
Write a short program to read a file containing columns of numbers separated by commas, average the non-negative values in the second and fifth columns, and print the results. 15% 32% 52%
In a directory with 1000 text files, create a list of all files that contain the word Drosophila, and redirect the output to a file called results.txt. 13% 26% 60%
A database has two tables Scientist and Lab. The Scientist table's columns are the scientist's student ID, name, and email address; the Lab table's columns are lab names, lab IDs, and scientist IDs. Write an SQL statement that outputs a count of the number of scientists in each lab. 6% 10% 82%
Check out a working copy of a project from version control, add a file called paper.txt, and commit the change. 6% 13% 80%

Dialogue & Discussion

You can review our commenting policy here.