Teaching context and philosophy
I am the Program Authority for postgraduate coursework at the School of Optometry and Vision Science. I coordinate and teach into our large undergraduate third-year Ocular Imaging and Applied Vision Science course, and I teach foundational aspects of our flagship first-year Perspectives from Vision Science course. I also thoroughly enjoy my current opportunities teaching postgraduate students enrolled in our Graduate Diploma in Orientation and Mobility program and postgraduate research coursework offerings.
I believe that the most important things in a student’s education are access, feedback on learning and student engagement.
If a student cannot access learning materials during their candidature, then teaching ability becomes a moot point. We as teachers need to ensure that the platforms for the delivery of education are both accessible and affordable to students. I go beyond this to create and use platforms that support student lifelong learning that are completely free of licensing or subscription fees.
Students also need to receive regular feedback on their learning. It doesn’t matter how well students think they are performing, there is always room for improvement. Getting students to respond well to feedback is an art that takes patience and dedication.
For the above to work, we really need to promote active student participation and engagement wherever possible. Regular catch-ups for monitoring well-being sometimes reveal circumstances that adversely affect the educational experience for remote learners. By making regular contact we can do our best to ensure appropriate remedies are identified/constructed to mitigate many of the challenges as soon as they arise.
I also believe that the biggest area of improvement that I encounter with students regularly is their ability to write for a scientific audience, which is critical in the vision science courses I teach. Writing effectively has become ever more important since the global pandemic. For the most part, when a face-to-face interaction is not possible (whether physical or virtual), we ultimately rely on written communication. I am highly motivated to create new approaches to teaching scientific writing to ensure our undergraduate vision science students and postgraduate coursework students meet the necessary graduate attributes expected at UNSW Sydney.
The other most important thing I believe in is to always be as inspiring as you can be. Even the driest material can be taught in ways that are interesting, stimulating and provocative of new ways of thinking.