Teaching is a critical component of the graduate education in Vision Science. All Vision Science PhD students are required to spend at least two semesters as Graduate Student Instructors (GSIs), teaching in the Optometry professional school curriculum. GSI appointments provide Vision Science students with teaching experience in a mentored environment and help to expand their knowledge of clinical aspects of vision science. Virtually every career path after graduation, in or out of academia, will involve some form of teaching. In addition to the required two semesters as a GSI in Optometry courses, Vision Science students can apply for additional teaching experience, including courses in other departments such as Integrative Biology, Psychology, and Molecular and Cell Biology, with approval from their research mentor.

Graduate Student Instructors (GSI)

First-year VS students are typically Junior GSIs who then teach in the same course during their second year as Senior GSIs. In addition to teaching Optometry students, Senior GSIs are responsible for mentoring Junior GSIs. In particular, Senior GSIs should collect whatever course materials are available from previous years and send these to the Junior GSIs well before the beginning of the class, so that they have time to properly prepare for teaching. In addition, before class begins, both Junior GSIs and Senior GSIs should meet together with the faculty Course Instructor(s) to discuss their respective responsibilities in the course, and faculty instructors should provide GSIs with access to course materials on bCourses well before the course begins.

Teaching Responsibilities

Depending on the course, Vision Science GSIs may be involved in preparing and administering labs, teaching review sessions, responding to student emails, and/or grading exams. It is the responsibility of the faculty instructor(s) to write exam questions, the answer key, and the grading rubric for assigning points to individual questions, to determine final letter grades for each student, and to enter these grades into Cal Central. All first-year GSIs must complete the Online Course on Professional Standards and Ethics in Teaching. This should be done by the end of the third week of the fall semester of the first year. The course is on the Graduate Student Instructor Teaching and Resource Center website. For International students, you will need to complete an additional course on English Language Proficiency if English is not your native language. More resources on this are also available at the GSI Resource Center website.

Required Course in Pedagogy

First-year GSIs are also required to enroll in VS300, “Teaching Methods in Vision Science,” in both the fall and spring semesters. This class satisfies the UC Berkeley requirement that GSIs complete a course in pedagogy in their field. Austin Roorda is the VS300 Instructor.

Faculty Advisor for GSI

Austin Roorda is also the Faculty Advisor for GSI (Graduate Student Instructor) Affairs in Vision Science. If you have any questions or concerns about your role as a GSI, please contact him. These could include questions about expectations for GSIs before you begin teaching as well as issues that arise during your time as a GSI.


Course Assignments

Vision Science GSIs are assigned to one of the following Optometry courses:

Geometrical Optics

Optical System and Physical Optics

Visual Perception and Sensitivity

Anatomy and Physiology of the Eye / Neuroanatomy and Neurophysiology of the Eye and Visual System

Anatomy and Physiology of the Eye and Visual System

Oculomotor Functions and Neurology / Binocular Vision and Space Perception

Systemic Pharmacology / Ocular Pharmacology