Annual Research Symposium for Optometry Honours Students
UKZN’s Discipline of Optometry hosted a research symposium for its Bachelor of Optometry Honours students where they presented their year-long research studies to a panel of external examiners in groups.
In her welcome address, Academic Leader in Optometry Dr Naimah Ebrahim Khan noted that this day was an important milestone for the students. ‘The success of these research presentations gives students a chance to graduate with their honours degree. This year we have 12 groups presenting - one of the biggest final-year classes to date.’
She noted that, ‘Each group worked with their supervisors to complete their research studies, by collecting and analysing data, and presenting their findings and posters to external examiners. Their final year marks will be made up of their presentations, posters and their supervisors’ appraisal.’ Each group had 10 minutes to present their research and five minutes for a Q&A session, followed by a poster presentation.
Guest speaker and external examiner from the University of Johannesburg Professor Alan Rubin’s key message centred around rationality. Defining it as the ability to use knowledge and logic to attain certain goals, he examined how cognitive and other biases could be avoided through the contributions of clinicians’ research.
Rubin encouraged students to engage in research to improve the world, adding that research is not only fun, challenging and creative but enables personal growth as well as scientific and social contributions.
Providing feedback on the students’ presentations, external examiner Professor Tuwani Rasengane of the University of the Free State said that the future of optometry is in good hands. She applauded UKZN staff for their sound supervision and highlighted the diversity of the topics chosen. Rasengane also called on students to pursue their studies further or to write papers on their research topics that will promote critical thinking.
The winning research presentations were: Impact of Contact Lenses Treatment Interventions on the Quality of Life of Keratoconus Patients; Validation of Teachers’ Vision Screening of Primary School Learners in the Pinetown District; and Academic Motivation and Self-Concept of Optometry Students at a Higher Education Institution in KwaZulu-Natal.
The poster winners were: Clinical Profile of Paediatric Patients Presenting at the UKZN Eye Clinic for the Period 2016 to 2019: A Retrospective Review; Impact of Contact Lenses Treatment Interventions on the Quality of Life of Keratoconus Patients; and Academic Motivation and Self-Concept of Optometry Students at a Higher Education Institution in KwaZulu-Natal. All the students received certificates for their participation.
Research Co-ordinator in the Discipline of Optometry Dr Alvin Munsamy noted that this was the first in-person symposium since 2019: ‘For the first time in two years we were able to complete action research, allowing us to get back into the swing of things and to resume some level of normality,’ he said.
Final-year student, Ms Noluthando Sikhakhane said that much hard work and effort went into the presentations: ‘This has been a stepping stone to our academic careers.’
Words: Hlengiwe Khwela
Photographs: Ntsika Nduli