Jnawali, Ashutosh

Ashutosh Jnawali completed his PhD in vision science from the University of Houston College of Optometry and is currently working as a postdoctoral fellow at New England College of Optometry. Ashutosh is interested in evaluating the development of myopia in children and studying the contributing factors which lead to myopic eye growth in children. Ashutosh uses techniques such as ocular imaging, electrophysiology and psychophysics for these studies. Ashutosh is also interested in teaching activities and envisions himself being actively involved in teaching activities in his career as a vision scientist. Through the PDP program, Ashutosh is interested to learn more about the inquiry based learning and articulating assessable learning outcomes, which he plans to apply on his own teaching techniques.






Teaching Activity Summary

Name of Teaching Activity"The effect of pupil size on visual quality and blur" 

Teaching Venue: Pre-Optometry Professional Society Workshop. University of Houston, TX, August 2018

Learners: 15 undergraduate students.

Reflection on how the activity designed was influenced by research on equity & inclusion in STEM teaching:

In our design, we mainly focused on the Equity and Inclusion specific focus area of ‘Beliefs and biases about learning, achievement and teaching’. This was an interesting area of focus for our team as the majority of participants in our teaching activity were pre-optometry students and our teaching activity heavily focused on the concepts of optics and its clinical application. It was interesting to evaluate how their own beliefs and biases about learning, achievement and teaching 1, specifically regarding the optics, would have an effect on how they would learn and perform on the teaching activity. We did not want the learners to develop any sense of rivalry or unnecessary competitive feeling amongst themselves, as it can get sometimes, especially with the competitive admission in optometry school. We carefully included contexting throughout our activity like differences between academic performance and professional identity, respectful communication and internalization of concepts before making predictions. During facilitation, we were also careful to motivate learners by recognizing their effort on the experiments rather than achievements, which shifts focus from trying to prove one better than others to trying to get better than one was before. We also designed the jigsaw poster session at the end, which provided opportunity for each member of the group to act as an expert on that particular case, which lessened the feeling of competition against others. Another concern was the stereotype threat 2, 3, especially with a mix of optometry students familiar with the content and other learners from totally different background like arts. Our design of jigsaw poster session and focus on effort rather than achievement helped with coping against such issues in the teaching activities.

In future teaching activities also, I would focus on the area of beliefs and biases about learning, achievement and teaching with any group that is involved. This specific idea of Equity and Inclusion theme applies to any group of learners irrespective of their background. Although the majority of learners in our group this time were pre optometry and optometry students, who were already familiar with one or more concepts, some students were from totally different background. Some learners were not even remotely familiar with the concepts of optics. However, as we focused more on appreciating the effort rather than achievements, that must have motivated the learners to worry less about their prior knowledge or prove competency amongst each other. Because of this growth mindset4 being promoted in the learning environment, they were all enthusiast to learn the new materials and focused more on learning the authentic STEM practices and less on proving themselves against each other. I believe this focus area of Equity and Inclusion will be important in any of my future teaching activities, where I might face similar situation of having some learners with totally different background than the content being taught.

  1. Bianchini, J.A., & Solomon, E.M., 2002. “Constructing views of science tied to issues of equity and diversity: A study of beginning science teachers.” Journal of Research in Science Teaching 40 (1) 53–76
  2. Steele, C. M., & Aronson, J., 1995. “Stereotype threat and the intellectual test performance of AfricanAmericans.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 69, 797–811
  3. Gonzales, P. M., Blanton, H., & Williams, K. J., 2002. “The effects of stereotype threat and doubleminority status on the test performance of Latino women.” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 28, 659–670
  4. Dweck, C.S., 2006. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. New York: Random House