Hypothetical Course Syllabus

VIS 317 Introduction to the Eye and Vision
Hypothetical Fall Semester 2015
Time: Monday and Wednesday, 3:30‐4:45 PM
Location: WORB 1st floor conference room

Course Director: Katie Litts, (Hypothetical) PhD
Department of Vision Sciences
VH 360 (Lab and office)
(205) 996-8683

Office hours: Friday, 4-5pm, and by appointment

Credit hours: 3

Description: To introduce pre-optometry students and students interested in ophthalmology research to the fields of optometry, ophthalmology, and vision science. Students will gain basic knowledge and understanding of the eye to help them choose a career path in eye-related fields. Prerequisites: Basic knowledge of college introductory biology, chemistry, and physics.


  • Identify different parts of the eye and brain
  • Name diseases affecting vision
  • Analyze journal articles in the field of optometry, ophthalmology, and vision science
  • Critique peers giving journal article presentation
  • Write a review paper using journal articles from literature about favorite disease

Evaluations: This course is a three credit hour course with the student’s grade based on one in-class presentation, two take-home exams, 10 in-class quizzes, participation in in-class discussions and activities, in-class attendance, and a research paper. Students are required to attend all classes. Fellow students and attending faculty members will evaluate the student’s journal club presentation on style, organization, and analysis of the research article. See an attached example of the evaluation form to be used (page 6). These evaluations will be written up by the Course Director and given to the student shortly after their presentation. These evaluations are for the benefit of the student so that they can learn from this experience. In addition, faculty will also evaluate the participation of the non-presenting students during the discussion period. Again, the role of the attending faculty is only to facilitate discussion among the students by providing open-ended questions to stimulate discussion.

Grade Distribution:
Take‐home exam #1: 30%
Take‐home exam #2:
In‐class presentation: 10%
Quizzes: 10%
Research Paper: 10%
Participation and attendance: 10%

69-60%                      D
59% and below         F

Exam Schedule:

Distributed               Due (Email to Course Director)

Exam #1                     Week 8                       Week 9

Exam #2                     Week 15                     Week 16

Take‐home exams:

The take-home exams will consist of a writing assignment based on topics related to the material presented and discussed in class. The first exam will be distributed to students mid-way through the semester and will be due to the Course Director within one week. The second exam will be distributed to the students during the last week of the course and will be due to the Course Director within one week from the last class period.

Exams are due 1 week after distribution to students. Late submission of exams will
not be accepted unless approved by Course Director well ahead of time. A mandatory 5 point deduction will be taken on all late submissions of take‐home exams whether approved or not, further deductions may be taken per the Course Director’s discretion.


Quizzes will be a maximum of 5 questions (very short answer or multiple choice) and worth 1 point per question.

 Journal Club Presentation:

Presentations are to introduce and facilitate class discussion on a journal article. Student should email the course director 3 weeks before the presentation date with a topic or eye disease of interest. Course director will pick a journal article for the student to present no more than 1 week after receiving student’s topic or eye disease of interest. Student will have at least 2 week to prepare the presentation. Presentation should include relevant background information, methods section, discussion of figures, critique of paper, and conclusion. Student will be evaluated and provided feedback by their peers and course director. Presentation is graded on content, and evaluations and is 10% of the final grade. During Week 2, one lecture will cover how to analyze a journal article for the journal club presentation. See attached evaluation form.

Participation and Attendance:

Class participation grade will include providing feedback for the journal club presentations, participating in discussions, and participating in group activities. Missing more than 2 classes will result in one letter grade deduction from the final grade.

Research Paper:

Pick your favorite disease and write a review paper describing disease, causes, genetics, pathobiology, current treatments (if available), and modes of detection using current literature.

Draft/outline Due Week 11 (October 28).

Final Paper Due Week 14 (November 18).


  • There is no required textbook
  • Copies of selected chapters and papers will be distributed electronically to students, where 
  • Supplemental readings and journal articles may be assigned per the discretion of each instructor

Proposed Schedule:

Note: Course Director reserves the right to make changes to the course schedule and/or syllabus at any time.

There are assigned readings for every class unless otherwise noted.

Date Topic Assignments
Week 1
Mon Course layout/ Introduction to the Eye
Wed In-class eye dissection
Week 2
Mon How to analyze and present a journal article Quiz
Wed Optics Part 1
Week 3
Mon Optics Part 2 Quiz
Wed Cornea
Week 4
Mon Lens Quiz
Wed Vitreous
Week 5
Mon Journal article presentations Quiz
Wed Journal article presentations
Week 6
Mon Retina – Overview Quiz
Wed Retina – Photoreceptors/ Phototransduction
Week 7
Mon Retina – Bipolar/ horizontal cells Quiz
Wed Retina – Ganglion/ Amacrine cells
Week 8 Take Home Exam #1
Mon Vision and the Brain – Overview
Wed Visual pathways Part 1
Week 9 Take Home Exam #1 Due
Mon Visual pathways Part 2 Quiz
Wed Journal article presentations
Week 10
Mon Journal article presentations Quiz
Wed Journal article presentations
Week 11 Research paper outline/draft due
Mon Ophthalmic Imaging Part 1
Wed Ophthalmic Imaging Part 2
Week 12
Mon Anterior Segment Diseases Quiz
Wed Anterior Segment Diseases
Week 13
Mon Posterior Segment Disease Quiz
Wed Posterior Segment Disease
Week 14 Research paper due
Mon Journal article presentations
Wed Journal article presentations
Week 15 Take Home Exam #2
Mon Journal article presentations
Wed Journal article presentations
Week 16 Take Home Exam #2 Due

Disability Support Services:

Students who may need course accommodations are welcome to make an appointment to meet with either of the course instructors during office hours. Students with disabilities must be registered with Disability Support Services, 1701 9th Avenue South (205-934-4205), and provide an accommodation request letter before receiving academic adjustments.

 Academic Honor Code:

The University of Alabama at Birmingham expects all members of its academic community to function according to the highest ethical and professional standards. Students, faculty, and the administration of the institution must be involved to ensure this quality of academic conduct.

Academic misconduct undermines the purpose of education. Such behavior is a serious violation of the trust that must exist among faculty and students for a university to nurture intellectual growth and development. Academic misconduct can generally be defined as all acts of dishonesty in an academic or related matter.

Academic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, the following categories of behavior:

ABETTING is helping another student commit an act of academic dishonesty. Allowing someone to copy your quiz answers or use your work as their own are examples of abetting.

CHEATING is the unauthorized use or attempted use of unauthorized materials, information, study aids, the work of others, or computer-related information.

PLAGIARISM means claiming as your own the ideas, words, data, computer programs, creative compositions, artwork, etc., done by someone else. Examples include improper citation of referenced works, the use of commercially available scholarly papers, failure to cite sources, or copying another person’s ideas.

FABRICATION means presenting falsified data, citations, or quotations as genuine.

MISREPRESENTATION is falsification, alteration, or the misstatement of the contents of documents, academic work, or other materials related to academic matters, including work substantially done for one class as work done for another without receiving prior approval from the instructor.

Violations of the UAB Academic Honor Code are punishable by a range of penalties, from receiving a failing grade on an assignment to an F in the course to dismissal. Any course grade of F for academic misconduct supersedes any other grade or notation for that class. Withdrawal from a course while a possible violation of the Academic Honor Code is under review will not preclude the assignment of a course grade that appropriately reflects the student’s performance prior to withdrawal if the violation is substantiated.


Sample Presentation Rubric

VIS 317            Introduction to the Eye and Vision

Presenter                                                                                            Date:                                                  

Name of person providing feedback:                                                                                                     

[Critiques will be returned to students w/o identifiers.]


Scale: 5 = Excellent, 4=Good, 3=Satisfactory, 2=Needs Improvement, 1=Poor
Presentation Skills:     Excellent






Needs Improvement (2) Poor


Uses correct grammar in visual aids and in oral presentation
Presents material without excessive dependence on notes
Uses eye contact, gestures, and voice inflections to maintain audience
Appears to understand the material and answer questions effectively
Was the speaker enthusiastic?
Subject Matter:
The introduction provided sufficient background to understand the topic
The subject matter was developed in logical order
Given the time constraints, the topic was developed sufficiently
The summary/conclusion emphasized the significance of the information
The presentation enhanced your understanding of the topic
Overall Impression:

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