This opportunity is now closed.

Funded PhD Opportunity

Development and evaluation of a web-based interactive teaching tool for Optometrists

Subjects: Biomedical Sciences and Computer Science and Informatics


Summary

This project builds on a previous Ulster collaboration between the School of Biomedical Sciences (Optometry) and Access, Digital and Distributed Learning (ADDL).  This innovative programme, developed via a Special Call, involved the establishment of an interactive teaching tool which can be used by undergraduate and postgraduate Optometrists to refine differential diagnostic skills.  It allows users to enhance their problem-solving skills in a safe environment, allowing them the opportunity to increase their scope of practice. Presently this programme, developed using Unity, works well in small classes where the instructor can advise on how to download and use the programme.  It features 14 different conditions that present to the Optometrist as a ‘red eye’.  The user can work through the application to view the results from different Optometric tests in order to determine a final diagnosis.  Following the selection of the ‘answer’ the programme will link to live ‘Clinical Management Guidelines’ for each of the 14 specified conditions.

The aim of this proposed PhD is to develop this programme into a sustainable and more widely applicable web-based tool that works on all devices, is easily maintained via a web interface and would have the flexibility of adding in a greater number of conditions as strategies evolved.  There are currently over 60 ‘Clinical Management Guidelines’ which provide the basis of revision for Optometrists training in further and higher qualifications such as Independent Prescribing (College of Optometrists 2019).  Ideally, the majority of these conditions would be incorporated into the proposed programme which would provide a less repetitive and more valuable revision tool.

The PhD student would also evaluate the programme amongst groups of undergraduate, postgraduate and practising Optometrists in order to refine the application using both focus groups and questionnaire-based investigations.  An evaluation of the initial phase of this programme will be presented at the Association for Simulated Practice in Healthcare (ASPiH) in November 2019 (by JMcC), however it is envisaged that further development of this programme would allow for a more widely used programme amongst eyecare professionals.  It is also envisaged that once developed, the programme could be trialled with other health professionals including Pharmacists and GPs who also provide eyecare advice to the public.

The involvement of a colleague from CHERP (Richard Beggs) brings a unique pedagogic element to the research project ensuring it aligns with Ulster University’s Learning and Teaching strategy and that the projects’ outputs are appropriately disseminated across healthcare, computing and education.  Richard also has previous experience as an instructional and multimedia designer which will inform the development aspect of the project. The project aims to use a ‘Person-Based Approach’ for the development of the programme (Yardley 2015) which aims to employ user-centred design methods combined with evidence-based behaviour change methods.  Viewing this educational tool as an ‘intervention’, this approach intends to understand and accommodate the perspectives of the people who will use the intervention, in order to improve acceptability, feasibility and engagement. The proposed timeframe will allow for completion within the three year period.

0-6 months: Literature review on ‘Person-Based Approaches’ to digital design.  Ethical approval application for focus groups to inform development.  
6-12 months: Surveys and focus groups to inform design with evaluation of current project.  
12-24 months: Technical development of programme.
24-30 months: Evaluation of final design.

The potential applicant will have a BSc (Hons) in a Computer Science or related discipline. The successful applicant will have an interest in healthcare related technology and education.


Essential criteria

  • To hold, or expect to achieve by 15 August, an Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC) in a related or cognate field.
  • Sound understanding of subject area as evidenced by a comprehensive research proposal

Desirable Criteria

If the University receives a large number of applicants for the project, the following desirable criteria may be applied to shortlist applicants for interview.

  • Completion of Masters at a level equivalent to commendation or distinction at Ulster
  • Experience using research methods or other approaches relevant to the subject domain
  • Work experience relevant to the proposed project
  • Publications - peer-reviewed
  • Publications record appropriate to career stage
  • Experience of presentation of research findings
  • A comprehensive and articulate personal statement
  • Use of personal initiative as evidenced by record of work above that normally expected at career stage.
  • Relevant professional qualification and/or a Degree in a Health or Health related area

Funding

    The University offers the following awards to support PhD study and applications are invited from UK, EU and overseas for the following levels of support:

    Department for the Economy (DFE)

    The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £ 15,009 per annum for three years. EU applicants will only be eligible for the fee’s component of the studentship (no maintenance award is provided). For Non-EU nationals the candidate must be "settled" in the UK. This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Due consideration should be given to financing your studies; for further information on cost of living etc. please refer to: www.ulster.ac.uk/doctoralcollege/postgraduate-research/fees-and-funding/financing-your-studies


Other information


The Doctoral College at Ulster University


Reviews

Profile picture of Kieran O'Donnell

My experience has been great and the people that I have worked with have been amazing

Kieran O'Donnell - 3D printing of biological cells for tissue engineering applications

Watch Video  

Profile picture of Michelle Clements Clements

Completing the MRes provided me with a lot of different skills, particularly in research methods and lab skills.

Michelle Clements Clements - MRes - Life and Health Sciences

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Profile picture of William Crowe

Throughout my PhD I’ve been provided with continuous support and guidance by my supervisors and the staff at the University.I’ve also received many opportunities to further enhance my professional development in the form of teaching experience and presenting my work at conferences which will aid in my pursuit of a career in academia or industry.

William Crowe


Key dates

Submission deadline
Friday 7 February 2020

Interview Date
9 to 20 March


Applying

Apply Online  


Campus

Coleraine campus

Coleraine campus
The feeling of community at our Coleraine campus makes for a warm and welcoming student experience.


Contact supervisor

Dr Julie McClelland


Other supervisors

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