4th SLAIHEE SDC joint Conference 2008

The Fourth SDC / SLAIHEE Conference was concluded successfully, on Monday 24th March 2008 (9.30 am to 4.30 pm) at the University of Colombo, with 104 university staff from Sri Lankan universities participating. The theme for this year's conference was; "Using Teaching to Expand Range of Skills Development in Students and Staff".

(for Papers presented, please see 'PRESENTATIONS' of this web-page; for their Abstracts, see News letters click on Volume 6)

Similar to previous conferences, the Fourth SDC / SLAIHEE Conference was organized jointly by the Staff Development Centre (SDC) of the University of Colombo and SLAIHEE.



The conference began with the initial welcome that was delivered by Mrs Shrinika Weerakoon, Acting Director of the SDC and Secretary of SLAIHEE. Dr Nilukshi Abeyasinghe, President of SLAIHEE, addressed the opening session and outlined the Conference Activities. Plenary Addresses were delivered by Professor Lalitha Mendis (Emeritus Professor, and a former Dean of the University of Colombo) who delivered the Keynote, and by the Guest-of-Honour, Professor Kshanika Hirimburegama, (Vice-Chancellor of the University of Colombo).

Conference Presentation Sessions were chaired by Mr P Dias of the University of Sri Jayewardanepure, and by Dr Prasanna Ratnaweera of the Open University of Sri Lanka.

Special mention at this year's conference related to the following announcements;

  • the naming of the SDC Library as the "Professor WD Lakshman & Stephen Cox Library", honouring a visionary Vice-Chancellor, who took the timely action of starting the first SDC at the University of Colombo in 1997, and also honouring the commitment of Mr Stephen Cox, the overseas consultant who helped start the initial activities of the SDC.

  • the award of a "Prize for Teaching Excellence in Universities", with the first award to be made at the Fifth SLAIHEE Conference, involving an annual cash prize of Rs 25,000.00, donated by a well-wisher. Details and criteria for this award will be announced later.



All over the world, Higher Education (HE) has been grappling with the issue of developing skills in staff and students to equip them to face new challenges to utilize ing an older ver the knowledge-resources of today?s globalised world. Lecturers continue to be key players in this skill development, even in today?s information-rich climate, for which skills of university lecturers need continuous improvement. Sri Lanka put in place required mechanisms for skill improvement in new lecturers in 1997, where new lecturers were required to successfully complete a teaching-learning course. As the need emerged for university administrative staff also to become invested with new skills, a course for their training commenced late last year, as also at the SDC/Colombo in February this year. As all these interventions attempted to expand skills through the medium of teaching, the SDC and SLAIHEE felt it timely to review whether teaching was being used effectively to expand the range of skills in our students and staff, and to report on good practices that we were using. This conference attempted to capture, record and discuss these successful practices, in the spirit of continuing to expand and contribute to our Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL).



The Conference invited Abstracts, double-peer-reviewed them, and eight presentations were accepted. The refereeing was used also to select presentations that avoided focusing on well-seasoned topics such as the (now sion wi well-known) "benefits" of skill development in Higher Education, and selected those which showcased experiential practices that specifically documented Using Teaching to Expand range of Skills Development in Students and Staff in the Sri Lankan setting, so that they would serve as a platform for Sri Lanka to plan future approaches to effective skill development in HE. Abstracts were invited on the stated Conference Theme, based on experiences, and not on mere possibilities and rhetoric. The accepted Abstracts were printed in the Abstracts Book that was distributed, with the Abstract titles being reproduced below, and the full Abstracts appearing in SLAIHEENews letters Volume 6. Presenters, and past conference presenters, were congratulated for furnishing the evidence to show convincingly that these Sri Lankan university staff involved with the SDC and SLAIHEE were deeply committed to carrying out concrete actions, in contrast to rhetoric, towards improving higher education in our country.

The Conference Handbook paid tribute to the participants by stating that ?It is through these galvanizing events that we will be able to address the un-employability / under-employability graduate issue that continues to plague our country, and which had developed into catastrophic sad socially-debilitating events every two decades over the recent past. We take strength in the belief that you will get others to join you, and in the hope that you will share your commitment as well as the knowledge from this Conference with those who have not had the opportunity to be present here today in our midst.?



Dr Nilukshi Abeyasinghe, President of SLAIHEE moved the Vote of Thanks, thanking the participants, the presenters, Professor Lalitha Mendis - for her Keynote Address, the Guest-of Honour the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Colombo, the Abstract reviewers, the funders, including Sarec/Sweden, SDC staff and the Organizing Committee - for collegially contributing to a successful conference.

The Conference Organizing Committee comprised of; Mrs Shrinika Weerakoon, Dr Nilukshi Abeyasinghe, Professor Suki Ekaratne, Dr Kumudu Kusum Kumara, Dr Enoka Corea, Dr Vasantha Devasiri, Mr P. Dias, Dr Prasanna Ratnaweera and Mr Krishantha Fedricks.



Eight Abstracts were accepted and presented at the Fourth Annual SDC-SLAIHEE Conference, after peer-review. They were presented under two sub-themes, and their titles are given below, in the order of presentation. For the full abstract, and e-mail addresses of authors, please click on SLAIHEE News letters , Volume 6.

Presentations were based on two sub-themes, within the CONFERENCE THEME Using Teaching to Expand Range of Skills Development in Students and Staff. The presentations were based on the following sub-themes and abstracts;


SUB-THEME A: Using Teaching to Develop Skills in our lecturers, post-graduate students and Law under-graduates

  1. In-class Tutorials and Group Work, A methodology to Develop Application abilities - Subha Fernando, Udayanthi Weerasooriya, Indika Karunaratne, Upeksha Ganegoda, Faculty of Information Technology, University of Moratuwa, Moratuwa

  2. The use of a modified Case Study method that developed multiple learning approaches in Statistics Undergraduates to develop Higher-order Skills - D.P. Kuruppumullage, Department of Statistics, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka

  3. Creative application of Teaching Methods as Effective Teaching Tools for Large Classes in Higher Education. S.L. Wimalasena and U.K. Thalgaspitiya, Department of Human Resources Management, Faculty of Management Studies and Commerce, University of Sri Jayewardenepura

  4. Skill Development Opportunities perceived by Second Year NDT students at University of Moratuwa. S.C. Mathugama, Institute of Technology, University of Moratuwa, Moratuwa


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