Title: New directions in teaching, learning and evaluation of
chemical sciences at tertiary level in Sri Lanka
CCE Flying chemists program
- 2006 visit to Sri Lanka
Atkins, Colin Baird,
Ram Lamba, and Ingrid
Completion Date: 2006 - project completed
To replace the currently practicing knowledge based education in Chemical
Sciences at tertiary level with modern methods by empowering academics
with relevant knowledge and skills. Focus will be on novel teaching,
learning and evaluation methods with an emphasis on curriculum development,
new assessment methods and evaluation tools.
The science education process in Sri Lanka has faced a serious problem
in the recent years. Higher education is available only for about 6%
of the applicants each year due to lack of state university facilities.
From state universities, the major producer of science graduates in
the country, only about 45% complete the degree whilst others opt for
low paid jobs prior to completion of the degree (N.B. The job insecurity
after graduation being the major reason). Despite the low number of
science graduates produced by state universities the unemployment rate
of science graduates is as high as 50%. The reason for this, as envisaged
by the developing industrial sector in the country, is the poor quality
of graduates lacking relevant skills such as innovativeness, intellectual
skills, independent working ability, decision making ability etc. Unemployed
graduates' frustration is causing problem in the country.
The root course for low quality graduates, has been identified as due
to traditional teaching methods still largely practiced in SL. In turn,
regrettably, there has been no opportunity for university academics
to educate or improve themselves on novel teaching methods. No attempt
has ever been made to address this issue by the higher education sector
To initiate the modernization in the science teaching at tertiary level,
a group of academics in the Chemical Sciences held a preliminary meeting
in SL on the 25 July 2005, with two representatives from RSC and IUPAC.
After a lengthy discussion, the following activities were recommended
to improve the present system:
- Reinvigorating the syllabi (theory and practicals)
- Incorporation of novel teaching assessment and evaluation methods
into the existing course unit system.
- Learn to deal with the course unit system to reap maximum benefits
To achieve the above, a conference is planned now by the SL academics
in Chemical Sciences. Four foreign experts in Chemical Science are expected
to educate the local contingency. The conference will take the form
of plenary lectures followed by small group discussions and is planned
for two days. A document covering the essence of lectures and discussions
at the conference will be prepared to be used as guidelines in the future.
The improved participants will adapt, develop and use the knowledge
in their own environment for effective teaching learning and evaluation
thus help state universities to produce more adaptable, better science
graduates for the country. This modernization process, initiated by
the Chemical Sciences, will induce other disciplines to take similar
action and therefore a greater overall change in the education system
is expected from this conference.
A conference titled "Towards modernizing Chemical Science Education
in Sri Lankan Universities" will be organized on 11-12 March 2006
at the Taj Samudra Hotel in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Discussions and workshops will be led by the following lectures:
- Why do Students Resort to Rote Memory and Recipe Following?
by Ram S. Lamba
- Educating a Chemist: the Challenge and the Opportunity
by Peter W. Atkins
- Introducing Environmental Chemistry and Classroom Discussion
Methods into the Curriculum
by Norman Colin Baird
- New Directions in Teaching Organic Chemistry: an Inquiry -Based
by Ingrid Montes
Sponsors: IUPAC, Royal Society of Chemistry (London) and University
Grants Commission (UGC) of Sri Lanka.
project completed - a conference report has been published in
Last update: 7 August 2006
want to update this information, contact us by e-mail
Do not forget to include the Project Number,
your name and relation with that project