Applied Sport Science Workshops: Sri Lanka 10th–25th July 2010
Workshop one for university staff in Sri Lanka, held at The Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka
This is the second time that staff from Durham University has visited Sabaragamuwa University to deliver workshops on the area of sport science. The first workshop delivered in the summer of 2009 and was very theoretical in nature. Following this the aim of the second visit was to deliver a syllabus that was much more applied in nature. The workshops were designed to ensure that the staff had a good grasp of the testing protocols that are currently used in the UK. As a result the sessions were predominately practical in nature with a detailed work book supporting each session and including directions for future reading. The workshop ran for three days and considered topics including the assessment of the athlete including lung function body composition assessment and methods to assess aerobic and anaerobic fitness.
The staff workshop was presented to Academic Staff and Sport Coaches from across Sri Lanka (Universities represented were Sabaragamuwa, Jaffna, Moroauwa, Ruhna and Peradenya including staff from the Sri Lankan Olympic Medical support team). Overall the workshop was a great success with delegates overcoming initially shyness to participate fully in all aspects of the programme. The equipment and techniques presented were new to the majority of the delegates. A number had reported that they had read about the ideas being presented but had never undertaken practical assessments of this nature. They were very keen to further their knowledge which was evidenced by the number of questions relevant to the content of the workshop. There were, however times during the lectures and practical sessions where the audience failed to fully grasp the content. This may be a result of their limited knowledge of the techniques currently used to enhance physical performance in the UK, or the fact that the equipment, though basic was novel to them. A second area of concern was the very limited sport facilities available for testing. There is currently no large open sporting area at Sabaragamuwa University where testing can take place, this resulted in the delegates have to use a large expanse of cleared land that was not ideal and did cause some problems with the testing protocols, however these are minor issues.
From the perspective of the member of staff responsible for the delivery of the workshop I believe that the 2010 workshop was much more successful than the 2009 sessions. The workshops were a pleasure to deliver and I gained a great deal of satisfaction from the wholehearted participation of the delegates. The delegates are more enthusiastic with practical based activities that they can then take away and use at their own institutions. I believe that the delegates gained a great deal of technical knowledge from the workshop and it is only a matter of time until they begin to utilise this in both their academic and sporting roles.
Quotes from staff feedback sheets:
- "Very effective practical based scientific workshop, I gathered a sound knowledge of basic and advanced concepts in selected areas".
- "Very effective information and practical sessions, the knowledge of the Durham staff is exceptional".
- "Really this workshop was very useful for myself because I got new techniques and teaching tips. Durham staff excellent and calm".
- Closing presentation with the Vice Chancellor, Dean of Social Sciences Sabaragamuwa University and Durham University Staff.
- Academic Staff preparing for practical workshop at Sabaragamuwa University.
Workshop two (for students) - Sabaragamuwa University
This was a very enjoyable workshop to deliver; the students on the sport course at Sabaragamuwa University are enthusiastic and participated fully in all the activities. This particular element of the programme was a two and a half day workshop that mirrored the workshop delivered to the academic staff. The sessions were delivered to over 120 students currently studying at the university and I was assisted by the Durham undergraduates currently based in Sri Lanka. As before there were some theory elements but the majority of the workshop was of a practical nature. The students at Sabaragamuwa University have very limited equipment knowledge. As a result there were some issues regarding the time available to fully teach them the skills to fully utilise things completely. If you combined with the large number of participants (~120), it would have been more appropriate if more time/equipment was available to allow the students to gain a full understanding of the how and why to use what equipment was available. The practical elements introduced the students to basic concepts used in the application sport science. This was designed to build on what was delivered last year but a number of the current 2nd year students, (participants last year), did not fully grasp these links. This may be a result of the nature of their particular course or the fact that it was delivered last year and has not been mentioned again until our return. Throughout the workshop the Sri Lankan students appeared to really enjoy all aspects delivered by the Durham University team. They were introduced to a completely different teaching style and concept of learning, (practical based activities), and they were very appreciative and gained a great deal of information from practitioners currently working in this fast evolving environment.
Quotes from student feedback sheets:
- "This programme is very hard and very good. We can develop our sport knowledge and skills".
- "Thanks Durham, great job; hope to have experiences with you next year too".
- "It was a hard time but we learnt so many things and had nice experiences".
- Staff briefing students prior to a practical session.
- Sabaragamuwa University 1st year Sport Students and Durham staff
Workshop three - for staff members, Colombo University
This was the first time Durham staff have delivered sport related topics to Colombo University. The workshop was again 3 days in duration and was delivered to academic staff from the Faculty of Medicine and to physiotherapy students currently studying at the University. The workshop followed the same format as the initial one delivered to the staff at Sabaragamuwa University. The staff and students at this institution had a much greater physiological knowledge than previous delegates. This resulted in a much more interactive workshop, particularly with respect to the three doctors from the Faculty of Medicine. During the initial session the student delegates were a little reticent with respect to answering questions posed, however this initial reserved attitude was overcome to result in a successful workshop. Additionally the delegates had some experience of the initial practical workshop (body composition and lung function assessment). However the practical element still ran and it became apparent that they fully understood the theory but their practical skills were more limited particularly with respect to body composition assessment. We focused on this and again despite some cultural differences with respect to the female delegates exposed skin I believe that they improved the techniques in this particular area. The field based elements of the workshop (day 2 & 3) were novel, again the delegates wholeheartedly participated in the activities. There were a plethora of questions that arose out of these activities with respect of how they could be administered to different populations and subgroups with both a health and sporting context. As with the earlier workshops, I believe that the delegates gained a great deal of technical knowledge from the workshop and it is only a matter of time until they begin to utilise this in both their academic and sporting roles.
Robert Cramb (Teaching Fellow in Exercise Physiology), assisted by Sam Tennant (2nd year BA Sport Degree student).