Soft skills team
Dr. Arosha Adikaram – Deputy Coordinator Soft Skills
Dr. M. Ganeshamoorthy/Mr. M.T.M. Mahees: Arts
M. Vithanapathirana: Education
Mr. M.A.M. Hakeem: Law
Ruwangi Chandrasekara: Management & Finance
Prof. Manouri Senanayake/Dr. Asela Olupeliyawa: Medicine
Prof.P.V. Udagama: Science
Dr. Sugath Senerath: Sri Palee
Soft skills activities
Soft skills development was not a topic discussed much in the past. Therefore soft skills development was not very familiar to some of the academics in the university. Due to the objectives of the HETC-UDG project discussions were started in the academic circles and therefore helped to raise awareness about the importance of the development of soft skills in undergraduates. This awareness itself is an achievement since academics in future have this in mind when designing course units.
Under the Soft skills development component of the UDG project, each faculty of the University of Colombo hired a consultant to incorporate soft skills development components to the existing curricula. Faculties of Arts, Education, Law, Medicine, Management & Finance and Science completed the consultancies and the academics are happy about the changes introduced to improve the soft skills of the undergraduates. Since the final year students are not going to be benefitted much from this curriculum revision, a series of workshops were conducted to improve relevant soft skills development in them with either the hired consultant or resource persons with in the University system. Since the soft skills development is going to be one of the important aspect to be developed in the graduates faculties of Arts, Science, Management & Finance and Sripalee campus established soft skills development centres and equipped them through the UDG project. These facilities will be used for the purpose of soft skills development in the future. Embedding soft skills development components in the curriculum itself does not help in developing soft skills in the undergraduates, and the trainers also has to be trained on this aspect. Therefore train the trainer workshops were conducted in most of the faculties for the academic staff to train them in methods of soft skills development.
Sustainability of some of the activities such as workshops for the development of soft skills was considered towards the end of the project. A video competition was held in the Faculty of Management & Finance on soft skills development. The three winning videos are to be used in the future for soft skill development in the faculty. These videos are going to be shared among other faculties as well.
The link to the blog about the video competition held under soft skills for Faculty of Management & Finance
In some faculties such as Medicine there are soft skills development components already in place in the curriculum, however after considering what type of new skills are needed to be developed in medical graduates, patient interviews was selected to be improved. This is important in effective patient management since gathering of the information for diagnosis including the past history is dependent on the quality and the effectiveness of the interview. A new web-monitored CCTV camera system was procured to monitor simulation programs for doctor-patient interviews. Here the students will role play doctor patient interviews and a reviewer can monitor it and give comments for improvement. If the real patients are involved ethical rules will be adhered to. The patients are informed of the recordings prior to these sessions and only the patients’ who are willing to participate will be involved in this exercise.
In the Faculty of Science Soft skills centre was newly established. It was well equipped with 20 computers. In fact soft skills enhancement of science undergraduates of the University of Colombo has been in place since the early 2000 but was limited only to the general degree final year (Level III) students, in both Biological and Physical Sciences. The Faculty offered an enhancement course on Career & Personal Development (EC 3015), conducted exclusively by the Association of Human Resources Professionals; An Internship Training programme (FS 3001) was initiated from 2008 onwards.
Through the UDG project, the Career Guidance Unit of the Faculty was able to introduce Career & Personal Development from Level I through Level III, where a one credit enhancement course each was introduced to the curriculum at Levels I (EC 1015) and II (EC 2015), in 2012 and 2013, respectively. The contents of EC 1015 deal with concepts of personal development such as managing emotions, achieving autonomy and interdependence, developing mature interpersonal relationships, establishing identity, developing purpose, developing integrity, at an introductory level, through workshops (one per semester). EC 2015 will build on the concepts introduced in EC 1015, and further enhance aspects of personal development outlined in the EC 1015 syllabus, through workshops (one per semester) and a few related activities during both semesters.
Career Planning (EC 2016) as an enhancement course for Level I students was also introduced through UDG project funding. Research has demonstrated that students with chosen career paths are more focused in their academic endeavours. This course is designed to introduce students to career and life planning concepts and how to apply these to their own lives. Students will participate in experiential activities to assist them in their own career planning process. i.e. Exploration and assessment of career values, occupational interests, skills, personality style, work environment preferences; specialization and career exploration; exposure to career and occupational information resources. Students will learn and practice job search strategies and tools, including resumes and interviewing skills; decision-making, goal-setting and action planning that will involve reading, experiential exercises and activities, small group discussions, and written exercises. Trained academics will function as career counseling advisors, who will guide students to identify a possible career path and to devise an action plan to reach that goal.
The following courses were introduced through the UDG funding by the Career Guidance Unit of the Faculty of science:
- EC 1015- Career & Personal Development I (1 Enhancement Credit for Level I)
- EC 2015 – Career & Personal Development II ( 1 Enhancement Credit for Level II)
- EC 1016 – Career Planning ((1 Enhancement Credit for Level I)
- FS 3002/4002- Service Learning (8 Academic Credits for Levels III/IV)
With the introduction of the above 3 courses in conjunction with Service Learning (FS 3012) and Enterprise, Entrepreneurship & Innovation (EC 2020) during 2012, enabled the faculty to offer a comprehensive career Learning programme to the undergraduates. These courses will be sustained through funds raised by the Career Guidance Alumni Association of the Faculty of Science, University of Colombo.
Soft skills centre established in the Sripalee Campus is being used for soft skills development activities of the students such as discussing certain artefacts, watching and reviewing films etc. which gives students opportunity to develop soft skills in informal way.