The Department of Sport Sciences and Physical Education (SSPE), Sabaragamuwa University, Sri Lanka, has earned a reputation as a leader in sports education and has been recognized nationally since 2008 for the delivery of two full-time undergraduate degrees in Physical Education and Sport Sciences & Management. Students complete two action research studies in partial fulfillment of the requirements for both degrees. Both group and individual action research are conducted based on sports such as volleyball, track & field, basketball, netball, swimming, badminton, hockey, etc. A research gap or deficiencies of the selected sport is identified with an action plan as a remedial measure that is then carried out through group and individual action research. The action plan is implemented over a period of 8-12 weeks after conducting a pre-test. Pre-test and post-test scores are analyzed, and a final project report is submitted. Different kinds of physiological, bio mechanical and technical issues in several sports have been addressed through these action research projects. Project outcomes indicate positive impacts on the knowledge gaining experience of the undergraduate students and on the reputation of the university department.
Action research has been carried out by undergraduate and post graduate students in Sri Lanka for more than 50 years. The National Institute of Education and the Faculties and Departments of the University of Colombo, Open University of Sri Lanka and University of Peradeniya have guided students in conducting action research (Kodituwakku, 2017). However, the contributions of Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka to action research in the fields of Physical Education and Sport Sciences & Management have not yet been published. The present article focuses on the development of action research associated with two courses of study in Sabaragamuwa University. Document analysis and content analysis methods were used to synthesize the historical development patterns of action research in Physical Education and Sport Sciences & Management. The curriculum related to action research in the two courses and the two types of action research utilized (Group and Individual) are discussed. Finally, sample abstracts of completed action research projects are examined to help readers better understand the nature of Physical Education and Sport Sciences in Sri Lanka as well as the application of action research in these fields.
Historical Development of Sports Sciences in Sri Lanka
During the early 1990s, the Sri Lankan government adopted a new concept of “University Affiliated Colleges.” The Sabaragamuwa Affiliated University College (SAUC) was one such institution formed in affiliation with University of Sri Jayewardenepura. It was established at Belihuloya in Sabaragamuwa Province, Sri Lanka on 20th November 1991, and the SAUC was ceremoniously declared open by His Excellency R. Premadasa, then President of Sri Lanka, on 8th February 1992. Academic programs of the SAUC commenced on 7th May 1992. With the elevation of the Affiliated University Colleges to full-fledged national Universities in 1996, three Affiliated University Colleges – Sabaragamuwa Affiliated University College, Uva Affiliated University College and Buttala Affiliated University College – were amalgamated to form the Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka (SUSL). At present, the university consists of eight faculties, namely, Agricultural Sciences, Applied Sciences, Geomatics, Management Studies, Social Sciences and Languages, Medicine, Technology & Graduate Studies.
At present, the Faculty of Applied Sciences consists of five departments, including, Department of Food Sciences & Technology, Department of Natural Resources, Department of Physical Sciences & Technology, Department of Computing & Information Systems, and Department of Sport Sciences & Physical Education. The Department of Sport Sciences and Physical Education (SSPE) is one of the fastest growing departments in the Faculty of Applied Sciences. The department was established in March 2011, though the Degree programs were initiated in 2008. The Department of SSPE has a high reputation and has been recognized nationally as a leader in the delivery of two undergraduate full time Bachelor of Science (Honors) degree programmes on Physical Education and Sport Sciences & Management. The popularity of these degree programs attracts highly qualified students to SUSL.
Sport science is the study of how the healthy human body works during exercise, and how sport and physical activity promote health – physically, mentally and socially. The study of sport science calls upon and uses many other academic disciplines namely, physiology, psychology, exercise biochemistry, biomechanics and anatomy. Curriculum topics include what is happening in a sports person’s body, the role of the mind in performance, nutrition, and business and sports management. Teaching is conducted through lectures, seminars, laboratory sessions (to study exercise physiology and biomechanics), practice sessions (in gyms, fitness rooms, swimming pools and outdoor pitches) and independent/group action research.
Action Research in the Curriculum of Two Undergraduate Degrees
Undergraduate students complete two action research projects (one in Year 3 semester II and a second in Year 4 semester I) in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Bachelor of Science (special) Degree in Sport Sciences and Management & Bachelor of Science (special) Degree in Physical Education. For these projects, group action research is completed by students who are in Year 3 semester II & an individual action research project is completed by students in Year 4 semester I.
Both group and individual action research projects are conducted on common sports such as volleyball, track & field events, basketball, netball, swimming, badminton, hockey etc. Group action research is conducted by a group of students who have selected the same sport as their selected specialization sport. After the successful completion of the group action research, students then conduct their individual action research on their specialization sport.
Group Action Research
For group projects, undergraduate students select from a list of sports for which ten or more candidates have expressed interest. A coordinator is nominated by the department to coordinate the action research projects and each selected sport group is supervised by a relevant supervisor under the coordinator. The group proceeds to identify a research gap or deficiencies in relation to the selected sport and an action plan is formulated and applied by the group. The action plans are utilized over a period of 8-12 weeks under the guidance of the supervisor. When developing the action plan, theories of periodization, training principles, training methods and other theories have to be considered, with guidance in reading the theories provided by the supervisors. Furthermore, proper research methodology guidelines such as sampling techniques, study population, study sample, testing protocol and data analyzing and data interpretation techniques are strictly considered while conducting the action research.
As a part of project development the department organizes workshops relevant to particular sports on the following themes
- Tactics of the game (Attacking & Defending)
- Formation systems (Attacking & Defending)
- Match Systems
- Planning of training
- Training Sessions
- Role of the Coach
- Statistics, especially for the sport
- Different types of game situation drills.
Individual Action Research
When the individual action research projects are being organized, each student is required to complete an action research minor project related to the selected sport. Students submit a project report and prepare a presentation of their findings. The individual projects address the following areas, and the department organizes workshops relevant to these areas for the particular sports:
- Refereeing & officiating
- Match and techniques analyzing
- Coaching practice
- Code of ethics of the coaches
- Coaching of the match and coach’s behavior
- Advance training for evaluations of the techniques and tactics.
Students are allowed to continue individual action research on the sport which they selected for group action research. A coordinator is nominated by the department to coordinate the action research projects and each selected sport is supervised by a relevant supervisor under the coordinator.
Impact of Action Research at SUSL
According to the history of the Department of Sport Sciences & Physical Education of Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka, academic activities for the first batch of students (2008/2009) were initiated in 2011. By the time of the present study, there is a history of eleven cohorts, and seven batches of students have been graduated. Action research was introduced in 2014, and at present the department of Sport Sciences & Physical Education has six years of experience with action research. More than 800 action research projects have been published in the annual symposium of Sabaragamuwa University.
A maximum effort is taken by the Department of Sport Sciences & Physical Education to properly guide a good action research experience, with improvement of each researcher’s knowledge and skills as projects develop and are completed. Several kinds of workshops, lecturers and resources are provided by the department for the purpose of improving the quality of the action research. Some of the action research has been published in national & international symposiums (Kumarihami 2019).
All this action research has contributed to Sport Sciences and Physical Education in a number of ways. Some action research studies have investigated effects of different kinds of training modules such as aquatic training, Thera band exercise modules, plyometric trainings, etc. The investigations of physiological, biomechanical and biochemical changes & development due to different kinds of training modules in various sports have also been conducted by students (Kumarihami 2019). Furthermore, the findings of some of the action research have been applied to national sports, school sports teams, community sectors and mercantile sectors as well.
Abstracts of Action Researches
Although Kodituwakku (2017) summarized the historical development of Sri Lankan action research, no attention was paid to the action research tradition in Sport Sciences in Sri Lanka. This article addresses this gap. To identify some patterns of action research in sport sciences two abstracts are presented below.
Develop Movement speed & Double dodging attacking skill for selected center court Netball players in Sabaragamuwa University Netball team
D. M. Dinkey Nilankani Bandara and T. P. Liyanage (2019)
Netball is an exciting, fast and skillful game. It is a game in which two teams of seven players keep or gain possession of the ball. The team with the ball, attempts to move the ball into its goal circle from where a goal may be scored. Movement speed is a relationship between speed and several movement patterns. Movement speed requires good strength and power and aim to develop team play moving forward by giving the attacking players passing options. This helps the player to practice to use a double dodge in order to outwit a defender. It is used when the first dodge did not work properly and the defender is still with you. This paper examines the action taken to develop movement speed and double dodging attacking skill for selected center court netball players on the Sabaragamuwa University Netball Team. Four center court players (N = 4) were selected as a sample (ages about 20-24) from the Sabaragamuwa university team. Data were gathered by using a physical fitness test, a teacher-designed Cone Circuit test and observation. Although the sample size was small, the sample represents the center court players adequately. The results of paired t-test indicated that all observed categories were significantly different between pretest and posttest (p < .05), despite the small size, with Cone circuit, p =.007, Shuttle run, p = .016, YoYo test, p = .0005, Sit Up, p = .0005, Standing broad jump, p = .0005,. The study indicated that the workout could have positive effect to develop movement speed and double dodging attacking skill of players.
Comparison of Physical Activity Levels among Advanced Level Students at National Schools in Gampaha Educational Zone
W. A. A. W. Wickramaarachchi, T. P. Liyanage, and R. M. K. T. Rathnayaka (2019)
Physical activity is any physical movement resulting in energy expenditure. Energy expenditure as a whole is what researchers can examine to determine levels of physical activity in the body. In Sri Lanka there is a noted lack of physical activity and exercise. This is tied to major diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetics, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, etc. The main objective of this study was to analyze the physical activity levels among advanced level students at national schools in Gampaha Educational Zone. A survey method was used. Data were amassed by using a questionnaire given to advanced level students. Three hundred participants completed a 16 question survey (N = 300), including 153 males and 147 females. A Global Physical Activity Questionnaire was used, which addressed physical activity while working, traveling to and from places and participating in recreational activities. The results indicated that 15% of participating students were in High Physical Activity level, 37% were in the Moderate Physical Activity level and 48% were in the Low Physical Activity level. Overall students’ physical activity levels were at moderate level. The descriptive statistics of the study indicates that male physical activity level mean was 986.2 and female mean was 563.1. According to the Mann- Whitney test results, a significant difference can be seen in physical activity levels of the male and female groups, p = .0005. The study concluded that both male and female students need to increase their physical activity levels. A daily program of 90 minutes or more of physical activity was recommended for school age youth.
The present article focused on the development of action research associated with two courses of study in Sabaragamuwa University, Sri Lanka. Action research is a compulsory subject for both degree programs. At present, the contributions of Sabaragamuwa University to action research in the fields of Physical Education and Sport Sciences & Management have been inadequately represented in the international knowledge base. The present article is a step in the direction of developing global dissemination for Sri Lankan contributions to Physical Education and Sport Science & Management action research.
Dinkey Nilankani Bandara, D. M. & Liyanage, T. P. (2019) Develop movement speed & double dodging attacking skill for selected center court netball players in Sabaragamuwa university netball team. Department of Sports Sciences and Physical Education, Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka.
Kodituwakku, G. (2017) Action research in the Sri Lankan education system: A historical perspective In: Rowell, L. L., Bruce, C. D., Shosh, J. M., & Reil, M. M. (Eds.), The Palgrave International Handbook of Action Research (pp. 279-297). Palgrave: Macmillan.
Kumarihami, JMMTS. (2019) Effect of therapeutic exercise program for the development of fine & gross motor skills of hearing impaired children. International conference for physiotherapists, occupational therapists & speech and language therapists. Department of Sports Sciences and Physical Education, Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka.
Wickramaarachchi W. A. A. W., Liyanage, T. P. & Rathnayaka, R. M. K. T. (2019) Comparison of physical activity levels among advanced level students’ at national schools in Gampaha educational zone. The Second South Asia Conference on Multi-Disciplinary research, 2019, Colombo: Sri Lanka.
To cite this work, please use the following reference:
Liyanage, T. (2021). Action research tradition of sports sciences in Sri Lanka. Retrieved from https://www.socialpublishersfoundation.org/knowledge_base/action-research-tradition-of-sports-sciences-in-sri-lanka/