Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Should we rethink evaluation methods used for university students in Sri Lankan University system?

 Should we rethink evaluation methods used for university students in Sri Lankan University system?

The traditional approach to evaluation in universities worldwide, including Sri Lanka has long been centered around exams, quizzes, and grades. However, there is a growing recognition that this method may not fully capture students' true capabilities, strengths, and potential. As a result, there has been a call to rethink evaluation strategies in universities and explore alternative methods that promote a more comprehensive and holistic assessment of students' learning.

The final examination in university can indeed have negative consequences for students, including academic setbacks, increased stress, limited learning focus, limited feedback and growth opportunities, reduced exploration of other interests, and a negative impact on mental health resulting in severe depression.  It is crucial for educational institutions to consider these consequences and adopt assessment approaches that prioritize holistic learning, individual growth, and student well-being. While it is well-known among academics that final examinations can have negative consequences for students, as former university students ourselves, are we truly prepared to initiate meaningful change in the assessment methods used?

One such approach gaining attraction is the shift towards more project-based assessments. By engaging students in real-world projects and assignments, universities can evaluate their ability to apply knowledge, think critically, solve problems, collaborate, and communicate effectively. This not only provides a more practical and relevant evaluation but also helps students develop important skills that are highly valued in the job market. Recently, the  language students of the Department of Languages, Cultural Studies and Performing Arts at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura organized a food festival representing different cultures. Organizing a cultural food festival provided them with valuable soft skills. They enhance their communication by coordinating with various stakeholders, develop teamwork abilities through collaboration, and improve problem-solving skills by addressing challenges. Time management became crucial in planning and executing the event, while leadership skills were honed in taking on a leadership role. Cultural awareness was fostered through interactions with diverse cuisines and attendees, and adaptability is learned by adjusting to changing circumstances. Overall, organizing a food festival equipped them with a range of transferable skills that benefit their personal and professional growth. At the end of the food festival,  Second year French students who were enrolled for the course unit on French culture and civilization were asked to write reflective notes and their feedback on the event which was used as an efficient tool for evaluation. Third year French student from French for Business Purposes Course unit were asked to conduct an onsite survey on the customer satisfaction with the Food festival which they executed successfully by collecting data and analyzing the data which was used as an assessment for grading. These are  some simple examples of projects that can be used in language studies evaluation.

Another aspect to consider in rethinking evaluation is the incorporation of continuous assessment. Instead of relying solely on high-stakes exams, continuous assessment involves ongoing evaluation throughout the duration of a course. This can include assignments, presentations, group work, and reflective journals. By assessing students' progress over time, universities can gain a deeper understanding of their learning trajectories and provide more personalized feedback and support. It is crucial to recognize the value of formative assessment in addition to summative assessment. While summative assessment focuses on measuring the final outcomes of learning, formative assessment provides ongoing feedback during the learning process. This helps students identify areas for improvement, adjust their learning strategies, and enhance their overall understanding of the subject matter. Even though these practices were already implemented in our university system, there is a tendency of assessing students only towards the end of the course units or collecting assessments after final examinations or rather seen as an extra burden for students. These practices should be integrated into ongoing course units and time management and assignment planning of the lecturers and the commitment of the students play a key role in the succusses of the above methods.


In the digital age, technology can also play a significant role in rethinking evaluation. Online platforms, interactive simulations, virtual labs, and multimedia presentations can provide innovative ways to assess student's knowledge and skills. Additionally, digital tools can facilitate peer-to-peer assessment and self-assessment, promoting student engagement and empowerment in the evaluation process. In my opinion, learning and evaluation should be enjoyable and engaging and creative experiences for university students which we were deprived of back then.


Overall, rethinking evaluation in Sri Lankan universities involves moving away from a narrow focus on exams and grades and embracing a more inclusive, practical, and personalized approach. By incorporating project-based assessments, formative assessments, and leveraging technology, universities can foster a more meaningful and comprehensive evaluation system that aligns with the evolving needs of students and society.


Charitha Liyanage

Lecturer in French

Department of Languages and Cultural Studies and Performing Arts USJ


Sunday, May 7, 2023

My sweet Love...

In her presence, I find endless delight,

Her beauty shining like stars in the night.

With each passing moment, my love grows deep,

For she's the one who makes my heart leap.

She is everything, my world complete,

A love so pure, forever to keep.

Her eyes, like oceans, captivate my soul,

In their depths, I find a love untold.

With her, time seems to simply stand still,

In her embrace, all worries are nil.

Her smile brightens even the darkest of days,

Filling my world with warmth in countless ways.

I am a king, when she is by my side,

With her love, I feel a sense of pride.

Her touch, a gentle caress, sets me free,

Wrapped in her arms, where I'm meant to be.

So here's to my love, my guiding light,

A love so strong, burning ever so bright.

With her, I have found pure ecstasy,

Forever together, our love's symphony.

-By Manu Fernando (AI)

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Sweet Nothings - Short Story


I killed him.


He didn't move. Blood was flowing from his body. I realized he was dead. But I didn't feel anything, not even a hint of remorse. He had been dead in my heart for a long time. I had never killed anyone before, not even an animal. I always believed that taking a life was a grave sin. But strangely, standing before his lifeless body, I didn't feel the terrible regret that overwhelms me every time I kill a mosquito that tries to suck my blood. Mosquitoes only take my blood, but he had sucked my soul dry. I believe I was right to kill him. Who can judge me? Who can punish me? God, if such a being exists, or Buddha, who died a long time ago?


I killed him because I loved him. I loved him more than my own life. I couldn't bear the thought of him living without me, breathing without me, existing on this earth without me. I had never loved a man like this before, and it had made me paranoid. When I saw men filling the streets, the offices, and the public transport, I started to hate them so much for their overwhelming presence on this planet. I wanted to see him everywhere, to make the world revolve around him, to have him be the only man on earth. I loved him so much that he began to hate me, to ignore me, to leave me alone in the dark, and eventually to leave me coldly.


I killed him because I wanted him to go to heaven quickly and be reborn quickly (I am a faithful believer). He had promised me that he would be the man of my life in the next life. He had no plans to live with me in this life. Actually, he didn't even promise me that. I suggested to him that we would be together in the next life, and he accepted it to console me for the grief he caused me. I believe in heaven as a refuge because I want him to be safe and sound as soon as I arrive. Now I worry about hell. What nonsense people talk about that place! I'm sure it doesn't exist!


Like all women, I didn't want to wait patiently. Living takes time. Waking up every day, working, eating, peeing, traveling, sleeping – life is always slow. This slowness irritated me, and I became furious. I couldn't wait for him to grow old slowly with his girlfriend and change his plans along the way. If she changed her mind and decided to live with him in the next life too, I was certainly screwed.


When I cut his throat, exactly where I had kissed him, I felt the same happiness as when I kissed him. The blood that touched my lips was warm, it tasted like him. I'm sure I didn't give him a very difficult death. He didn't have time to think or even see me because we had turned off the lights. I sniffed the blood like a tigress, I craved him, even at that moment. The irresistible warmth remained in his body, and I kissed him all over, taking my time. It wasn't madness or burning passion, but immense tranquility, a meditation on love.


I killed him because he wouldn't listen to me in this life.

"Darling, I love you. Do you love me?" I asked him this question two or three times until I lost all my dignity. He responded only once, in a short email where he declared his love for me: "Darling, I love you. I think about you a lot when I masturbate."


I had never been happier in my life with those sweet little words. My friend called him a jerk, but I found him adorable. Men should never reveal their "true" feelings to women because they will later use them against them. They are never discreet; even angelic women have an annoying side when they are hurt.


I also hated his enthusiasm for living without me, his favorite vacations with his friends, his birthday with his parents, his job that kept him busy, and his adventures with the girls he found "very cool." I didn't have a specific place in his life; I felt like his favorite pastime or the exotic bird he had no intention of keeping. He would come to see me from time to time, give me illusions of love, and then leave. He knew I loved him with an intense passion like in novels. It was too much for him; "too much love," he said. It was my only flaw. He didn't want to show his emotions like I did. But he loved me. I knew that, otherwise, why would I kill him?


His severed head is among these words. The police will come to investigate. I will soon escape, and they will not find me. It's funny; they will try to find the criminal, the cause of this cruel death. They will wipe the blood that has turned black from his throat and transport him to a hospital. Journalists will take many photos from various camera angles. I will watch them, and he will also watch them, smiling with his sparkling eyes. They will await justice for his life, by the law. But he and I do not wait for anything. I know he won't hate me; he will forgive me, shaking his head gently. He will kiss me, his killer, cuddle me with such passion. He will not judge me, ever.


I am overjoyed, an unbearable euphoria. Are there happy criminals? I am lucky. The suffering is over, the waiting is over, the pain is over, and he and I are over too. True happiness begins with his death.


Today, he died at 23.59hrs.


Tomorrow, we will be together at 00.01hrs. But we still have to wait.

By Jahooli Devi

French version of the same story :