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Published:Sunday | May 2, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Sports sciences degree expands professional training

Research has indicated that there is a severe shortage of sports professionals in Jamaica, the Caribbean, Latin America and Africa. It has been estimated that Jamaica needs an additional 200 football coaches, 200 sport health science personnel, (excluding doctors), 300 sport managers for elite athletics, teams and associations and other related specialists in order to respond to the needs of the national programme of sports development.

The new Bachelor of Science degree in Sports Sciences offered by the Faculty of Science and Sport at the University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech) has been specially designed to meet this demand for sports professional training.

Dr Colin Gyles, acting dean of the Faculty of Science and Sport, notes that "UTech currently enjoys a world reputation for training athletes to the highest level of athletic competition", adding that "in order to be sustainable in this regard, the university is now moving to transform physical strength and competition into sustainable academic work and scientific research".

At a luncheon with leaders from the local sports fraternity held on Friday, April 16, Dr Neville Graham, head of the Caribbean School of Sport Sciences, explained that the BSc in Sports Sciences will be delivered for the first time in September 2010 at the start of the new academic year, and is designed to provide hands-on practical experience for practitioners in various areas of sport. It will be delivered over four years on a full-time basis and provides students with three exciting options for specialisation in the art and science of coaching; sports management and sports athletic training (sport physiotherapy and conditioning). Modules include methodology of teaching sports and physical fitness; applied sports performance analysis; sports journalism; sports marketing; sports laws and ethics; medical therapeutics and doping in sports; sports tourism management; sports nutrition and fluid management and biomechanics; kinesiology and sports psychology.

For further information, contact the admissions office at 927-1680-8, extension 2329 or 3222.

UWI notebook

UWI assisting students reading below grade level

A new approach to assisting students who are reading below grade level has resulted in encouraging results across the region. The Caribbean Centre of Excellence for Teacher Training (CCETT) project was established in 2002 under an agreement between the University of the West Indies, Mona, and USAID-Washington with the Institute of Education/Joint Board of Teacher Education (JBTE) at Mona as the executing agency.

The project's overall aim was to improve the competence of teachers in literacy education in order to improve the literacy proficiency of students in the first three years of primary education. The project was effected through five critical components: diagnostic and performance assessment of children; development of teaching and learning materials; specialised training for reading specialists, teachers and principals; action research; development of information technology interactive platform. The project started in five countries (Jamaica, Belize, Guyana, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and St Lucia). Subsequently, eight other Caribbean countries have come on stream (Anguilla, Antigua, BVI, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Kitts & Nevis, Trinidad & Tobago) and have been implementing the CCETT approach in their primary education systems. The initial CCETT project involved 68 schools, approximately 12,000 students across the five original CCETT countries, 10 teachers' colleges and five ministries of education.

A key requirement of the project was that all interventions in schools be undertaken in the form of action research initiatives. These provided empirical data on the impact and effectiveness, and encouraged reflection on the meaning of the results in light of the objectives that the initiatives were seeking to achieve.

The benchmarks for the outcomes of the project were to have 80 per cent of students "Not At Risk" for reading failure and 60 per cent reading at or above grade-expectancy level by the end of Grade 3. This was based on the Caribbean Reading Standards Achievement Test.

The results show a reduction in the 'at-risk' population from 49 per cent in 2003 compared to 20 per cent in June 2009. Females moved from 41 per cent 'at risk' in 2003 to 13 per cent in 2009. Males moved from 57 per cent in 2003 to 27 per cent in 2009. The benchmark of 80 per cent being 'not at risk' was, therefore, met in the 2008-2009 academic year. The population of students who achieved 'mastery' in 2003 was 26 per cent as compared to 55 per cent in 2009. Females achieved the distinction of moving from 33 per cent in 2003 to 64 per cent 'mastery' in 2009, thereby surpassing the benchmark of 60 per cent. Males moved 27 percentage points from a low of 19 per cent in 2003 to 46 per cent in 2009.

An important outcome was that each college had improved resources with well-equipped literacy centres established. College students had the benefit of hands-on experiences by participating in administration of tests in the field; they learned how to administer standardised tests. The reading specialists placed in each college continuously brought the lessons learned from the field into the college experience thus sensitising the lecturers to the CCETT approach.

Teachers have learned how to utilise test results to inform their instructional approach. They have adopted an approach of 'assessment for learning' rather than 'assessment of learning'.