Setting the tone for the Teachers’ Investiture Ceremony (TIC) held from 5 to 6 July 2017, Mr Ng Chee Meng, Minister for Education (Schools) and Second Minister for Transport, extended his congratulations to all graduands for their exceptional achievements, and encouraged all to continue embracing their passion for shaping the nation’s future.

Setting the example was Mr Aaron Lim, one of the two valedictorians of the first TIC. His personal triumph as one who received the most awards in his cohort, was only made possible because of his teacher.

“Teaching, I believe, is to touch the hearts of my students,” Mr Lim shared, “even better when they too tell me that they want to make a difference and contribute back to society.”

This year, the institute welcomed a total of 1,081 graduands who had successfully completed their education journeys. A highpoint of each academic year, NIE celebrates returning and new teachers into the professional fraternity during this ceremony.

Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) and Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies, Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam addressed the December 2016 cohort of Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) student teachers at the National Institute of Education (NIE) inaugural symposium for the Singapore Kaleidoscope course on 8 March 2017.

The Singapore Kaleidoscope course was launched in December 2016 as part of the Enhanced PGDE 16-month programme. The course aims to instill a deeper and more nuanced appreciation of Singapore and her achievements and challenges. Through appreciative inquiry, experiential learning opportunities, and an innovative technology platform, student learning focuses on three strands central for understanding Singapore: Nature and Biodiversity in Singapore; Singapore’s Society, Culture and Heritage; and Singapore in the World: Regional and Global Opportunities and Pressures. The symposium provides student teachers with a platform to understand the geopolitical realities that confront Singapore today and also allows keynote speakers to share their experiences and perspectives.

At the inaugural opening, DPM Tharman, former Minister for Education from 2003 to 2008, shared some of the challenges and opportunities that have been posed by living in a diverse society, and some of the ways our society can be more innovative and inclusive. In addition, DPM Tharman called for the continued evolution of the school system to provide for more flexibility and fluidity between streams, greater experimentation, and the provision of novel opportunities and pathways for all students to pursue their interests and develop their unique talents. He also stressed the need for greater focus on pre-school and early-years education to help young students develop the capacity to learn throughout their lives as this would allow for continued opportunities for social mobility. It was also noted that these capacities are not limited to academic skills, but include life skills such as having confidence in one’s own abilities, a deep curiosity about others and the world, resilience and the desire to learn.

Building on DPM’s sharing session, students had another opportunity on 26 April 2017 with Ambassador Ong Keng Yong, as he shared some of his diplomatic experiences while he was serving as the Secretary-General of ASEAN. The students learnt some of the challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (FIR) and how the increase of digitisation, artificial intelligence and robotics are affecting societies. However, Ambassador Ong shared that the country will continue to evolve as Singaporeans are good problem solvers.

The 7th Redesigning Pedagogy International Conference (RPIC), one of the largest educational research conferences in Southeast Asia, was held at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) from 31 May to 2 June 2017.

The biennial conference brought together over 1,300 conference participants from 20 different countries, namely Australia, Bahrain, Canada, China, Finland, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Macao, Malaysia, New Zealand, Norway, the Philippines, Qatar, Taiwan, UK and USA. Many local participants came from local and international schools and institutions, the Ministry of Education (MOE), government agencies, and community organisations.

“This conference is definitely a good avenue to learn, especially from overseas educational professors who share about their own experiences from their respective home countries,” said Miss Quah Swee Bee, a local teacher from St Stephen’s School.

More than 407 presentations were featured in the form of keynote addresses, paper sessions, workshops, symposia and poster presentations. A three-day exhibition was also held during the conference, displaying various publishers and educational vendors, along with two school showcases from Teck Whye Secondary School and Yusof Ishak Secondary School.

“As a researcher, I had many opportunities to understand the perspectives of teachers and to communicate with them about a specific research topic such as ‘Flipped Learning’ in this conference,” said Assistant Professor Cho Young Hoan from Seoul National University.

Dr Jack Patel, Assistant Professor and Faculty Development Coordinator at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Asian shared, “As a regular participant at international conferences, I can honestly say that the RPIC has been a resounding success in resonating and stirring up thoughts, discussions and dialogues across various disciplines in education.”

The three-day programme included the launch of the Singapore Teaching Practice (STP) on the first day during the Opening Ceremony by Mr Wong Siew Hoong, Director-General of Education of MOE.

The STP brings together the beliefs of teachers and their practices to describe how effective teaching and learning can be achieved in the Singapore classroom. It is developed in partnership by MOE and NIE. The STP provides the professional language and common reference point for the education fraternity to enhance their professional practice.

The Practicum and Partnerships unit of the Office of Teacher Education (OTE) organised the 3rd Learning Forum on 30 May 2017. The main goal of the forum was to provide a platform for educators and student teachers, to share their current mentoring practices or insights from their research on mentoring. Another goal of the forum was to give NIE student teachers an opportunity to share their learning journeys to the teaching community.

Director of NIE, Professor Tan Oon Seng was the Guest-of-Honour and spoke passionately to more than 200 MOE personnel, principals, vice-principals, teacher-mentors, NIE staff and about 700 Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) students in his welcome address. This was followed by two keynote speakers. Mrs Chua-Lim Yen Ching, Deputy Director General of Education (Professional Development) and Executive Director, Academy of Singapore Teachers, spoke first and inspired the audience with her address, entitled ‘The Gift of Mentoring’. Her talk was then followed by one given by Professor Clare Kosnik, Professor in the Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto (OISE, UT) and Director of the Jackman Institute of Child Studies. Professor Kosnik is also our 2nd Dr Ruth Wong Visiting Professor. She delivered a thought-provoking address entitled ‘Understanding the Complexity of Teaching Practice: Multiple Perspectives and Conflicting Goals’.

Dean of Teacher Education (TE), Associate Professor Liu Woon Chia then launched the second Practices of Inquiry book entitled ‘Through the lens of the student teachers’. Subsequently, three of our student teachers shared about their learning journeys.

The breakout sessions in the afternoon saw presenters from 30 schools sharing their best practices. Included in the 38 parallel sessions were also five NIE staff and three student teachers from the Teaching Scholars Programme (TSP). Concurrently, the PGDE Primary, Secondary and Junior College students presented on their practicum journeys.

The Forum ended with many praises from the participants and presenters. One of the presenters, Ms Neelakandan Susila gave the following feedback: “On behalf of Tampines Primary, thank you for giving us an opportunity to share our Mentoring Journey in Tampines Primary. We gained a lot from the other presentations and it was indeed a day well spent.”

NIE Singapore created ripples among the international education fraternity with a series of events during the American Education and Research Association (AERA) 2017 conference in San Antonio, Texas. The AERA conference which was held from 27 April to 1 May 2017 is one of the largest conferences on education and education research in the world. 16,000 international educators around the world participate in it yearly to exchange ideas and discuss trends in education and research.

The five-day conference provided NIE with the opportunity to make its augural debut of its suite of journals. The NIE Journals, which included the Asian Pacific Journal of Education and Learning: Research and Practice Pedagogies, were well-received. In addition, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed between NIE Singapore and ICSEI — International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvements, for Singapore to host the ICSEI 2018 conference in January 2018.

For the team of attendees, the highlight of the conference was the cocktail reception that was held for all 150 guests on 28 April 2017 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. The evening kicked off with the book launch of Lee Kuan Yew’s Educational Legacy: The Challenges of Success. The book which commemorates the contributions from Singapore’s founding father to the education system is co-authored by NIE Director Professor Tan Oon Seng, Head and Strategic Planning and Academic Quality Professor Low Ee Ling, and Professor David Hung, Associate Dean (Education Research), Office of Education Research (OER).

Notably, Dr Dennis Kwek, Assistant Dean of Research Communications at OER received the Outstanding Reviewer award during the American Educational Research Association Journal (AERJ) Publications Committee Reception on the 28 April 2017. This accolade was given in recognition of his work in providing high quality and timely reviews to journal submission for the AERJ. Dr Kwek is also an Editorial Board Member of AERJ.

The Dr Ruth Wong Professorship was inaugurated in 2015 in memory of Dr Ruth Wong Hie King, Founding Director of the Institute of Education (National Institute of Education’s (NIE) predecessor). It welcomes renowned scholars to share their knowledge and advance the teacher education experience and expertise within NIE and the Singapore teaching fraternity, as well as increase cooperation and activities for NIE, the teaching fraternity in Singapore and the international education community.

Typical areas of contribution by the Dr Ruth Wong Professorship include: providing advice on curriculum development and teacher education research; conducting lectures/seminars; and/or community engagement activities. Specific activities may include presentation of keynote addresses at conferences organised by NIE, dialogue sessions with NIE student teachers and Ministry of Education (MOE) officials, and visits to schools that are involved in education research.

Professor Clare Kosnik was appointed as the 2nd Dr Ruth Wong Professor in Teacher Education. She is Director of the Dr Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study and Professor in the Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto (OISE/UT). During her visit to NIE as the Dr Ruth Wong Professor, Professor Kosnik shared her expertise through the following activities:

  1. Presentation of a keynote paper entitled Understanding the Complexity of Teaching Practice: Multiple Perspectives and Conflicting Goals at the NIE Learning Forum on 30 May 2017.
  2. Presentation of the Dr Ruth Wong Professorship Lecture entitled: A Teacher Education Program Housed with a Lab School: The Value of a Shared Vision and ‘Space’ at the NIE Redesigning Pedagogy Conference on 31 May 2017.

She met with the Deputy Director General of Education (Professional Development, MOE), staff from the Office of Teacher Education, NIE, as well as selected student teachers from the Teaching Scholars Programme, NIE.

As the first keynote speaker at the NIE Redesigning Pedagogy Conference, Professor Kosnik shared with a captive audience insight drawn from three major research studies: one longitudinal study of 40 teachers conducted over 13 years, one study of 28 literacy or English teacher educators in four countries and one study of graduates from a teacher education program housed within a Laboratory School.

The Dr Ruth Wong Professorship continues to serve as an excellent platform for forging intellectual ties with dedicated scholar-educators so as to carry on her legacy of nurturing the future generations of professional teachers.

Dr Anitha Devi Pillai (English Language and Literature, NIE) and Dr Puva Arumugam (Keypath Education, Australia) have published a book on the second largest Indian community in Singapore. The book entitled ‘From Kerala to Singapore: Voices from the Singapore Malayalee Community’ was launched by Professor Tommy Koh (Ambassador-at-large) at The Arts House on 11 February 2017.

The book documents oral narratives of more than 100 Singapore Malayalees with a focus on their family histories, cultural and literacy practices. It consists of an academic overview of the community’s migration of Malayalees from Kerala to Singapore from 1900 to 2016 and more than 100 personal narratives. The narratives are accompanied by nearly 400 photo portraits and personal family memorabilia as well as detailed family trees.

At the book launch, ProfessorTommy Koh made the following remarks about the significance of the book to Singapore:

“This book is important for Singapore because the story of the Malayalees is part of the larger story of Singapore. The story of Singapore should not just be told by the government. It is everybody’s story. The story of Singapore is a very big story within which we accommodate many other stories. I am very pleased that the Malayalee community has written their story.”

The project was conceptualised in 2002 by Dr Anitha Devi Pillai following her previous research on the language choices and language shift that the Singapore Malayalees faced. She embarked on her ‘dream project’ to document the social and cultural trajectories of the members of the Malayalee community who have settled in Singaporeas soon as she finished her PhD in 2012. In late 2013, the project was awarded partial sponsorship by National Heritage Board which helped to accelerate the progress of the project. The second author, Dr Puva Arumugam, who is based in Australia and specialises in Theatre and Cultural Studies, was invited to write some of the narratives, particularly those relating to arts and culture.

The book has received positive reviews in the media in both Singapore (The Straits Times, Tamil Murasu, Tabla, Vasantham Central and Pravasi Express) and India (Deccan Chronicle, Metro Vaartha, Connected to India and Asianet TV).

The following comments from three reviewers shed more light on the book:

  • “This ‘labour of love’ will stand out as a gem in the literature of diasporic studies. Based on original and assiduous research, and with the inclusion of photographs and documents, many hither to unseen, the book is a treasure trove of information on the Malayalee community in Singapore.” (Ambassador K Kesavapany, Adjunct Professor, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore.)
  • “It is a…skillfully crafted work of ‘sociological imagination’ that beautifully combines experience, observation and reflection which makes it quite a reader-friendly book to all, academic and non-academic readers alike.” (Professor Antony Palackal, Sociologist, Loyola College of Social Sciences, University of Kerala.)
  • “This is a superb collection of stories about migration. Here are tales of partings and loss but embedded in them are stories of new beginnings. Via descriptions of sea voyages, letters home to anxious mothers about failed culinary experiments and hints of assimilation such as the growth of Malayalee associations, these are narratives which display the manner in which the human spirit endures and develops and prospers in the face of change.” (Author Jaishree Misra)

The book is available at Kinokuniya and Times Bookstores.

On 28 May 2017, NIE held its second Postgraduate Fair: Learning Differently, Leading Change, at Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre. During the fair, NIE proudly presented its diverse graduate and professional development programmes with the assistance of representatives from the 12 Academic Groups (AGs).

Close to 1,000 visitors visited the booths and actively engaged professors, current students and graduates in lengthy discussions about courses in the various programmes available for both teachers and working professionals. 22 sharing sessions by Office of Graduate Studies and Professional Learning (GPL) personnel and representatives from the 12 AGs were conducted concurrently, with rooms filled to capacity in many of the sessions.

This year’s fair also saw a special speaker — Mr Edmund Chen (a former entertainment artiste), who shared with the audience his lifelong learning journey and experience of transforming from artiste to author-artist. He shared about how he first began drawing as a child, and touched on the development of his entertainment career before talking about the art-related work he has been doing in the recent years. His projects ranged from designing stamps for Singapore, to creating the longest-drawing ever done by an individual, an effort recorded by the Guinness World of Records.

The event was also supported by the following organisations:

  1. ATOS Wellness
  2. Fitbit
  3. Lawry’s The Prime Rib Singapore
  4. OMNI
  5. Texas Instrument Singapore (Pte) Ltd
  6. True Fitness

All in all, it was a good day for both adults and children, who received free photo-bookmarks when their photographs were taken at the photo booth. Special take-home postcards that were designed by Mr Edmund Chen were also available for children to colour.

NIE is proud to be launching the inaugural Visiting Artist Programme in August 2017. The Visiting Artist Programme will be one of NIE’s signature programmes designed to develop the arts, and arts education in Singapore.

The programme was created with the intention to invite professional artists from the visual arts, music and drama, to be part of the NIE community. Every semester, NIE will host a local or international artist that will partner with the institution for four months. During their time here, these industry professionals will teach undergraduate or postgraduate modules related to their areas of expertise, and conduct engaging workshops, masterclasses or projects. These programmes are open to all staff and students from NIE and NTU, as well as in-service teachers. In addition, the undergraduate elective modules taught by the visiting artist are open to all NIE and NTU students.

The Visiting Artist Programme will prove to be an exciting and enriching opportunity for students and staff of NIE and NTU as they will have the invaluable opportunity to interact, learn from and even collaborate with renowned industry experts in new works of art. The programme hopes to nurture new artistic talent and develop the potential of young artist educators, those who love the visual and performing arts, or simply anyone who is interested in these artforms. NIE is proud to jumpstart this programme and hopes that it would be able to celebrate and promote the arts in education, in the local community. More information about the modules and workshops will be provided at a later date.

Do refer to the Visual and Performing Arts Academic Group webpage for further details,

This international forum comprised a series of presentations by arts education researchers, practitioners and organisations from Australia, Canada, Colombia, Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Korea, New Zealand, Singapore and Thailand. Issues surrounding cultural diversity and arts education within formal, informal and/or non-formal educational settings were discussed.

Dialogue sessions were moderated by faculty members of the Visual & Performing Arts Academic Group, National Institute of Education (NIE).

This one-day forum was organised in tandem with the inaugural UNESCO UNITWIN (Arts Education Research for Cultural Diversity and Sustainable Development) network meeting from 27‒28 April 2017. It was supported by National Institute of Education (NIE), UNESCO-NIE Centre for Arts Research in Education (CARE), National Arts Council (NAC) and Singapore International Foundation (SIF).

Details about the programme are available here.

2016 European School Heads Association (ESHA) Conference, Maastricht, Netherlands

Dr Zachary Walker (ECSE) delivered a keynote to over 600 principals and superintendents from over 20 countries at the recent ESHA Conference. Other keynote speakers included global educational authority Michael Fullan and world-renowned artist Daan Roosegaarde.

Dr Walker’s keynote was titled ‘7 Faces and 12 Questions for this Generation’, and focused on seven students, teachers, and school leaders who can inspire schools and communities to reach 21st Century students. In addition, Dr Walker was the featured speaker for the conference strand on 21st Century Pedagogies.

2016 Johannesburg Institute of Advanced Studies (JIAS) ‘Why the Brain Matters’ Colloquium, Johannesburg, South Africa

Dr Zachary Walker (ECSE) represented NTU and NIE at the recent ‘Why the Brain Matters’colloquium at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) in South Africa. The Johannesburg Institute of Advanced Studies (JIAS) is a partnership between NTU and UJ for advanced study of specific issues in society. The title of this year’s colloquium was ‘Why the Brain Matters: The Creative Brain’. Dr Walker learned and shared high-quality research and strategies with 13 scholars from 11 countries. In addition, Dr Walker was selected to serve on the final sharing panel with three artists exploring brain activity during the creative process and how we can design educational systems to foster creativity.

2016 EduTECH Asia Conference

Dr Zachary Walker (ECSE) was a featured speaker at 2016 EduTECH Asia entitled ‘Why Mobile Learning is Essential’. EduTECH Asia is comprised of inspirational keynotes from across the world, pioneering educators who were already changing education in their classrooms, and technology leaders from education and innovative technology companies. Dr Walker provided examples of the work being done at NIE while also providing the rationale behind the necessity of mobile learning in the 21st Century classroom.

Vanessa and Bonita Thompson, founders of Storybook Math — an online resource and video series that seeks to make mathematics less intimidating and engaging for students, hosted a talk with the Office of Teacher Education. The speakers shared how Storybook Math can help to engage students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), and how stories have the ability to enhance learning outcomes dramatically.

The initiative has garnered a number of achievements including a U.S. Congressional Commendation, California State Senate Certificate of Recognition for STEM, and a National Collegiate Entrepreneurship Society Sigma Nu Tau Honorary Entrepreneur Award.

Associate Professor Tay Eng Guan, Head of the Mathematics and Mathematic Education Academic Group, said, “Vanessa impressed me with her humility and willingness to help others by using strategies that enabled her to overcome her own obstacles. Her talk on using stories was personal and she used videos and ideas that were self-generated. Bonita, her mother, explained from a parent’s, as well as a trainer’s, point of view, how differentiated learning using modern information and communications technology (ICT) can help motivate students learn mathematics.”

Vanessa also discussed with Associate Professor Toh Tin Lam about the possibility of future collaboration on his research on the use of comics to teach mathematics. Allyson Coyne (Public Affairs Advisor, U.S. Embassy, Singapore) and Mark Thompson accompanied Vanessa and Bonita on their visit to NIE.

Professor Fernando M Reimers (Ford Foundation Professor of the Practice of International Education, Director of the Global Education Innovation Initiative, and Director of the International Education Policy Masters Program at Harvard University); Wendy Kopp (CEO and Co-founder of Teach For All); A/P Ng Pak Tee (Associate Dean for Leadership Learning); Professor Sergio Cárdenas (Professor in the Department of Public Administration at the Center for Economics Research and Teaching [CIDE], Mexico); Miho Taguma (Senior Policy Analyst in the Early Childhood and Schools Division, OECD); and María Figueroa (Dean of the Education Faculty at the Universidad Externado de Colombia)

NIE was invited by Harvard University to participate in the "Educating Students for a Diverse and Rapidly Changing World Conference" on 8–10 May 2017 at Harvard Graduate School of Education. Associate Professor Ng Pak Tee, a member of NIE’s Global Education Innovation (GEI) Lab and the Associate Dean for NIE’s Leadership Learning, represented NIE at the invite-only conference. The three-day conference brought together about 200 leaders of policy, practice and research from around the world to discuss how best to educate students to develop the competencies needed to thrive in the 21st century. Conference attendees engaged in important discussions about the ways in which they can advance the work of providing quality education to all students in the 21st century, with support from the Global Education Innovation Initiative (GEII)’s research findings that the partners have been conducting for the last two years. GEII partners also convened on 11 May 2017 to immediately discuss the possible implementations and future plans to advance the GEII and Harvard University’s partnership with NIE.

Since 2013, the Physical Education and Sports Science (PESS) Academic Group has organised the Lau Teng Chuan Physical Education and Sport Science Symposium in remembrance of Dr Lau’s contributions to Singapore and NIE.

The symposium was also held with the purpose of showcasing the educational achievements of NTU and NIE students. Dr Lau is well regarded as one of pioneers of Physical Education (PE) in Singapore. He had contributed much to the Physical Education and Sports Science scene in Singapore and a book prize for the MSc (Exercise and Sport Studies) has been named after him.

The 5th Lau Teng Chuan Physical Education and Sport Science Symposium was held in NIE on 7 April 2017. The Guests-of-Honour were Mr and Mrs Lau and Associate Professor Liu Woon Chia, Dean of Teacher Education at NIE. A total of 102 posters were presented at this year’s symposium. Students from NTU Sport Science and Management and NIE BSc presented their Final Year Project and Educational Research respectively. Furthermore, students from Higher Degree, Postgraduate Diploma and Degree programmes shared about their interesting learning journeys at NIE or NTU. The symposium was successful in providing our senior students with a great opportunity to showcase their achievements and learning journeys while providing our junior students with an excellent learning opportunity.

The design and organisation of an educational space can influence how students view and utilise the space. In Singapore however, there has been little discussion about how educational spaces can be designed to enrich students’ learning.

To kick-start discussions on the role of design in education, the Office of Education Research (OER), together with the Building a Reading Culture Project team, held a roundtable on school libraries and design at Commonwealth Secondary School on 28 February 2017.

Themed ‘How Design Can Help Us Rethink Library Spaces’, this roundtable sought to raise awareness about the role that design plays in making school libraries effective and equitable learning spaces. Attendees of this event included teachers, librarians, school leaders as well as officers from the National Library Board.

The event started with the giving of presentations by three speakers, on how the design of the school library influences students’ impression and utilisation of the place.

They were Assistant Professor Loh Chin Ee from NIE’s English Language and Literature Academic Group, Dr Benjamin Cleveland from the University of Melbourne and Assistant Professor Chong Keng Hua from the Singapore University of Technology and Design.

Their presentation titles are as follows:

  • Assistant Professor Loh Chin Ee: Creating Reading and Learning Spaces in Our School Libraries
  • Dr Benjamin Cleveland: The School Library as Behaviour Setting — Exploring the Physical and Social Components Behind ‘Effective Learning Environments’
  • Assistant Professor Chong Keng Hua: Creative Ageing Cities

Following the three presentations, speakers and attendees participated in break-out sessions, where they discussed the role of the school library today and shared their views on what would attract students to the school library (e.g. availability of learning resources, spaces for quiet study or collaboration). Speakers and attendees also exchanged ideas on how the school library can help to promote a reading culture amongst students.

The roundtable concluded with an overarching discussion on improvements that can be made to the design of school libraries to accommodate the diverse needs and interests of students and enrich their learning.

This roundtable was based on OER project 05/16 LCE ‘Building a Reading Culture: a Nation-wide Study of Reading and School Libraries in Singapore Secondary Schools’, of which Assistant Professor Loh Chin Ee is the Principal Investigator.

The Office of Education Research (OER) held a science research sharing seminar on 21 March 2017, in collaboration with the Academy of Singapore Teachers (AST).

Themed ‘Science Education in Singapore: Where to Next?’, this seminar sought to generate conversations on the state of science education in Singapore and how pedagogical practices can be transformed to improve students’ reasoning and inquiry skills in the Sciences.

The seminar attracted a good turnout ofapproximately 200 participants comprising teachers, subject heads and MOE policymakers.

Researchers from OER’s Centre for Research in Pedagogy and Practice (CRPP), Learning Sciences Lab (LSL) and NIE’s Natural Sciences and Science Education Academic Group (NSSE AG) delivered presentations on the role of science education, the challenges facing the future of science education, and pedagogies that can enrich students’ learning of the Sciences.

The speakers and their presentation titles are as follows:

  • Dr Dennis Kwek (Assistant Dean, Research Communications and Research Scientist, CRPP, OER) — CORE Research Programme: Baseline Investigation of Science Pedagogy
  • Dr Teo Tang Wee (Assistant Professor, NSSE AG) — Normal Academic Students’ Science Inference Skills
  • Dr Subramaniam Ramanathan (Associate Professor, NSSE AG) — Students’ Understanding and Views in the Sciences
  • Dr Seah Lay Hoon (Research Scientist, LSL, OER) — Science Reading: The “Elephant” in our Science Classrooms?
  • Dr Jennifer Yeo (Assistant Professor, NSSE AG) — Representations in Science Learning
  • Mr Timothy Tan (Lecturer, NSSE AG) — Approaching STEM Integration
  • Dr Michael Tan (Research Scientist, LSL, OER) — Science Education, Innovation and Makerspaces
  • Dr Lee Yew Jin (Associate Professor, NSSE AG) — Knowledge Work

The seminar concluded with a panel discussion moderated by Professor Andrew Brown, a visiting professor at OER, where he spoke about Singapore’s accomplishments in science education and exchanged views with speakers on pedagogies that can increase students’ motivation in science learning.

The Office of Education Research (OER) welcomed Professor Alan H. Schoenfeld, the Elizabeth and Edward Conner Professor of Education and Affiliated Professor of Mathematics at the University of California at Berkeley from 13 to 17 February 2017. The visit by the established Professor offered the opportunity for an engaging and intellectual discourse with OER’s management, researchers, as well as the Ministry of Education (MOE).

Professor Schoenfeld presented his ‘Teaching for Robust Understanding (TRU)’ framework to the audience in comprehensive detail. TRU envisions characterising powerful learning environments in crisp and actionable ways. Using the five dimensions of Powerful Classrooms, Professor Schoenfeld shared how the quality of a learning environment depends on the extent to which it provides opportunities for students along the five dimensions of:

  1. content available for learning;
  2. student sense-making (cognitive demand);
  3. meaningful and equitable access to concepts and practices for all students;
  4. agency, ownership and identity; and
  5. responsiveness of the environment to student thinking (formative assessment).

Several projects from Edulab, Math and the Learning Sciences were presented to the Professor, which were followed by enriching discussions. He also met with researchers from the Mathematics and Mathematics Education (MME) Academic Group to share his views on the TRU Framework and its application to the programmatic research on enacted school mathematics curriculum.

He was pleased to learn that colleagues from MME had adopted his TRU framework to analyse part of the data being collected by the programmatic research project ‘A study of the enacted school mathematics curriculum’. MME colleagues will continue to dialogue with Professor Schoenfeld about TRU and how the pedagogy of competent secondary school mathematics teachers match up to the five dimensions.

Besides sharing his rich and extensive experience with MOE and NIE researchers, Professor Schoenfeld actively interested and engaged the audience with information, interaction and humour. He also contributed valuable insights and international perspectives and ideas on OER’s 4th tranche meta-synthesis work.

Professor Schoenfeld concluded his visit on a note of commendation that “Singapore has the potential to be the place to emulate for the next decade, with its existing systemic coherence, strong teaching force and research and development capacity”.

On 15 March 2017, the Asian Languages and Cultures Academic Group invited Professor Chew Cheng Hai, Adjunct Professor of NUS and Honorary Professor of Hong Kong Education University, to give a talk on the Standardisation of the Chinese Language. The session was attended by about 80 NIE academics and students, as well as officers from MOE.

Associate Professor Hadijah Rahmat, Covering Head of Asian Languages and Cultures (ALC), opened the session with a warm welcome speech. The welcome speech included anecdotes highlighting the great attributes of modesty and humanity she saw in Professor Chew, since she worked alongside him in 1987. Given his retirement from NIE six years ago, Professor Chew felt delighted on his “homecoming” and the warmth gesture given to him.

Professor Chew shared with the audience his perspective of the ‘Big Mandarin’ concept, which is an important element when promoting the standardisation of the speaking and learning of the Chinese language. He stressed that we must be mindful that the influence of ‘Putonghua’ is developed naturally, and that we must be flexible in using ‘Putonghua’ during the course of international exchange, but not exert it forcibly. Especially in this age of globalisation, teachers and language policy makers should consider both the need for the international exchange as well as the regional varieties of the language. The audience participated actively during the post-presentation discussion chaired by Associate Professor Tan Chee Lay, Acting Deputy Head of ALC.

The ALC Lunchtime Seminar Series aims to offer a platform for staff to share their research output, exchange new ideas and showcase research findings of invited speakers. ALC emphasises on boosting research interests and fostering a strong research culture.

By A/P Aw Guat Poh, Dr Zhang Aidong, Dr Tan Kar Chun

On 11 May 2017, GovTech and MOE visited NIE’s new learning space — Net Gen Learners’ Terrace (NGLT). During the visit, NIE and Cisco presented the new technologies and capabilities of NGLT.

The NGLT is designed to embody new learning modes, the innovative use of spaces and proven technologies. It addition, it supports NIE’s teaching and learning framework. Adopting innovative ways of synchronising video capturing and conference, such as the use of multiple presenters and life-sized co-teaching, the NGLT encourages the use of blended learning, flipped classrooms, virtual consultations and other pedagogy initiatives.

Commencing the visit with the opening address, participants were welcomed and an overview of the visit was presented. The attendees were then introduced to the digital capabilities of NGLT. Subsequently, these features were showcased during demonstrations that used cases with Learning Sciences and Technologies Academic Group and Cisco staff from around the region.

Notable attendees at the event include:

Ms Jacqueline Poh
Chief Executive, GovTech

Mr Tan Bee Teck
Chief Information Officer
Director, Information Technology Branch/MOE

Mr Teh Sim Seng
Chief Information Officer
Director, Operations & Support/Security & Infrastructure Division/SSG

Mr Kelvin Tan
Chief Information Officer
InfoComm Technology/Civil Service College

Visit by delegation from the Moscow City Department of Education and the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation

Mr Sergei Kravtsov, Head of Federal Service for Supervision in Education and Science, led a delegation from the Moscow City Department of Education and the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation to NIE on 28 February 2017. The delegation was in Singapore to learn more about the Singapore education system, how Singapore schools function, and how its teachers are trained. Professor Paul Teng, Principal Officer, and Associate Professor Ivy Tan, Associate Dean (Practicum & Partnerships), Office of Teacher Education, welcomed the delegation and shared with them NIE’s Initial Teacher Preparation programmes and how teacher education is structured in Singapore.

Visit by Mr Stefan Jakobsson, Swedish Member of Parliament

Mr Stefan Jakobsson, a Member of Parliament from Sweden, met with Associate Professor Ivy Tan, Associate Dean (Practicum & Partnerships), Office of Teacher Education, during his visit to NIE on 28 February. They discussed the teacher education structure in Singapore and various programmes available for teachers to develop their competencies.

10 April

Visit by the Right Honourable Nick Gibb, Minister of State for School Standards, and delegation from the Department of Education, United Kingdom

The Right Honourable (Rt Hon) Nick Gibb, Minister of State for School and his team from the Department of Education, United Kingdom visited NIE on 10 April. Hosted by Professor Christine Goh, Dean, Graduate Studies and Professional Learning (GPL), together with Associate Professor Tan Aik Ling, Assistant Dean (Professional Development), GPL and Dr Tan Liang See, Assistant Dean (School Partnerships), Office of Education Research, the meeting discussed how NIE’s work supports the professional development of teachers and the use of research and evidence in Singapore to inform teaching.

Visit by His Excellency Alebel Dessie Moges, State Minister and delegation from the Policy Study and Research Center, Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

Mr Chan Tee Miang, Divisional Director, Corporate Planning and Development Division, and Associate Professor Jude Chua, Head, Policy and Leadership Studies Academic Group, hosted a visit on 10 April by His Excellency Alebel Dessie Moges, State Minister, and his delegation from the Policy Study and Research Center, Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. The delegation was interested in hearing how teachers are being prepared to teach Character and Citizenship Education in schools.

25 April

Visit by Her Excellency Jameela Al Muhairi, Minister of State for Public Education, and delegation from the Ministry of Education, United Arab Emirates (UAE)

Her Excellency Jameela Al Muhairi, Minister of State for Public Education, led a delegation from the Ministry of Education, United Arab Emirates (UAE) on a study visit to Singapore to take a closer look at the Singapore education system, such as teacher training tools and strategies. Hosted by Professor Christine Goh, Dean, Graduate Studies and Professional Learning (GPL), together with colleagues from GPL, Office of Teacher Education (OTE), and NIE International (NIEI), the delegation learnt about NIE’s pre-service teacher preparation programmes, in-service teacher professional development and leadership programmes, and enjoyed engaging discussions with NIE colleagues.

12 May

Visit by Mr Yona Yahav, Mayor, City of Haifa, Israel, and delegation from the Mayor’s Office in Israel

Mr Yona Yahav, Mayor, City of Haifa, Israel, led a delegation to NTU on 12 May to visit various research centres. As part of their NTU visit programme, the delegation visited NIE and met with Associate Professor Ivy Tan, Associate Dean (Practicum & Partnerships), Office of Teacher Education, to learn about NIE’s Initial Teacher Preparation programmes.

16 May

Visit by Ms Yvette Berry, Deputy Chief Minister and Minister for Education and Early Childhood Development, and delegation from the Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

Ms Yvette Berry, Deputy Chief Minister and Minister for Education and Early Childhood Development, Australian Capital Territory (ACT), Ms Deb Efthymiades, Deputy Director-General of Education, and delegation from ACT, visited Singapore in May to learn how Singapore delivers a high quality education system.

NIE Director, Professor Tan Oon Seng hosted the delegation’s visit on 16 May, together with Associate Professor Liu Woon Chia, Dean, Teacher Education, Professor Christine Goh, Dean, Graduate Studies and Professional Learning, and Dr Nirmala Karuppiah, Senior Lecturer, Early Childhood and Special Education Academic Group. The delegation was briefed on how NIE supports the education system through its Initial Teacher Preparation and leadership development programmes.

Nothing prepared the three-member team from NIE’s Physical Education and Sports Science (PESS) Academic Group for the world’s highest peak.

Close to Mount Everest’s apex, Dr Arjunan Saravana Pillai was suffering from frostbite while Mr Jeremy Tong was struck with hypothermia. Ms Nur Yusrina Ya’akob was the only remaining member able to successfully summit Mount Everest on the morning of 22 May 2017, carrying the hopes and dreams of her team and many back home.

“The success of my climb is the team’s success, and I am definitely happy to put NTU, NIE, PESS and our sponsors on top of the world,” Ms Yusrina said of her summiting Mount Everest. This is what the second-year Postgraduate Diploma in Physical Education student teacher had to say about her perilous journey: “The challenges I faced were real and tough; some were even life-threatening, but I learnt about the true strength of my willpower and the potency of my focus. I did not know that I could do it until I did. That says a lot about the willpower of humans.” 

At some 8,848 metres above sea level, Ms Yusrina had also found closure for her first unsuccessful attempt in 2015 when a major earthquake thwarted her plans for success. She is Singapore’s first Malay female climber, and the first NTU and NIE representative to successfully scale Mount Everest. This is an achievement celebrated by NIE as its community had supported the team financially.

Associate Professor Chang Chew Hung, currently the Associate Dean for Professional Development, at the Office of Graduate Studies and Professional Learning, has been an exemplary instructor, and has written books and articles on geography and geography education.

In this first fully online in-service course at NIE, the teacher participants were provided opportunities to learn about the ways to teach the topic of climate change in schools, through various modes of learning. Apart from utilising keystone features of learning management systems, such as discussion forums and online quizzes, teachers were able to engage with interactive videos and live video chats.

The in-service teachers were also given the opportunity to learn at their own pace or follow a suggested timeline to complete the course.

One of the unique features of this course is that it is built on an actual lesson study that the NIE faculty was involved in. As part of a research project, the NIE faculty collaborated with school teachers to develop a pedagogical approach of refutation texts to teach the topic of climate change better.

The NIE faculty not only work closely with the teachers in developing the lesson plans, but also taught the class. A video case of the lesson is used within this online course to highlight the theory-practice link.

Assistant Professor Diganta Das, a human geographer at Humanities and Social Studies Education Academic Group, is currently working on two projects.

The first project, ‘Geographies of High-Tech Development: Exploring Urban Policy Mobilities and Grounded Realities’, has its objective set on exploring the policy trajectories of high-tech urban development in Hyderabad and documenting the human geographies of resistance, resilience and reworking by the locals.

Drawing from the theoretical lens of splintering urbanism, this project attempts to understand how neoliberalising initiatives have impacted Hyderabad’s contemporary urban development through emulating urban policies from Singapore and Malaysia, by installing modern premium infrastructures and software enclaves.

The project further aims to document the human geographies of high-tech development in Hyderabad by providing insights into the everyday practices of locals and analysing the ways in which the high-tech Hyderabad have been accepted, resisted and negotiated through their everyday practices.

Based on qualitative methods such as in-depth interviews, focus group discussions, observations and secondary data sources, this project not only examines urban policy movement between Singapore or Malaysia and India, but also attempts to analyse the nuances of society’s everyday practices in the high-tech space.

A journal article based on this research was recently published in ‘British Journal for the History of the Science, BJHS Themes’. Moreover, a book chapter has also been published based on the research carried out through the project.

The second project, ‘Asian Cities: Liveability, Sustainability, Diversity and Spaces of Encounter’, aims to contribute to urban theory and urban studies through the provision of effective and accurate understandings of what is taking place, as well as what may occur in the future.

Through an interdisciplinary approach, the project provides holistic understandings of the key workings of urban social, cultural, environmental and technological interrelationships, processes and transformations.

Deploying primarily qualitative methods such as questionnaire surveys, in-depth interviews and secondary data sources, the research will have important policy implications and contribute significantly to fresh intellectual analysis of urban processes. In particular, the research will challenge, interrogate and critique, rather than adopt and mimic, ‘Western-centric’ theorisation and conceptualisation of ‘the urban’.

The project has already published four City and Neighbourhood reports of Singapore, Hyderabad, Busan and Kunming, based on this research, and two journal articles.

In addition to the aforementioned projects, Assistant Professor Das has begun working on a new project titled, ‘Smart Cities: Provincialising the Global Urban Age in India and South Africa’. This project is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation.

The research Teddy Sim Yong Huei does focuses on South and Southeast Asia. Some of his ideas have been consulted and others have been featured in journals, a Goan tabloid, a French magazine, and even in a TV programme broadcasted by Mediacorp.

Many of Teddy’s NIE courses feature a fieldtrip component, be it in Singapore, or overseas to parts of India and Southeast Asia. These overseas trip shave been popularly dubbed ‘Sim’s 3 Days, 2 Nights’ trips. The specially tailored trips are short, affordable, and engage the course readings intensively. In addition, they involve collection of data from the ground.

Teddy’s 2016 trip took the adventure to the capital of an important region in the Dutch East Indies in Makassar. This trip sought to incorporate multidisciplinary approaches and the use of the NIE mGeo template in collecting data.

Student(s) going on the trip were able to collect detailed data. The data, in combination with textual sources, were presented in the form of well analysed essays, on the topic of the extent and ways in which the people of Makassar were able to adapt and resist to the coming of the Dutch.

A teacher trainee found that “the overseas trip was not only an eye-opener but helped her to relate what she was learning more critically and in an engaging manner”. The students also shared their experience on Blackboard Forum. The process and methodology of the trip is being written in an academic paper.

July - September 2017    |    Issue 100 VIEW OLDER ISSUES


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