TAN Oon Seng


Director, NIE

Director's Office (DIR)

Office Location

BSc (National University of Singapore), DipEd (National University of Singapore), MEd (National University of Singapore), PhD (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)


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Research Interests
Teacher Education, Cognitive Functions, Problem-based Learning, Psychology of Emotions and Creativity

  • Current Appointments
    • Director, National Institute of Education, Singapore 
    • Professor, Psychological Studies
    • Editor-in-Chief, Educational Research for Policy and Practice (ERPP)
    • Lead Editor, Asia Pacific Journal of Education
    Previous Appointments
    • Dean, Teacher Education
    • Head, Psychological Studies
    • Associate Professor, Psychological Studies

    Prof Tan received his BSc and MEd from the National University of Singapore (NUS) and his PhD from Nanyang Technological University. He attended the Stanford-NUS Management Development Program in 1998 and the Harvard Management Development Program in 2004.

    Prof Tan's areas of research include teacher education, cognitive psychology and problem-based learning (PBL) for which he is known internationally. He is the main co-author of Educational Psychology: A Researcher-Practitioner Approach (Asian Edition), a worldwide university textbook and reference published by Thomson Learning which has been translated into Chinese 教育心理学:实践者-研究者之路(亚洲版) by the Shanghai People's Publishing House (上海人民出版社). He is the author of Problem-based Learning Innovation: Using Problems to Power Learning in the 21st Century. He is also editor of the international collections entitled Enhancing Thinking through Problem-based Learning, Problem-based Learning in E-learning Breakthroughs, Problem-based Learning and Creativity. His other popular publications include Enhancing Cognitive Functions: Applications Across Context (with Seng), Cognitive Modifiability in Learning and Assessment: International perspectives (with Seng) and What West Can Learn from East: Asian Perspective on Psychology & Motivation (with McInerney, Liem & Tan). Prof Tan’s recent books include Teacher Education Frontiers: International Perspectives on Policy and Practice for Building New Teacher Competencies and Teacher Effectiveness: Capacity Building in a Complex Era (with Liu).

    Professor Tan was previously Dean of Teacher Education at NIE where he spearheaded the Teacher Education for the 21st Century (TE21) initiative as a major milestone innovation for teacher education both nationally and internationally. He also heads the Singapore team for the Global Education Innovation Initiative (GEII) helmed by the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He is also convener of the World Educational Research Association (WERA) International Research Network on Teacher Education. Professor Tan was President of the Educational Research Association of Singapore (ERAS, 2005-2008) and President of the Asia-Pacific Educational Research Association (APERA, 2008-2010). He was also the Vice-President (Asia and Pacific Rim) of the International Association for Cognitive Education and Psychology (IACEP, 2008-2011). He is Editor-in-Chief of the Educational Research for Policy & Practice (ERPP) journal published by Springer. He is also the Lead Editor of the Asia Pacific Journal of Education (APJE) published by Routledge. Concurrently, he is on the board of directors for NIE International (NIEI) and also for the Singapore Centre for Chinese Language (SCCL).

    Prof Tan was a winner of The Enterprise Challenge (TEC) Innovator Award from the Prime Minister’s Office of Singapore for co-pioneering a project on Innovation for the Knowledge-based Economy. In 2014 National Day, he was conferred the Public Administration Medal (Silver) by the President of the Republic of Singapore. He has been a keynote speaker in major international conferences in the United States, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, China, Hong Kong, the Arab states and Southeast Asia. His keynotes include the National Science Foundation (NSF) Education & Human Resource (EHR) Distinguished Lecture in Washington, D.C., American Educational Research Association Annual Meetings presidential sessions, the Royal Swedish Academy of Science international symposium, and international education summits. He has also been a consultant to many government bodies, international organisations and global companies.