TAN Oon Seng


Centre Director, Centre for Research in Child Development

Office of Education Research (OER), Psychology and Child & Human Development (PCHD)

Office Location

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


Office Telephone Number

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

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

    Professor Tan Oon Seng is Centre Director, Centre for Research in Child Development (CRCD) at the National Institute of Education, Singapore.

    Professor Tan was previously Director of the National Institute of Education (NIE), Singapore where he played a significant role in enhancing teacher education and revitalising NIE’s training programmes to raise the image and professionalism of teachers. His many contributions included helping to initiate the Teaching Scholars Programme and refining the Post-Graduate Diploma in Education programme for aspiring teachers; enhancing teaching practices and international practicum opportunities for NIE student-teachers; and spearheading technology-enhanced learning and design-thinking infrastructural improvements. As Director of NIE he also brought about leadership development and renewal across both academia and administration at NIE. Prof Tan founded the NIE Visitor Centre that was launched by the then Minister of Education Ng Chee Meng and unveiled by President Subra Suresh. Prof Tan advocated the idea of highly research-literate teachers in Singapore empowered and confident to improve pedagogical practices through evidenced-based research. His leadership in NIE’s education research proposal helped secure a 25% increase in funding for educational research for the next five years (totalling S$127 million for  FY2018-2022).

    Professor Tan was also 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 heads the Singapore team for the Global Education Innovation Initiative (GEII) helmed by the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He is convener of the World Educational Research Association (WERA) International Research Network on Teacher Education. Professor Tan is an Expert Panel Member of the Social Science and Humanities Research for Singapore. He is also an Expert Panel Member of the Tertiary Education Research Funding. 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. Professor Tan was previously board director of several key education agencies including the Singapore Exams and Assessment Board (SEAB), Singapore Centre for Chinese Language (SCCL) and NIE International (NIEI). Prof Tan Oon Seng together with the Permanent Secretary Ms Chan Lai Fung and Deputy Secretary of Education Ms Lai Wei Lin were the first board directors of the National Institute of Early Childhood Development (NIEC). NIEC and CRCD are milestone developments in Singapore’s early childhood sector.

    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; and Problem-based Learning and Creativity. His other popular publications include Enhancing Cognitive Functions: Applications Across Contexts (with Seng); Cognitive Modifiability in Learning and Assessment: International perspectives (with Seng); Educational Psychology: An Asia Edition (with Chye, Lim, Chua, Tuckman and Monetti); Teacher Education Frontiers: International Perspectives on Policy and Practice; and Teacher Effectiveness: Capacity Building in a Complex Era (with Liu). Prof Tan’s recent publications include Lee Kuan Yew's Educational Legacy: The Challenges of Success (with Low and Hung); Teacher Education in the 21st century: Singapore’s Evolution and Innovation (with Liu and Low); and Global Voices in Education: Ruth Wong Memorial Lectures, Volumes I & II (with Wong and Seng).

    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, Prof Tan was conferred the Public Administration Medal (Silver) by the President of the Republic of Singapore for his dedication and achievement in the field of education. Prof Tan has been a keynote speaker in major international conferences in the United States, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, China, 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 global companies including Philips, Swiss Microelectronics, Raffles Hotel and Singapore Airlines as well as government bodies and international organisations including JICA, ADB, World Bank, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).