Core 3 Research Programme: A Quantitative Study of Learning and Teaching in Singapore Classrooms

Project Number
OER 29/15 CCY

Project Duration
February 2016 - January 2019


Research in effective teaching and learning practices and their impact on student educational outcomes remains at the core of education research, policy and practice. In order to respond adequately to the diverse interests and capacities of students in 21st century learning environments, regular evaluations of existing pedagogical systems, processes and outcomes around learning play an important role. Importantly, developing research-informed strategies for school and educational improvement often involve cumulative processes that build on existing and incremental knowledge of associated causes and effects. In the absence of genuine panel data where the same individuals are followed over time, the availability of pooled cross-sectional data comprising independent samples of the population at periodic intervals is a good substitute for true panel data which can, over the longer term, provide a useful body of empirical data for assessing the relative effectiveness of reform initiatives, guiding school improvement efforts and advancing key inputs and processes that contribute most towards positive educational outcomes for students and schools. The NIE (National Institute of Education) Core research programme—Core 1 (2004), and Core 2 (2010)—was designed to provide specific empirical answers to persistent questions about the instructional logic and intellectual quality of teaching, learning and achievement across Singapore English and mathematics classrooms. More recently, in preparation for phase 3 of the programme, a smaller scale pre-Core 3 study (2014) was commissioned with a reduced sample of schools and on one curriculum subject (mathematics). At a policy level, the Core research programme fits into a strategically directed and pedagogically motivated effort aimed at generating primary research findings about the local curriculum and pedagogical practices, and to provide robust evidence about effectiveness at the systems level to inform education practice and policy in Singapore. This proposed study (wave one of a three wave Core 3 research programme) continues to contribute substantively to this well-designed research investment by expanding into key content areas, a new cohort (secondary one) and a new academic subject (Science, with the possibility of social studies in later phases). Building on the integrated multilevel and multi-domain analytical framework of the research programme, we aim to 1) provide timely and systemic evaluations of the structure and inner logic classroom pedagogical practices (using single cross-sections), and 2) identify trends and variations in the structure, quality and coherence of pedagogical practices and student outcomes across successive cohorts (using repeated cross-sections).

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