Over the next five years (FY2018-2022), the Education Research Funding Programme (ERFP) will continue to build on the work that has been undertaken in the previous three cycles of education funding by strengthening the foundation (in terms of knowledge, capability and structure) for education research, developing innovations in existing and emerging niche research areas, and growing hubs of research excellence.
NIE's ERFP for 2018-2022 is developed in line with recommendations made by the Committee of the Future Economy and builds on the Thinking Schools, Learning Nation and Teach Less, Learn More policy initiatives. Over the past year, besides horizon scanning, consolidation of research project findings, and strategic planning to meet future needs, OER had also met and consulted key education stakeholders in MOE, schools, and both international and local experts. The result is a proposed ERFP that will both strengthen NIE's international standing as an education research institute of distinction and support Singapore's education system in providing "Research-informed Education for Future-ready Learners."
The "future-ready learners' agenda" therefore encompasses the Four-Life Learning aspects that will prepare learners to cope in a world associated with "Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity." These are a) Life-long learning; b) Life-deep learning; c) Life-wide learning; and d) Life-wise learning. At the centre of these Four-Life Learning aspects is the learner's social emotional regulation and well-being. By emphasizing these four learning aspects, the "future-ready learner's agenda" shifts the pedagogical emphasis from preparing for performance (in high-stakes assessments) to preparing for life through purposeful learning.
The Four-Life Learning aspects align closely and systematically with three key policy imperatives:
- The Joy of Learning can be seen to be about developing life-long learning dispositions, life-deep learning expertise, and life-wide interests;
- Entrepreneurial Dare can be seen to be about life-deep expertise and mastery, life-wide boundary crossing;
- Social cohesion can be seen to be about life-wise virtues, life-long character dispositions, and life-wide cultural appreciation
Joy of Learning: Life-long learning dispositions, Life-deep learning expertise, Life-wide interests
Entrepreneurial Dare: Life-deep expertise and mastery, Life-wide boundary crossing
Social Cohesion: Life-wise virtues, Life-long character dispositions, Life-wide cultural appreciation
To meet our aspiration to provide the basis for "research-informed education", NIE's "future-ready" research agenda focuses on supporting the Singapore education system to develop future-ready learners and teachers, and aims to inform policy formulation and build on the best of contemporary educational practice with the challenges of the future in view.
From the teacher's perspective, the research needs to enhance and inform teacher education, effective teaching and learning, new pedagogies, educational change, and teacher professionalism/values. The Singapore Teaching Practice (STP) will be a key feature on the research agenda.
From the students' perspective, the research needs to examine student learning across the four learning aspects of life-long, life-deep, life-wide, and life-wise for purposeful learning.
From the policy makers' perspective, the research needs to inform decisions relating to the instructional core situated in the broader learning contexts.
The future-ready learners' agenda is operationalized into five (5) priority areas of research (PARs) for the 4th ERFP, which are aligned with the long-term strategic research themes identified by MOE. These are:
a. Schools, Leadership and System Studies
b. Teacher Professionalism and Learning
c. Learning Sciences and Innovation
d. 21st CC and Motivation (with focus on resilience, values, character development
e. Cognitive, Emotional and Social Development
These 5 PARS include research that can also be conducted in domain-specific areas like literacy, mathematics, science, humanities as well as areas such as STP, early childhood, bilingualism and low progress learners.