Director, Sep 2012 – Dec 2014
As a chemical engineering sophomore in 1985, Lakshminarayanan SAMAVEDHAM's conceptions of teaching and learning were heavily influenced by the ideas of Professor Richard Felder (whom he finally met in 2007) after reading his “Random Thoughts” column in the journal Chemical Engineering Education. He has since adapted and implemented various ideas and teaching approaches proposed by Felder (NCSU), Phil Wankat (Purdue), and Donald R. Woods (McMaster).
Laksh is the winner of many teaching awards (including the NUS Outstanding Educator Award in 2006) and research awards (Pan-Canadian Petroleum Award, DuPont/PapriCan Research Excellence Award). He has authored more than 90 articles in peer-reviewed top quality international journals and presented over 125 conference papers, including 10 keynote talks at international conferences. At NUS, Laksh has served in various administrative appointments, including Acting-Chair of its Teaching Academy and Director of Centre for Development of Teaching and Learning (CDTL). In 2015, he assumed his current position as the Master of Residential College 4, where he oversees all matters relating to the curriculum, and the college.
During his tenure as Deputy Director (2010-2012) and later as Director of CDTL (2012-2014), his thrusts were to:
- advance good teaching and learning practices at NUS by sharpening professional development programmes for faculty members, teaching assistants and graduate students.
- create personalized mentorship programmes for faculty members who would benefit the most from making adjustments to their teaching practices.
- support the endeavour of public universities in the Philippines to transform their pedagogical practices for the new century. This multi-year, capacity building project was supported by NUS, Temasek Foundation (funding organization) and the University of Philippines.
- steer the NUS teaching community towards education research and the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL).
- implement NUS’s reforms in student feedback of teaching and faculty peer review of teaching.
Besides basing his classroom practices on theories grounded in the learning sciences, Laksh has engaged in SoTL at local, regional and international levels. He talks to various audiences hoping for positive change in how teaching and learning (in STEM fields) happens at Universities. As mentioned above, Laksh designed and coordinated a project funded by the Temasek Foundation (and supported by NUS) to support the University of Philippines in their most recent “change” process. As an alumnus, he played a key role in establishing a Teaching and Learning Centre at one of India’s greatest private universities - BITS Pilani – with a view to get their faculty engage in scholarly teaching practices and SoTL. He has tried to plant the culture of scholarly teaching practice, blended learning, and best assessment practices in many other higher education institutions in India, and hopes to continue doing so for the near future. His other passion involves working with school children from around the world to help them utilize systems thinking and modeling as a way of understanding and solving complex problems.