Annual Teaching Excellence Awards (ATEA) Ceremony & Outstanding Educator Awards (OEA) Public Lectures

Outstanding Educator Awards (OEA) Public Lectures


Harnessing Technology in Medical Education: The Way Forward

Assoc Prof Alfred Kow
Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine

The 4th Industrial Revolution is well underway and digital transformation is inevitable in all fields, including education. While many institutions started the digital transformation in medical education at various speed, the COVID pandemic has forced educational institutions to evolve rapidly to meet the challenges in maintaining quality education and to explore innovative methods to move forward.
Advanced technologies have now been widely used in the fields of education and training. Increasingly demonstrated in the literatures, education institutions have started to invest resources to grow unique training models using augmented reality, virtual reality and mixed reality as well as artificial intelligence and machine learning, to tap on the expanded dimensions of what these tools can offer to enhance learning and outcomes. This represents a revolutionary change in the way how conventional medical training is carried out, requiring an open mind, a willingness to take risks, and transformational leadership in the institution.

In this lecture, I will share our experience in digitally transforming medical education using technology to enhance the experience and to meet the future needs of our learners. They constitute crucial steps in ensuring uniformity in learning and allowing students to build a strong foundation in the new post-pandemic era.
View 2021 Public Lecture       View ATEA and ADEA 2021 winners       View e-Book


Authentic Teaching - The Occam’s Razor for Effective Learning

HO Han Kiat
Faculty of Science

We are living in a time where technological and pedagogical enhancements continue to transform the way we do education. In the midst of this constant flux and re-adaptation, I seek to return to basics and identify age-old principles for learning that remain steadfast and important. From which, authentic teaching emerges as an anchoring value and a pedagogical compass to guide and test every innovation in education. As authenticity is about engaging students in real-world learning, it presents itself as a common denominator relevant to most teaching and learning context. Its consideration transcends the classroom, the content, the assessment and most of all, the teacher. Using a few examples, I will attempt to illustrate my own exposition of authentic teaching and the potential benefits it can bring.

We Have a Vision for Tomorrow

Stephen LIM
Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences

As educators and leaders, how might we insure our students truly learn? Cognitive and educational psychologists have discovered effective solutions for teaching and learning that are relatively inexpensive and applicable across many educational settings. In the ideal world, we would have created a translational educational science to be systematically adopted by universities, thereby reforming policy and practice. In this Lecture, we will envision such a future for higher education and how we can achieve it together.
View 2020 Public Lecture       View ATEA AY2018/2019 recipients


Deform to Create

Hans TAN
School of Design & Environment

In this talk, the speaker will elaborate on a peculiar approach to designing pedagogy based on the concept of “Deformative Inquiry”, which he developed from his personal practice as an award-winning designer. Contrary to the popular belief that creativity forms new ideas, it emphasises the importance of deforming as a starting point for imaginative thinking, exercised at the intersection of thought exploration and hands-on experimentation. This approach reflects Gaston Bachelard’s interpretation of one’s imagination: “We always think of the imagination as the faculty that forms images. On the contrary, it deforms what we perceive.” 

Me? Teach? The Evolution of an Incidental Teacher

NGA Min En
Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine

In the journey of any academic, periods of self-doubt and uncertainty are inevitable.  However, these moments of reflection and even angst can be drivers for self-improvement, and each challenge is an opportunity for creativity, courage and action.  As a doctor who became an ‘incidental teacher’, I have been fortunate enough to have distilled some personal insights from what can sometimes be the tumultuous journey of an educator.  I share these in the hope that others may be similarly encouraged, as we strive toward a purpose that is greater than ourselves.

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Collaboration: A Dialogue on the Product and Process of Education

Adrian LEE, Faculty of Science and Chris MCMORRAN, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences

What should a university education elicit in students? A common attribute preferred in graduates is that of being a lifelong learner, especially in today's fast-changing jobs landscape. This is the product; education is the process. The product is ambitious in that it is about not only empowering students, but arguably should in the long run make us as teachers redundant. The process is necessarily collaborative, from curriculum design to coordination within and across years, to the need for active, student-centred learning. In this talk, we shall forego the usual format, pool our time, and jointly interrogate the nature of collaboration in university education. View Slides


Collaboration: A Dialogue on the Product and Process of Education
Using Research to Show that Service is Educational and Using Teaching of Research to Improve Service: Merging the Three Missions of Academia

Gerald Koh
Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health

The three main missions of the university and academic staff are teaching, research, and service. Often, these three domains stretch the academic in different directions, resulting in compartmentalization and stress. However, if strategically and purposefully planned, these missions may coalesce and produce synergies that are greater than the sum of its parts. In this lecture, the presenter will share how research was used to demonstrate that service was educational, and how teaching of research led to service improvements in society.

Deconstructing “Love”: an “Über-cool” Way to Unlock Potential in Novice Scholars

Paulin Tay Straughan
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Teaching at tertiary level should move beyond content dissemination so as to nurture human capital. Educators thus experiment with various pedagogies in the belief that different models to invoke the love of learning will work in varied environments and circumstances. Freshman Seminars, piloted in FASS in 2010, constitute one such experiment; over the last years their effectiveness in inducting students into the wonderful journey of life-long learning has become apparent. In a module that has been named the top “Über-cool” course by Vulcan Post, an online publication that focuses on technology, students are empowered to drive their learning trajectory through collective wisdom. We will discuss the approach invoked in the conduct of this Freshman Seminar and highlight how the tools used to assess students facilitated their engagement in the module.


Heavy Lifting at the Coal Face: Marking, Comments, and Practical Teaching

Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences

Not too many teachers see marking assignments and exams as their favourite part of the vocation. Not a few will say 'Oh I would be happy to teach until I drop, forget retirement, but when my day comes the one thing I will not miss is marking.' There is no need to dwell on why so many of us feel this way. But it is important to consider why this far from glamorous task lies at the very heart of the educator mission. This is the most practical and practice oriented aspect of teaching, and is probably the most important thing we do in the eyes of our students. That alone should command our notice. In this talk, we will explore just why this heavy lifting task is so central to the practice of teaching, and what can happen when one does it well.

The Pragmatic Ideology in Teaching

Ben LEONG Wing Lup
School of Computing

[We] cannot produce the kind of pupils we did before. All of them went in for qualities which led to individual survival. You ask any bright boy what he wants to do. He wants to be a doctor. Why? Because then he can go anywhere in the world; he will still be a doctor and make money. Or, if he can’t, he will be a lawyer because he also makes money. But you ask him to be an engineer or an architect or to do something, he says, “Then what happens? If the country collapses, I can’t get another job elsewhere.” That must change.

-- Lee Kuan Yew, at meeting with Principals on 29 Aug 1966.

Our former Prime Minister, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew was defined by his pragmatic approach to governance and public policy. Education, on the other hand, has often been framed with the lens of idealism. In this talk, we shall explore how the spirit of pragmatism can be applied to education to good effect.


The Idea of a University

Susan ANG Wan-Ling
Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences

John Henry Newman, in his Idea of a University (1852), wrote:
… it is, I believe, … the business of a University to make this intellectual culture its direct scope, or to employ itself in the education of the intellect,—… I say, a University, taken in its bare idea … has this object and this mission; it contemplates neither moral impression nor mechanical production; it professes to exercise the mind neither in art nor in duty; its function is intellectual culture; here it may leave its scholars, and it has done its work when it has done as much as this. It educates the intellect to reason well in all matters, to reach out towards truth, and to grasp it.

This lecture proposes to take Newman’s ‘idea of a university’ as its starting point, asking whether ‘intellectual culture’ or the ‘education of the intellect’ is, in fact, the end-point or sole purpose of a university. Should we, as educators, consider ‘moral impression’, or character formation to be part of our remit? Is Newman right when he says that ‘to discover and to teach’ are distinct functions and that the university exists to diffuse, rather than advance, knowledge? or, in fact, can research and teaching be viewed as related aspects of the university?


Back to Basics

TAN Chee Keong, Willie
School of Design and Environment

When it comes to teaching, most people ask the same question: “How do you do it?” One response would be to simply go back to the basics — teach in ways that motivate students to learn.  A Contingency Approach to teaching that focuses on developing traits, having clear goals and superior course design may be very useful in this regard. Together, these three elements interact within an environment that structures the incentives towards teaching and learning. This talk will elucidate how teaching goals may be developed, and how one may design courses that provide superior learning experiences for the students. Examples drawn from the speaker’s personal experiences will serve to illuminate the contingency approach to teaching.

Technology and the Role of the Teacher

University Scholars Programme

From massive online open courses (MOOCs) to mobile devices, recent technological developments are transforming education and putting in question the role of the teacher. If students can learn from Ivy League professors on Coursera or edX, have their essays graded instantly by software, and use iPads stored with materials to study on the go, then what would become of traditional classroom teaching? In this talk, some of the challenges of technology, and how we as teachers might position ourselves to benefit from its possibilities will be considered.


Lessons from “Kungfu Panda”

Joseph OOI Thian Leong
School of Design & Environment

Teaching, like “kung fu”, is an art which connotes trained ability or mastery of a skill or craft.  We may not be born with teaching skills, but we can acquire them.  Using the ancient art of storytelling as an effective teaching tool that engages not only the mind but also the heart, a journey to learning the art of teaching and discovering the heart of teaching will be narrated.

Nurturing Values

HOOI Shing Chuan
Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine

It was Aristotle who said, “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all”. This is true of all professions, but perhaps some more than others, where caring for others in the community is an integral part of its work. We aspire to produce people who are guided not just by their minds but also by their hearts, who in the words of William Osler, treat the person who has the disease rather than treat the disease. Examples of how we attempt to integrate the education of the mind and heart in one particular domain, to motivate learning and to nurture empathy and servant leadership will be shared.

Against Empathetic Learning

LO Mun Hou
University Scholars Programme

Many recent educational initiatives—from systematic ones such as service learning, to more discrete efforts like hijab challenges—assume the virtue of empathy, and it seems insane to “oppose” such a humanistic value. Despite, or because, of this, it is worth subjecting empathy to critical interrogation. A brief discussion of a contemporary memoir will help to reveal a potential limitation of empathetic learning, after which a pedagogical approach to help students avoid this pitfall will be suggested.


The 2011 public lecture addressed four issues—the need for skills-based education, including teaching students to learn and to pose questions/problems and the importance of going beyond classroom teaching into pastoral care in a student centric teaching and learning environment.

Skills-based education focuses not just on teaching students "about things" but how to "do things". Drawing from the martial arts concept of 形 - 意 - 卦, it is important to focus on not just the how" (形) but the "why" (意) and the "what if" (卦) of the skills students are learning. Only then will students learn the skill-sets necessary and acquire the wisdom to use those skill-sets appropriately.

Focusing first on how, we must teach students to be “self-directed” learners. There is a need, for instance, to examine the plot we designed in the problem-based learning approach. One way is to stage learning as a sequence of experiences, in which the outcome is based on the synthesized reflections of each learning encounter, thus enabling students to construct their own knowledge and create a better sense of ownership through this process.

Moving next to why, the questions we ask can generate specific results which in turn may lead us to further questions and so on in a virtuous cycle. As educators, it is therefore important that we cultivate in our students the habit of asking the right questions.

Finally, a case can be made that our interaction with our students outside the classroom and our handling of those who fail to meet their obligations as students are as significant and have as great an impact as what we actually teach them.

Ancient Martial Wisdom and Modern Skills Education

Joel LEE
Faculty of Law

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Designing a "Learning to Learn" Experience

CHEAH Kong Ming
School of Design and Environment

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Asking Questions

KOH Khee Meng
Faculty of Science

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Pastoral Care: Why it Matters?

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

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What is “higher” in Higher Education? Teach less learn more!

Phil CHAN Aik Hui
Faculty of Science

What does ‘higher’ in ‘higher education’ mean? Does it just mean ‘teach less, learn more’, where students are expected to be weaned from a spoon-feeding culture and to assume the stance of an independent learner? This issue will be explored through a Socratic teaching approach and examples will be drawn from a cross-faculty module offered to close to 400 students.

In Pursuit of Empathetic Knowledge

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Pedagogically, the teaching of any subject has the capacity of transforming students’ personal and intellectual selves by equipping them with the conceptual and analytical skills to “make sense” of society. Inspired by C. Wright Mill’s (1959) conception of the ‘Sociological Imagination’ – in which ‘public issues’ are always informed by ‘personal troubles’ – I have made it imperative that students first understand the location of their biographies in respect to framing problems, and how knowledge could be produced through research. This is essential for it allows the student to make the “experiential link” between the personal and the professional in the context of lived realities. I argue that this is fundamental to producing empathetic knowledge whose purpose must go beyond the classroom to connect with the everyday experiences of ordinary people out there.

2009 - 2003


Some Thoughts on Our Roles as Educators in the University

GOH Say Song
Faculty of Science

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Against Uncritical Pragmatism: Education for Doers Who Can Think and Thinkers Who Can Do

Kenneth Paul TANLee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy

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Engineering an Education to Create Student-centred Learning Environments

Faculty of Engineering

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Teaching Tech-savvy Students: Thoughts of an IT-naïve Old Fogey

Erle C.H. LIM
Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine

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Effective Use of Demonstration for Teaching and Learning

SOW Chorng Haur
Faculty of Science

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Teaching plus Technology minus Fear : An Experience of a Non-IT-Savvy Maths Lecturer

TAN, VictorFaculty of Science

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A Geographical Journey: From ‘B’ Student to ‘E’ Educator

CHANG Tou Chuang
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

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Active Student Engagement - A Precursor to Quality Education

Lakshminarayanan SAMAVEDHAM 
Faculty of Engineering

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Coping with Rapid Content Changes in Information Systems Education

TAN Kay Chen
Faculty of Engineering

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Improving Teaching Effectiveness: Some Examples in Engineering Education

Lakshminarayanan SAMAVEDHAM 
Faculty of Engineering

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Personal Reflections on Teaching

Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine

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Spurring Students on to Life-Long Learning

SEAH Kar Heng
Faculty of Engineering

Good Teaching: Some Critical Success Factors

Jochen WIRTZ
NUS Business School