News Details | 12-Apr-2013

From freshman to global player

After 2011’s curriculum revamp, NTU now turns to transformation in teaching

Two years after Nanyang Technological University (NTU) undertook a major revamp of its curriculum, the University is embarking on another transformation. 

This time the focus is on teaching, with changes being made in the way a student learns and is taught, embedding the latest and best teaching practices through the establishment of a new teaching academy and recognising and rewarding excellence in teaching.

NTU is also tapping on its autonomous institute, the National Institute of Education (NIE) which is at the forefront of teacher training as its resource. NIE has been advancing the academic and professional development of teachers and school leaders in Singapore by incorporating innovative and best teaching practices.

The new strategic blueprint called NTU Education aims to educate graduates to meet the needs of employers in the 21st century and caters to the new ways of learning that today’s young need. Commonly dubbed EPIC Learners, today’s generation of students absorb information in ways that are experiential and exploratory, participatory, image-driven, and connected to the world.

Explaining the need for this strategic education blueprint, NTU President, Professor Bertil Andersson said, “Today’s undergraduates are in the throes of momentous changes and with that, there is a need to revolutionise two key aspects in education – how teaching is carried out and how students acquire knowledge.

“As the global market place changes, we need to move, and quickly, too. The transformation in teaching, which we are introducing, has to be seen in this light. We need to move from a “teaching mode” to a “learning mode” so that we lay a solid foundation for our students to learn how to learn. After they graduate, they will need to continue learning to succeed in a world where new knowledge is growing exponentially every day. 

He said the new NTU Education framework will allow the University to redefine the educational experience by promoting closer engagement between our professors and students, and giving greater support to the faculty in this area. Professors will explore the best ways to meet students' needs and their teaching will be enhanced with the latest tools. 

“When it comes to best teaching practices and global research in pedagogies, NTU has a strategic advantage -- the National Institute of Education (NIE). NIE is one of NTU’s foremost institutes and it is known globally for teacher education and education research. NTU is well placed to tap on the expertise right here on our campus to redefine the undergraduate learning experience in Singapore, and even become a model for the rest of the world,” Professor Andersson added.

Flipped classroom

NTU aims to have a wider and better use of the online experience to transfer information and knowledge to the student. A new idea that will be implemented across the University is the flipped classroom where knowledge transfer from teacher to students takes place in advance, typically through online lectures at the students’ own time. This means that students will learn about the topic before, rather than during or after class. 
The classroom will thus become a place for more active and self-directed learning, as well as closer participation and collaboration through questioning and discussion. Professors will spend their time addressing students' questions and difficulties rather than lecturing, making better use of face-to-face time.

Flipped teaching will be piloted in the part-time Electrical & Electronic Engineering and Mechanical Engineering Bachelor degree courses from August 2013, before it is rolled out across the whole university. 

Infrastructural expansion continues

To prepare for the delivery of this new pedagogy, NTU has already transformed about 90 tutorial rooms into smart classrooms, complete with flexible cluster seating for small group discussions, multimedia digital aids and audio-visual equipment for each cluster.

Two learning hubs will be built to support this new approach in its learning pedagogy. The first learning hub building, currently under construction, will be ready by early 2014, adding another 55 smart classrooms. An iconic structure, it is designed by renowned British architect and designer Thomas Heatherwick.

The second learning hub is slated to be ready by 2016. The learning hubs are just two of 14 new physical developments that are being built at NTU within the next three years, that include new learning, living and recreational spaces.

Boost for teaching excellence

A teaching academy will be set up to bring together top teachers and their best practices so that other faculty members can learn from them. From 2013, NTU will give out awards at college and university levels to recognise outstanding teaching practices and to encourage faculty to implement teaching innovations.

The winners will be recognised as Academy Fellows, stamping their status as great teachers. The academy will also organise events and conduct master-class teaching workshops to promote good teaching practices.

New Education Excellence Grants will be awarded to faculty who wish to raise the bar in teaching through research in instruction and learning. The results of their efforts will be shared University-wide.

All new junior faculty members will also take a foundation course in university learning and teaching within their first year of joining the University. 

NTU’s National Institute of Education will be a solid resource pool.  NIE has been actively advancing the academic and professional development of teachers and school leaders in Singapore by incorporating innovative and best teaching practices.

“NIE is internationally recognised as one of the leading teacher preparation institutions in the world.  It is well-placed to provide direction in the innovative use of new pedagogies and educational technologies, and bring NTU’s teaching to a higher level. We will be working closely with our fellow faculty members in NTU,” said Professor Lee Sing Kong, Director of NIE.

Ramping up the student experience

The University is also committed to improving all areas of Student Life, another key pillar of NTU Education.  NTU is focussing on four priorities, including encouraging students to make use of the opportunities in its diverse cosmopolitan campus, closer consultations with student leaders, improving campus vibrancy and paying greater attention to the health and well-being of its students.

These four priorities are anchored on learning, and learning that cultivates the qualities that NTU graduates should exemplify: character, competence, creativity, communication and civic-mindedness. These are the 5Cs that the NTU Education framework intends to instil in its students.

“In the globalised working world that our students will graduate into, they will be faced with future challenges and problems for which there may not be one right answer. But our NTU graduates will be trained so they can understand the interconnectedness of issues, systematically ask the right questions and come up with creative solutions,” said Professor Andersson.

“They will be competent ethical professionals with a global outlook, able to communicate their ideas and work effectively in culturally diverse teams and settings. As strong believers in giving back to the community, NTU graduates will be socially engaged and prepared to contribute to the greater good. That is what being a global player is all about.”

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Media contact:

Feisal Abdul Rahman
Senior Assistant Director (Media Relations)
Corporate Communications Office
Nanyang Technological University
Tel: (65) 6790 6687

About Nanyang Technological University

A research-intensive public university, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has 33,500 undergraduate and postgraduate students in the colleges of Engineering, Business, Science, and Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences. It has a new medical school, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, set up jointly with Imperial College London.

NTU is also home to world-class autonomous institutes – the National Institute of Education, S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Earth Observatory of Singapore, and Singapore Centre on Environmental Life Sciences Engineering – and various leading research centres such as the Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI), Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N) and the Institute on Asian Consumer Insight (ACI).

A fast-growing university with an international outlook, NTU is putting its global stamp on Five Peaks of Excellence: Sustainable Earth, Future Healthcare, New Media, New Silk Road, and Innovation Asia.

Besides the main Yunnan Garden campus, NTU also has a satellite campus in Singapore’s science and tech hub, one-north, and a third campus in Novena, Singapore’s medical district.
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