NUS Psychology wins Regional 2015 SPS–ARUPS Student Research Award

NUS Psychology wins Regional 2015 SPS–ARUPS Student Research Award

The 5th ASEAN Regional Union of Psychological Societies Congress, organized jointly by the Singapore Psychological Society (SPS) and the ASEAN Regional Union of Psychological Societies (ARUPS), took place in Singapore from 25 to 27 March 2015. Among 227 research entries that were submitted by psychologists and academicians in the region, and the 147 that were finally accepted for presentation, Mr. Yong Zhihao Paul, a recent NUS Psychology graduand and winner of the 2014 Singapore Prison Psychology Prize, has won the SPS-ARUPS Student Research Award this year for his submission titled Enhancing Online Learning Using Retrieval-based Practice: Implications for Singapore’s Educational System. This research was first pursued as Mr. Yong’s Honours Thesis at the NUS under the mentorship of Dr. Lim Wee Hun Stephen, one of NUS’s recent named Rising Stars and enlistees to her Honour Roll for Teaching Excellence.

The researchers commented: “A goal that modern Singapore pursues relates to meaningful advancements in our educational system, which would in turn determine the continued progress of our society, in terms of our workforce quality, national economy, and so forth. We constantly seek productive methodologies of education – instruction and learning – with the aim to discover optimal educational approaches. Educators typically rely heavily on learning activities that encourage elaborative studying, whereas activities that require students to retrieve and reconstruct knowledge are used less frequently and often for nothing more than testing purposes. Here we show that practising to retrieve information gained from online Coursera lectures actually, albeit counterintuitively, produced better long-term knowledge retention than did studying that information repeatedly. Based on the findings, there is a need to carefully (re)consider the notion and role of ‘testing’ in schools and contemporary – online – learning platforms, because testing potentially promotes learning. Our longer-term goal is to contribute meaningfully to shaping the educational landscape in Singapore through our research programme.”

Currently a psychologist at the Singapore Prison Service, Mr. Yong expresses his appreciation to his research supervisor. In his words to Dr. Lim: “You have this unique ability to connect with, and influence students to excel beyond the classroom. This has spurred me to do the same with my peers and juniors. Your traits of a distinguished educator are more than just life-changing. Your inspiration for excellence and your friendship transcend beyond the people you meet – it is ‘lives-changing’. I have not met any other educator who makes me feel truly confident in my work and in myself. You have instilled a burning passion in me to be a lifelong learner. I would not be half the psychology graduate I am today, without your inspiration and supervision.”

Dr. Lim, who also sits on the Executive Council of the NUS Teaching Academy, shares his personal thoughts: “The theme of the ARUPS Congress is Professionalising Psychology: Raising the Standards of Psychology for Nation Building. We are glad that our educational psychology research won an award. As we mourn the passing on of our nation’s first Prime Minister Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, we fondly remember Mr. Lee as someone who made every effort to strengthen, among the many other things, education in Singapore. In his speech to principals of schools at the Victoria Theatre on 29 August 1966, he shared about the kind of education he would like to have, if he were given superhuman powers:

The ideal product is the student, the university graduate, who is strong, robust, rugged, with tremendous qualities of stamina, endurance and at the same time, with great intellectual discipline and, most important of all, humility and love for his community; a readiness to serve whether God or king or country or, if you like, just his community.

As an academic and educator, I continue to do my part for the nation by nurturing students holistically, and preparing them for life after university. I believe all of us have a very specific role to play in nation building. Together, let us bring the legacy into the future, and keep on loving and building Singapore our home.”



Mr. Paul Yong (left); Ms. Clare Yeo (middle; President, Singapore Psychological Society); Dr. Stephen Lim (right)

NUS Teaches Chinese Communication Creatively through “Kungfu Hustle”

Friday, 24 October 2014

Lianhe Wanbao

This was a report on the creative use of film on the module “Bridging East and West: Exploring Chinese Communication” offered by the NUS Department of Chinese Studies from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. This is an exciting module, one of its kind that is designed for students who feel that they are weak in Chinese but would like to learn more about how Chinese is applied in the various fields of Chinese communication. The module facilitator Assoc Prof Lee Cher Leng says that students will benefit in the workplace if they are able to code-switch effectively between East-West cultures. The report highlights the creative use of film (“Kungfu Hustle”) in the module to teach the basics of Peking opera, the discussion of the origins of the students’ names through interviewing their grandparents, as well as effective Chinese business communication.

Click here to read full article in Mandarin.

Congratulations to FASS Geography’s Rachel Oh on her Oral Presentation Award!

Rachel Oh (FASS Geography, MA student) competed against almost 100 other presenters and won the Best Oral Presentation Award for her talk during the recent 3rd International Symposium on Integrated Coastal Zone Management in Antalya, Turkey.

Her presentation was based on her ongoing Master’s research project, “Restoring abandoned shrimp ponds to mangrove forests: a potential method for sustainable coastal management”. Her achievement also reflects very positively on the highly active mangrove research group (the Mangrove Lab) in TEC/the Geography Department.

Read more about the Mangrove Lab here:

Photo Credit: NUS Geography Facebook Page


An Interview with Lee Kuan Yew Gold Medal Recipient Joseph Daniels

Mr Joseph Daniels graduated from the Joint Degree Programme (JDP) in Geography hosted by NUS and University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (UNC-CH) with First Class Honours in 2013. He has won several awards, including the Lee Kuan Yew Gold Medal and NUS Geographical Society Gold Medal.

Currently a Master of Arts candidate in economic geography at the University of British Columbia, he came back to Singapore recently to conduct fieldwork for his master’s thesis. We had the wonderful opportunity to catch up with him to find out more about his experiences.

 Hi Joe, can you tell us a bit about your research?
 For my honours thesis, I was looking at bank restructuring in the early 2000s here in Singapore after the Asian financial crisis. I was focused on the ways in which state-firm relations had been reshaped by the restructuring as part of a larger process of international financial centre development. For my master’s thesis, I’m looking at the financialisation of urban space, or the relationships between real estate and finance, and specifically at the real estate investment trusts (REITs) and their role in shaping urban development and management in Singapore. This is work that tries to integrate what is called the ‘social studies of finance’ with the wider array of concerns found in Geography pertaining to places and spaces of economic, political, and social change.

 That’s interesting. What got you interested in Geography?
 At first I convinced my mom to let me enroll into UNC because I wanted to do public policy. To this day, I have never taken a formal course in public policy. However, I took a few geography courses in my first year and fell in love with it. It appeals more to me – I prefer to theorise and think about the world as opposed to perhaps the practicality of planning the world (though I do believe one leads to the other). Ultimately, geography provided a means of addressing the questions I had about the world in a way other disciplines had not—perhaps best captured by what some have called its intellectual promiscuity. The undisciplined nature of the field’s theoretical tool box was most appealing. I mean, who knew I would be able to meaningfully study the finance industry as a geographer! The ability to be surprised by what I learn is what is most enjoyable about geography.  Geography at NUS is one of the best places to do that.

 Q: Why choose Singapore?
 I always knew I wanted to study abroad for a while. Unlike most of my peers who went to Europe or Latin America, I wanted to go somewhere different. This concern for difference and being different has probably impacted more than I would typically admit, and probably is one of the reasons the identification of Geographer was so appealing. Yet I didn’t have the language skills, aside from a little bit of German, so I didn’t want to go to a place that was too daunting, particularly because I wanted my education to be worthwhile. I did not want my study abroad experience to be a glorified vacation. I stumbled upon the JDP which happened to be in Singapore and thought it seemed like a great opportunity. Little did I know that NUS Geography is one of the top programmes in the world and that it would impact my life so greatly!

How did find your experience living and studying in Singapore?

JD: Well, I keep coming back! (laughs) This is now my third extended trip to Singapore. I was really interested in what NUS had to offer for its strength in economic geography and I really took advantage of all of what the joint degree programme (JDP) had to offer. I also enjoyed the independence I had in planning my readings and assignments in NUS. The JDP, with its support at both UNC and NUS, has certainly opened new doors for me; to new intellectual horizons in new places. I would do it again in a heartbeat!

I was staying at the Prince George’s Park Residences here in NUS and also at my friends’ places at Ang Mo Kio and Kovan. The best part of my experience living and studying in Singapore has been creating what will be life-long friendships from an incredibly supportive group of students and mentors.

lky1         Joseph planting lemongrass at his friend’s house in Kovan

lky2(from left) Prof Robbie Goh, Vice Dean for Undergraduate Studies, Faizal Bin Abdul Aziz, Prof Brenda Yeoh, FASS Dean, Tan Sock Keng, Joseph Daniels and Yeo Li Kuang. The students are all from the Joint Degree Programme.

Semesters will end, but learning won’t

Pauline Luk, Department of Communications and New Media

I enjoyed very much my first year of being a graduate teaching assistant at NUS. It was challenging but rewarding. In the first few tutorials, I was frustrated. It seemed no one was interested in the module. I saw from the students’ eyes that they were puzzled at how the research methods they learned could be applied in real life. I felt like a failure, but I thought I needed to come up with a new trick to encourage them to participate in the learning.

I decided to set as my primary goal for the semester to use my training in communication and my research experience in qualitative research to emphasize integration of theories with practice. I realized it took a lot of time and experience to gather a complete bag of tricks and skills in teaching. I needed to make the teaching and learning interesting.

During tutorials, I associated theories with real situations I encountered while doing research. On some days, students would stay behind after tutorial to ask questions about their projects and how they could practice what they learnt. And when this happened, I would think: “This is a great day”. I saw students smile when they could associate what they did in their research projects with what they learnt in the lectures. I imagined that they would have tried their best to associate what they learnt in their projects and would be wondering if those same lessons could be applied to their work in future.

Learning is never-ending. I was lucky to have had an opportunity to help carry out a project of a group of students after their module was over. This came from a challenging invitation given to me by Professor Jeffery Peterson, the lecturer of the module, who suggested that I help put up the students’ project in a public exhibition organized by the Department of Communication and New Media to be housed at the ArtScience Museum in March 2014. I was worried if this could happen because the semester was already over by the time we got the invitation. This meant students would have to continue working on the project without any academic rewards.
I hesitated at first because I knew most NUS students were very concerned about their academic results. They would prefer to study hard to get a higher CAP or participate in a CCA to get CCA points. The project we planned to do could bring no such benefit. It also required a lot of time and commitment.

When I sent an email to recruit volunteers to participate in the project, the response was good. We formed a team of seven students from different tutorial groups, including a few from tutorial groups taught by another tutor. We had meetings to apply what we learnt in class to prepare for an exhibition from data collected. The volunteer team coordinated the photo selection for the installation within a week using social media. The volunteer students showed increasing confidence and reflectivity when we defined the purpose of the exhibition. They came up with creative ideas to attract more people to support the project. In the latter stage of the preparation, we collected original files of photos from selected assignments from the module. Luckily, we got 100% response rate within 24 hours. Most of the students were excited to present their coursework to the public and showed their eagerness to share.

The D-day came. The installation was showcased at the ArtScience Museum which attracted members of the public. I learned to call on students and get their help in presenting their ideas to the public. At the beginning, students were not familiar with sharing their ideas proactively. I encouraged them to approach
and engage visitors. Slowly, their confidence grew and by the end of the day, I could see a change in their level of engagement. This reinforced the meaning this project held for both me and the students.

From this experience, I learned to take up challenges for students. As a teacher, we ought to learn to trust students’ ability and offer them guidance so they can learn by themselves. Pushing the boundaries for both myself and the students is difficult but it is a way to learn. We can be a role model or we can just be a catalyst for learning. If there is a learning opportunity, give the students some hands-on practice. They would come to love and enjoy it. The outcome can be more than we expect.

Learning can be go beyond the curriculum. If it is meaningful, there would always be a way to make things work.

I hope that in the future I can create a more “Lively, Encouraging, Analytical, Responsible, Navigated, Interactive, Novel and Grateful” learning experience for my students. I hope my students can make a difference and can transform theory into practice in an enjoyable way.

Pauline Luk is a recipient of the Graduate Students’ Teaching Award (GSTA) for teaching undertaken in Semester 1, 2013-2014.

The dollars and economic sense of Cupid agencies

Saturday, 30 August 2014

The Straits Times

This was an article contribution by Ms Elisabetta Gentile, a lecturer from the Department of Economics at the NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Discussing whether there is an economic rationale for matchmaking services, she highlighted that dating markets, like labour markets, are match making markets where there are two sets of elements (e.g. employers, and workers), and each element has a set of preferences. The market is in equilibrium when each element of one set is matched with an element of the other set. Dating markets, however, are different from labour markets, in that it is unclear who the buyer and the seller are, but the principle is basically the same. She opined that by facilitating the meeting of supply and demand, matchmakers eliminate information asymmetries and correct the market failure. That makes the whole society better off by creating more matches, and higher satisfaction among matched pairs.

The article is part of a monthly series “Ask: NUS Economists” by the NUS Department of Economics. Each month, a panel will address a topical issue.

Five Malay youths among outstanding graduates

Tuesday 8 July 2014

Berita Harian

In today’s edition of Berita Harian, there was a feature on NUS Commencement 2014. In his address at the main commencement ceremony, NUS President Professor Tan Chorh Chuan encouraged graduates to convert dissatisfaction into concrete ideas and action for positive change, which can then lead to contribution to making things better, whether it be at work, or in the wider community.

The report also featured five Malay youths who excelled and were among the outstanding graduates at this year’s commencement, including Mr Faizal Abdul Aziz and Mr Afdhaluddin AB Rahman, from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences; Mr Syed Ali Abdullah Aljunied, from School of Computing; Mr Afzal Ali, from the Faculty of Law, and Ms Nurul Azizah Johari, from the Faculty of Science.

Multilateral approach to tackling haze still apt

Thursday, 5 June 2014

The Straits Times

This was an article contribution by Associate Professor Alberto Salvo from the Department of Economics at NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, and Mr Denis Tan, who has just completed his undergraduate studies in Economics and Engineering at NUS. The authors discussed how the haze affect Singaporeans and what policies Singapore should pursue. They opined that Singapore needs to continue working with Indonesia and the neighbouring nations to improve enforcement of Indonesia’s own environmental protection laws, as promoting awareness of health hazards will raise the perceived cost of burning to the local community and shift a culture of burning waste.

The article is part of a monthly series “Ask: NUS Economists” by the NUS Department of Economics. Each month, a panel will address a topical issue.

To find out more on the article, click here.