We are pleased to announce that two of our graduate students have recently won the Graduate Students’ Teaching Award. Eri Sasaki is receiving the award for the second time. Congratulations!!

Takashi eri_sasaki

Takashi Obana
Eri Sasaki

Since Takashi is a first-time winner, we also took the opportunity to find out what makes him such an effective teacher.

1. What inspires you to teach?

When I think about the inspiring classes I had in the past, they were always the classes where teachers or professors introduced me to the passionate lives of psychologists or philosophers (e.g., Emerson, Maslow, Nietzsche, Husserl). I learned from those classes that we don’t study just for the sake of conforming to the society. But we actually learn so that we can courageously question the unexamined presuppositions of established norms or theories. So I deliver the knowledge to students not just to help them get good grades on the final exam but to encourage them to use those knowledge so that they may make choices one day to search and fight against the dogmatic/unquestioned norms out in the world. This belief is what inspires me to teach.

2. What are some of the major challenges you face as a teacher?

The major challenge in teaching is definitely the preparation since I have to exhaust all the possible questions that could come up during the tutorial. It’s the most time consuming part of the teaching and we TAs still have to reserve time for our own research. When the preparation is well done, then the teaching flows. Another challenge is the balance between delivery of the course material and occasional sharing of personal experiences. Through my experience of teaching, I came to learn that students really value the latter so I try not to forget including this element in the tutorial.

3. Why do you think you are an effective teacher?

This question makes me feel very shy to answer. But if I were to state some distinguishable trait of mine compared to other tutors in NUS, it would be that I used to be a complete drop out in the school. So I truly know how it is like to feel lost during the lectures or tutorials. Therefore, I triple check that all the students are on the same page before I proceed. Students who are very quick to absorb the materials dislike my slow pace but fortunately, most students seem to like it.

Talk by A/P Mike Cheung on “Recent Advances in Meta-Analyses”


Title: Recent Advances in Meta-Analyses

Keynote speakers: Prof. John Ioannidis and A/P Mike Cheung

Date: Monday, 16 May 2016

Time: 9:00 am – 12:30pm

Venue: Tahir Foundation Building, Seminar Room 1, Level 8

Organizer: Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, NUS

 * Please refer to the link below for details.


Talk by A/P Mike Cheung on “Recent Advances in Structural Equation Modeling”


Title: Recent Advances in Structural Equation Modeling

Speaker: A/P Mike Cheung

Date: Thursday, 12 May 2016

Time: 12:30 pm – 1:30pm

Venue: Duke-NUS Medical School, Level 2, Amphitheatre, 8 College Rd, Singapore 169857

* All are welcome.

* To register, click on the following link: http://goo.gl/forms/hiqLezjWc6

* Buffet lunch will be served, outside the Amphitheatre on Level 2 at Duke-NUS Medical School.

* Please refer to the link below for more details.





Speaker: Ms. Eri Sasaki

Title:  Go beyond obligations to keep your partner grateful in the long run: Effects of relationship length and perceived obligations on gratitude

Date: Friday 22 April, 1-2 pm 

Venue: AS4/02-08 (Psychology Department Meeting Room) 


While gratitude brings benefits to a relationship, the experience of gratitude may differ depending on the type of relationship. The present study aims to examine how relationship length influences gratitude towards a positive partner’s gesture among dating couples, by employing a dyadic daily diary methodology. Multilevel modeling analyses showed that individuals in longer relationship experienced less gratitude towards a positive partner’s act, possibly because they held higher expectations of their partners. Additional analyses found that the perceived obligatory nature of the partner’s act moderated the effect of relationship length on gratitude, such that when a partner’s gesture was perceived to be non-obligatory, the effect of relationship length on gratitude was negligible. Implications on facilitating gratitude experiences in longer relationships will be discussed.

About the Speaker:

 Eri Sasaki is a Masters candidate pursuing her M.Soc.Sci at the Department of Psychology at NUS under the supervision of Dr Tsai Fen-Fang. Her research interests lie in the intersection of close relationships and positive emotions. Her current research explores the experience of gratitude in romantic relationships.

Psychology alumnus, Chan Kai Qin, featured in latest issue of APS Observer


We are very proud to note that one of our former students, Chan Kai Qin, has been featured in the latest issue of the APS Observer. Kai Qin is now an Assistant Professor at the Psychology Department in Ashoka University and is working with his colleagues to revolutionize Psychology’s identity in India. For the full story, go to http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/publications/observer/2016/april-16/ashoka-university-builds-science-centric-psychology-program.html

Chan Kai Qin graduated with a Honours Degree (2nd Upper) in Psychology and a Masters of Social Science (Psychology) from the National University of Singapore. His Honours Thesis examined the effect of implicit relationship primes on risk taking and found that being exposed to the name of a friend led to participants taking more risk in computer task relative to being exposed to neutral words. This work won the 2008/09 Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Prize and was later published in a leading relationship journal, Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. His Master Thesis extended his Honours work by showing that religious primes (e.g., the word ‘God’) increased risk-taking on the same task. This work is published in a premiere Social Psychology journal, Social Psychological and Personality Science. Kai Qin subsequently pursued his PhD studies in Radboud University and is now a faculty in Ashoka University.



Speaker: Dr. Felipe Medina

Title:  Study of the cognition and its neural substrate in New Caledonian crows

Date: Friday 8 April, 1-2 pm 

Venue: AS4/02-08 (Psychology Department Meeting Room) 


Recent studies have consolidated the view that corvids constitute a powerful research model for animal cognition. Wild-caught New Caledonian crows are renowned for their ability to craft and use hooked tools to forage for food and for showing problem solving skills in captivity that rival those of primates. In this talk I will present some of these findings and briefly discuss the importance of using a comparative approach in understanding the evolution of cognition.

About the Speaker:

Felipe Medina is a Research Fellow at the Dept. of Psychology. He got his PhD at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. He has done research in the anatomy of the visual system of rodents in Chile and studied the behaviour of captive crows in New Caledonia. Presently, he is doing neurophysiological research with monkeys with special interest in the effects of cortical microstimulation during behavioural tasks.



Speaker: A/P Mike Cheung

Title: A Non-Technical Introduction to Statistics using Path Diagrams

Date: Friday 1 April, 1-2 pm

Venue: AS4/02-08 (Psychology Department Meeting Room)


Statistical models are essential tools for decision-making in many
disciplines in the social and behavioral sciences. However, many
researchers (and students) are daunted by complicated formulas that they must learn in order to understand the basic and the more advanced statistics. Many researchers also find that the formulas they have learned do not seemingly relate to each other. In this talk, I will attempt to give an introduction to statistics using path diagrams under the structural equation modeling (SEM) framework. Using such diagrams, I will try to integrate all the basic concepts in statistics involving t-test, ANOVA, MANOVA, correlation, regression, SEM and meta-analysis, into one cohesive framework. It is hoped that participants will revisit the basic concepts in statistics with a new perspective.

About the Speaker:

A/P Mike Cheung is an Associate Professor at the Department of
Psychology, and an Associate Professor (by courtesy) at the Department of Management & Organisation, NUS. His research interests are quantitative methods, especially in the topics of meta-analysis, structural equation modeling, and multilevel modeling. He recently published a book titled “Meta-Analysis: A Structural Equation Modeling Approach” published by Wiley. He is co-editing a book series titled “SpringerBriefs in Research Synthesis and Meta-Analysis” published by Springer and a special issue on “meta-analytic structural equation modeling” that will appear in the journal /Research Synthesis Methods/.



Speaker: Dr. Gerrit Maus

Title:  Predictive Localisation in the Visual System

Date: Friday 18 March, 1-2 pm 

Venue: AS4/02-08 (Psychology Department Meeting Room) 


Localizing objects in the environment is one of the primary functions of the visual system. Dynamic environments with constantly moving objects pose serious problems to the visual system because of slow information transmission and processing in the brain. To overcome processing delays and to enable successful interaction with objects, the brain needs to predict the positions of moving objects. I will present evidence from psychophysics, neuroimaging, and transcranial magnetic stimulation experiments, demonstrating how predictive mechanisms in visual cortex facilitate accurate perceptual localization of moving objects. The oculomotor system can also adapt and automatically correct for object displacements, when a target object moves predictably during eye blinks. Taken together, my research shows how the visual system employs predictive mechanisms to correct for processing delays and localization errors.

About the Speaker:

 Dr. Gerrit Maus studied Cognitive Science at the University of Osnabrück and got his PhD at the University of Sussex in Brighton, UK. During this time he visited the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research in Frankfurt to begin fMRI studies of the visual cortex. After that, Gerrit worked in California for 7 years, first at the Center for Mind and Brain at UC Davis, and then at UC Berkeley. He has also spent time at the University of Glasgow, at the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute in San Francisco and at the Laboratoire Psychologie de la Perception in Paris. Since October 2015 he is an Assistant Professor at Nanyang Technological University.



Speaker: Ms. Sofia Lau

Title:  The Role of Visual Processing and Phonological Awareness in Word Reading among Mandarin and Malay Bilinguals

Date: Tuesday, 15 March, 12-1 pm 

Venue: AS4/02-08 (Psychology Department Meeting Room) 


Bilingual learners with different language backgrounds (LB) have been found to develop their second language reading skills using different modes of processing (Muljani, Koda, & Moates, 1998).  These differences, often referred to as visual vs phonological, have been attributed to the transparency of the orthography-phonology mappings of their first written language (L1). (Franceshini, Gori, Ruffino, Pedrolli and Facoett, 2012). The aim of this study was to investigate the extent to which the linguistic structure of Singaporean bilinguals’ home language influences non-lexical phonological processing of English words and nonwords. Mandarin-English (n=30) and Malay-English (n=30) bilinguals (aged 6-8 years) were matched pairwise for age, nonverbal intelligence, and English receptive vocabulary, and performance on phonological awareness (PA), visual processing (VP), reading and spelling was assessed.  Consistent with the orthography-phonology relationships in their home languages, the results showed that the Mandarin-English children had developed significantly better visual processing ability whilst the Malay-English children had developed significantly better phonological awareness and were better at decoding nonwords. Despite no group differences in reading performance overall, separate hierarchical regression analyses revealed that VP as well as PA predicted accuracy for regular inconsistent words for the Mandarin-English bilinguals, but not for the Malay-English bilinguals. Pedagogical implications are briefly discussed.

About the Speaker:

 Sofia is currently a Masters students in the NUS Psychology Department, and is interested in bilingualism, particularly in the acquisition of a second language (in this case, the English Language). She hopes to investigate the cognitive processes that underlie one’s mastery of a new language. 



Speaker: Dr. Neha Khetrapal

Title:  Linguistic Competence on Pronouns in Children with Autism

Date: Friday, 11 March, 1-2 pm 

Venue: AS4/02-08 (Psychology Department Meeting Room) 


Language researchers explain the nature of any linguistic phenomena in the adult grammar by studying how children’s competence develops or matures with respect to the chosen linguistic phenomenon. But explaining such competence can be challenging as it is not directly observable in children and has to be discerned from the performance data. The performance data itself is mediated by non-linguistic factors (e.g. working memory) and is not a true representation of linguistic competence. The problems are compounded when the researchers aim to understand linguistic competence in developmental disorders like autism, characterized by communication and language impairments. Is it possible to really know whether such special children are as linguistically competent as their typically developing peers by deploying tasks that tap directly into their competence? The current presentation proposes a novel dynamic Truth Value Judgment Task (TVJT) to assess the understanding of pronouns in sentences like He washed Superman with a sponge. The broader aim was to find out whether children with autism respect grammatical constraints of their first language (e.g. English) and are able to demonstrate syntactic/grammatical knowledge when interpreting phrases like these where the referent of the pronoun (he) cannot be found within the sentence. Or in other words, Superman is not a legitimate referent. 10 children on the autism spectrum (chronological ages 5;4 to 12;7; M = 10.5), classified as high functioning were tested on a specially developed TVJT that was presented on an iPad. The experimental findings showed that children with autism were as competent as a control group of typically developing children (matched on nonverbal IQ) on this task assessing their grammatical knowledge. Results indicate no deviance of grammatical development in contrast to other recent studies and highlight the importance of using a sensitive task for working with children with special needs.  

About the Speaker:

Neha is a Psychology (Honors) graduate from University of Delhi (Lady Shri Ram College) and a Master’s degree holder in Cognitive Science from University of Allahabad. She finally finished her PhD program at in 2015 and was supported by the International Post Graduate Research Scholarship (IPRS) for the tenure. She is interested in various aspects of child language development, social and cognitive psychology. Currently she a research scientist/post doctoral fellow at the Institute of High Performance Computing, A*Star, Singapore where she is investigating music as a tool for achieving emotional regulation and improved communication in children on the autism spectrum. 

Blog of the NUS Psychology Department

Skip to toolbar