ALSET Launches “Learning to Learn Better” Pilot, Gears Up for New Course Offerings at NUS in 2018

Dr. Robert Kamei (top left) and Instructor Fun Man Fung (bottom right) recently launched a pilot for “Learning to Learn Better,” a new course on learning science for undergraduates at NUS.

On August 21, the Institute for the Application of Learning Science and Educational Technology (ALSET) launched its pilot of Learning to Learn Better, an undergraduate course at National University of Singapore (NUS) that examines recent research and longstanding wisdom from the field of learning science. Designed to provide students with knowledge and practical tips that will help them succeed in their studies, this pilot will shape the development of for-credit classes on learning science that ALSET will offer at NUS in the coming semesters.

As lifelong learning becomes increasingly important to success in virtually every domain, remarkably few students today get any kind of formal instruction in the basic principles of how we learn, choose, and think about the world. Consequently, many students cling to suboptimal or ineffective learning strategies during their university years and develop habits that can carry forward into their adult lives. ALSET aims to change this with courses and other initiatives that help learners to learn in the most efficient, productive, and enjoyable manner possible.

The Learning to Learn Better pilot represents the ALSET’s first step towards creating courses on learning science that are geared for NUS students. Structured as a blended learning experience, the pilot course includes 12 short instructional videos on key concepts in learning science, as well as reflective tasks and small group seminars in which students work through the course content. Offered over the course of 6 weeks, the series of instructional videos and class sessions cover the following areas:

  •      Self-motivation
  •      Goal setting
  •      Self-organizing
  •      Practice
  •      Repetition
  •      Spacing
  •      Interleaving
  •      Making connections
  •      Collaboration
  •      Managing sleep

For the pilot, ALSET enrolled over 30 students, which were divided into small groups. One of the groups will be led by Dr. Robert Kamei, Associate Provost (Education) at NUS and Director of ALSET. The other groups will be led by Fun Man Fung, an Instructor with the Department of Chemistry and a Core Education Instructor with ALSET. Both are experienced teachers with a longstanding interest in learning science, education technology, and innovative pedagogy. 

Students convene for one of the opening sessions of the pilot.

After the course, students will complete a reflective essay and questionnaires that will provide feedback on the course. This input will help ALSET to develop for-credit courses in learning science in subsequent semesters. It will also help students consolidate and elaborate on what they learned during the course.  

ALSET will also draw on the experience in the pilot as it develops a related course called Learning to Choose, which will cover issues around decision making, such as the role of cognitive biases and heuristics. ALSET welcomes input from the NUS community as it finalizes preparations for these classes. Please visit the ALSET website for more information.  

Founded in 2016, ALSET’s mission is improve education through the application of learning science and education technology. The Institute conducts original research on learning science, technology, and pedagogy; promotes novel and entrepreneurial projects that improve learning outcomes; and works to ensure that the latest research and learning technologies have broad impact, both at NUS and also in the broader education community.