Ongoing Research Projects

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UTown Students' Experience: A longitudinal study

Name(s) of Researchers: Adrian Lee (PI), Kiruthika Ragupathi

Project Duration: Longitudinal study

This study investigates the impact of the NUS University Town Residential Colleges on students' holistic development so as to gain a better understanding of the social and academic outcomes of the NUS student experience. The study analyses the online perception survey results, on-site field observations, focus group discussions and interviews for students who belonged to five sub-groups based on the residence arrangements to gain additional granularity with which to understand the NUS student experience. The five sub-groups of students in this study are: those who stay off-campus with family (OCF) and in rental accommodation (OCR), those who stay in halls of residence (HR), those who stay in student residences (SR), and those who stay in Residential Colleges (RC). The study is aimed to help the university in understanding the distinctive features of student experience, the common and positive student outcomes at the respective living arrangements, and the conditions that foster positive outcomes (academic, intellectual and social).

It is hoped that learning from this diverse experience will strengthen policies and practices and identify those that can be adopted to sustain and enhance the positive outcomes at residential colleges and halls of residence while also enable the sharing of best practices amongst colleges and halls.


Scholarly Approach to Curation and Enrichment of Conference Lectures 

Name(s) of Researchers: Johan Geertsema (PI), Kiruthika Ragupathi

Project Duration: 2 years

This project aims to curate and enrich these videos to enhance their intelligibility and accessibility for a wider audience of faculty. This study aims to promote the scholarship of teaching and learning within and beyond NUS as we collaboratively curate and make available our underused stock of videos so they can become part of a new form of encyclopedia that celebrates the polycentricity and collaborative nature of knowledge construction.


Using student feedback to enhance teaching practices and policies 

Name(s) of Researchers: Kiruthika Ragupathi (PI), Johan Geertsema

Project Duration: 2 years

Student feedback for instructors (or student evaluation of teaching, SET) is widely used to make personnel decisions, yet its strength lies in the instructors’ systematic interpretation of data. SETs can provide reliable information on teacher characteristics and teaching effectiveness. However, it can be challenging for instructors to systematically engage in and use SET data to inform teaching development and improve quality of student learning. Insights from the study aim to:

  • support instructors in utilizing data to guide reflection, regularly reassess their teaching strategies, and improve their teaching over time;
  • align institutional policies and practices to support the strong developmental function of SET;
  • build a dynamic professional development culture.



Effects of explicit instruction on graduate teaching assistants’ use of collaborative learning scripts and academic mindset

Name(s) of Researchers: Mark Gan (PI), Johan Geertsema, Alan Soong, Jeanette Choy

Funding body (if applicable): MOE Tertiary Education Research Fund (TRF)

Project Duration: 1 year

Collaborative learning is widely recognized as an effective approach to engage students in peer-to-peer learning, but merely assigning students to groups does not mean that they will engage in meaningful discussions. Rather, successful student discourse requires the explicit use of collaborative scripts, usually in the form of question prompts with role assignments and structured activities, to scaffold group interactions that bring about deeper or more elaborative discussion. A key focus of this study is to find out whether graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) will be able to engage their students in collaborative learning during their tutorial classes after attending a two-day Teaching assistant programme (TAP). In particular, the effects of explicit instruction on GTAs’ use of collaborative learning scripts, and academic mindsets will be examined in this study. Findings from this study will help inform our understanding of how best to prepare GTAs to engage students in meaningful collaborative learning.

This study is designed to address the following research questions:
What is the effect of explicit instruction with modelling on graduate teaching assistants’ (GTAs) use of collaborative learning scripts and academic mindset?
How do GTAs implement collaborative learning scripts in their tutorial classrooms after explicit instruction?
Do collaborative learning scripts help students in the GTAs’ lessons improve their discussion during group activities?
What is the relationship between academic mindset and GTAs’ use of collaborative learning scripts?



Co-inquiry on academics’ conceptual change about teaching and learning

Name(s) of Researchers: Mark Gan (PI), Shin Dee

Project Duration: 1 year

Abstract: To be furnished on request



The effects of a faculty mentoring programme based on Community of Practice on early career academics’ teaching practices

Name(s) of Researchers: Adrian Lee (PI), Jeanette Choy

Project Duration: 2 years

Abstract: The overall aim of the study is to examine the impact of a new Faculty Mentoring Programme (FMP) based on Community of Practice (CoP) on early career academics’ (ECA) teaching practices, with a view to examine how a community mentoring process could support the internal and ongoing transformation of professional development for beginning academics. Early career academics in the experimental condition will be required to complete a year-long faculty mentored programme consisting of the following components: (a) Teaching Practicum; (b) formative peer and expert classroom observation process; (c) course portfolio including development of a teaching philosophy statement; and (d) available to meet as a group approximately every 2 months. To study the impact of the programme, an evaluation protocol based on Hall and Hord’s levels-of-use concept is adopted to identify how much and how well the Core concepts discussed during the Core component are implemented in classroom practice. We will also collate from multiple perspectives on instances of observed teaching from academic peer observers, students, and artefacts produced to provide insights on the effectiveness of the programme.

The main research questions are:

  1. What is the effect of being involved in a faculty mentoring programme within a structured form of Community of Practice (CoP) on early career academics (ECA) teaching attitudes and practices?
  2. What aspects of the programme support or hinder these changes?



A study of NUS faculty members’ approaches to designing a blended learning module

Name(s) of Researchers: Adrian Lee (PI), Jeanette Choy, Alan Soong

Project Duration: 1 year

This study aims to identify and develop effective ways to implement blended learning approaches within and across NUS’s diverse teaching disciplines. This will be achieved by describing and understanding the tacit beliefs that characterize current NUS practitioners, referred to as NUS Innovators, about their thinking and approaches in the design of blended learning for their modules.
By gathering the NUS Innovator community to meet and discuss their experiences, coupled with information obtained from existing literature, we will attempt to identify and make recommendations on best practice that could be incorporated into the implementation of blended learning by the upcoming crop of NUS practitioners, referred to as Early Adopters, who are interested in this new teaching approach.

The main research question for this study is “What are the effective ways to implement blended learning within and across NUS’s diverse disciplinary contexts?”

This study utilizes an evidence-based approach to identify and recommend best practice on effective ways to implement blended learning within and across NUS’s diverse disciplinary contexts. From these, the Centre for Development of Teaching and Learning (CDTL) will review and design a blended online course to support the new upcoming crop of NUS Early Adopters, to implement this new teaching approach. Findings may also be used to inform strategic priorities and inform continuing improvement processes.

* Project will be extended to examine the impact of the blended learning course offered by CDTL on NUS faculty members approach to designing a blended learning module.

Published works:
Song, A. S. K., Choy, J. L. F., and Lee, A. M. (2016). Building academics’ SoTL capacity through a course on blended learning. Paper presented at ASCILITE 2016, Adelaide, Australia.


Teaching practices at Universitas 21 institutions 

Name(s) of Researchers: Johan Geertsema (PI), Jeanette Choy

Project Duration: 6 months

The aim of this study is to provide summary data to both National University of Singapore (NUS) and Universitas 21 regarding the teaching staff practices, attitudes and perceptions. In addition, data will be analyzed to explore whether attitudes are aligned with teaching practices and this there is a relationship between practices and perceptions of teaching climate. This research is initiated by the University of British Columbia (UBC) to investigate teaching practices, attitudes, and perceptions of the teaching climate of instructional staff at U21 institutions. Findings may be used to inform strategic priorities, inform continual improvement processes, or as a baseline measure for institutional initiatives.


Assessing the impacts grade-free learning

Name(s) of Researchers: Chris McMorran (PI) and Kiruthika Ragupathi

Project Duration: 2 years

This study analyzes an alternate form of assessment, gradeless learning. This study theoretically and geographically contextualizes the recent implementation of a gradeless learning policy at NUS and is a perception study on the impact of the policy has students and teachers at NUS.

Published works:
Ragupathi, K. & McMorran, C. (2016). Freedom and Control in a Gradeless Learning environment. SRHE International Annual Research Conference 2016, New Port, United Kingdom, 7-9 December 2016.

McMorran, C., Ragupathi, K., and Luo, S. (2015). Assessment and learning without grades? Motivations and concerns with implementing gradeless learning in higher education. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education: 1-17. PDF


Investigating instructor intervention and student learning in online discussion forums

Name(s) of Researchers: Kan Min-Yen (PI), Kiruthika Ragupathi, Bernard Tan

Project Duration: 2 years

MOOCs primarily depend on virtual discussion forum to foster interaction among instructors and students for learning purposes. Instructors use virtual discussion forum to communicate about course materials and encourage exchange of ideas and opinions among students. The pedagogical rationale for virtual discussion forum is social constructivism, through which students derive new knowledge by integrating their prior experience with communication involving other students. The study focuses on how the virtual discussion forum in MOOCs can be managed so that instructors can maximize the effects of their interventions in terms of helping students learn.

Published works:

Muthu Kumar Chandrasekaran, Min-Yen Kan, Bernard C.Y. Tan and Kiruthika Ragupathi (2015). Towards Feasible Instructor Intervention in MOOC discussion forums. International Conference on Information Systems 2015 (ICIS 2015), Fort Worth, Texas from 13-16 December 2015.