Special Programme in Science (SPS)

SPS20 Symposium: Inculcating Multidisciplinary Thinking in 21st Century Learners

The Special Programme in Science was established in 1996 as the Faculty of Science’s premier academic programme to nurture aspirant scientists toward the growing R&D demands of the 21st-century knowledge-based economy. SPS achieves this through its uniquely-designed Integrated Science Curriculum. Since the establishment of SPS 20 years ago, various other multidisciplinary programmes, such as University Scholar Programme, Engineering Science Programme, Bachelor of Environmental Science, Yale-NUS, as well as the residential colleges, have been introduced into NUS ecosystem. Along with their inception, novel curriculum, teaching, and learning method have also been introduced.

SPS thus organized a half-a-day symposium on 22 September at Lee Kong Chian Auditorium, featuring lecturers from SPS, Tembusu College, College of Alice and Peter Tan, and Ridge View Residential College, to share their best teaching techniques, pedagogical insights, and unique instructional design. The is graced by one of the founding fathers of SPS, NUS Provost Prof. Tan Eng Chye as guest-of-honor. Attended by 76 academic staff from faculties, schools, residential colleges and Center For Development of Teaching and Learning, this symposium indeed served as a get-together session for educators to learn from each other’s experience and best practices in teaching multidisciplinary content to students of diverse backgrounds. The symposium is open to all NUS academic staff, and it will particularly benefit those who are teaching multidisciplinary courses in special programmes or residential colleges.

The first speaker at the symposium was Dr. Alberto Corrias, who is a senior lecturer in the department of Biomedical Engineering at NUS and a fellow of the college of Alice and Peter Tan. Alberto shared his experience teaching junior seminar module on topics related to science and engineering, focusing on the various pedagogies and classroom activities involved in this seminar-style module. The second speaker was Dr. Catalijne Coopmans, who is a Fellow and Director of Studies at the College. Catalijne is responsible for to foster an environment and educational programme that provides maximum opportunity for critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and crossing boundaries between different domains of knowledge and expertise. Thus in her talk, she provided a review of the pedagogical strengths and possibilities associated with teaching science, technology, and society at Tembusu College. The third speaker was Mr. Sivasothi, a lecturer at the Department of Biological Sciences and the Director of Studies in the Ridge View Residential College. In his talk, Siva focused on how RVRC integrate its three core pillars, namely sustainability, professional and academic communication, and workplace readiness into a truly integrated programme against the dynamic landscape of the university. The last presentation of the day featured Dr. Lim Zhi Han, who is a lecturer in the Department of Mathematics and Special Programme in Science. Zhi Han shared how he made use of demonstration, research equipment, computation and visualization software, and student presentation to stimulate active and collaborative learning in the Active Learning Room setting.

The symposium closed with an invitation to all special programmes in NUS to collaborate. There are definitely differences in what each programme could offer to the students, but these programmes also share similarity; we are inculcating thinking and learning across the boundary of conventional disciplines. Besides, there are many SPS students who are also residents in the Colleges and USP.

Andreas Dewanto gave a welcome address to the symposium participants

NUS Provost, Prof. tang Eng Chye, gave his keynote address as Guest of Honor

Happy faces of the symposium organizers. From left to right: Zhi Han, Kasie, Yih-Cherng, Linda, Andreas, and Chammika

SPS student talking, Yun Ting, was talking to symposium participants about her education experience in SPS.