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Developing Capacities for New Competencies: Use of problem-based innovation in Singapore


Developing Capacities for New Competencies: Use of problem-based innovation in Singapore Prof Dr. Tan, Oon Seng National Institute of Education, Singapore – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Developing Capacities for New Competencies: Use of problem-based innovation in Singapore

Developing Capacities for New CompetenciesUse
of problem-based innovation in Singapore
  • Prof Dr. Tan, Oon Seng
  • National Institute of Education, Singapore

  • The challenges of the 21st century
  • The call for new competencies
  • The role of education in developing the 21st
    century learner
  • Key focuses of education in the Singapore context
  • Problem-based learning as the missing piece in
    the puzzle
  • The Problem-based learning process
  • Five models of Problem-based learning
  • Useful approaches within the Problem-based
    learning paradigm
  • The role of Problem-based learning in education
  • Impact of Problem-based learning on learners
  • Conclusion

Challenges of the 21st century
  • The current age is an era of global pandemics,
    environmental disasters, terrorism, and complex
    political and socio-economic problems.
  • 21st century calls for a transformation of
  • Flexible thinking in new environments
  • Education today lacks effective use of inquiry
    and problem-solving approaches.
  • The 21st century worker needs to
  • think on his feet when confronted with an
    unfamiliar situation.
  • be able to adapt positively to rapidly changing
  • be competent to take on problems with an
    inquisitive mind.
  • constantly improve and innovate on processes and
  • creatively integrate information from the various
  • Education plays an important role in preparing
    citizens to acquire cognitive skills needed to
    function in new and changing environments.

The call for new competencies
  • Poll of US employers highlighted some key 21st
    century skills.
  • The ability to think outside the box
  • Creativity, innovativeness and the ability to
    think across disciplines
  • New-media/information literacy
  • The ability to manage, interpret, validate and
    use information
  • The ability to research, formulate ideas and
    defend their own views
  • Good people skills
  • Social awareness skills, self-awareness,
    self-management, communication skills
  • Critical thinking skills
  • The ability to evaluate the validity and
    reliability of information
  • The ability to reason intelligently and
  • A telescopic and helicopter worldview
  • Understanding the past and seeing the future
  • Rising above the micro and fragmentary and
    acquiring a bigger picture of things
  • Knowing how to learn
  • Ability to self-instruct and self-monitor
  • Ability to interact with multiple modes of
    learning and engage with creative people

Role of education in developing the 21st century
  • The 21st century is characterised by a
    knowledge-based economy.
  • Challenges the traditional notions of knowledge,
    skills and attitude transmission
  • To thrive, students need to be equipped with
    intelligence manifested in the ability to deal
    with new real-world problems
  • A different set of intelligences e.g. learning
    how to do things, ability to deal with novelty,
    capacity to adapt our interactions with the
  • Education in the KBE should
  • encourage learning throughout life
  • foster the transfer of learning across contexts
    and disciplines
  • allow the individual to assume greater
    responsibility for ones learning
  • teach the learner how to learn from multiple
    sources and resources
  • engage the learner to learn collaboratively
  • train the learner to cope with change and solve

Key focuses of education in the Singapore context
  • A vision to turn Singapore into a place for
    people to develop their potential through
    continuous learning
  • Mindset changes towards learning are necessary
  • Learners need to assume personal responsibility
    for ones own learning
  • Teachers need to believe that innovation in
    education is necessary
  • Ministry of Education, Singapore identified core
    knowledge and skill-sets for 21st century living
    as new key focuses for education
  • Knowledge of world issues and current affairs
  • Literacy (numerical, linguistic, cultural,
    scientific and technological domains)
  • Life-long learning skills
  • Ability to manage ambiguity, complexity and
  • Ability to communicate new ideas

Problem-based learning is the missing piece in
the puzzle
  • Problem-based learning (PBL) curriculum is an
    ideal paradigm for developing the 21st century
  • Problem presented ? Further exploration ? Achieve
    sufficient understanding
  • Problem can take on various forms.
  • Problem is unstructured and open-ended in nature.
  • Problem to challenge students current knowledge,
    attitudes and competencies
  • Serves as an anchor for opportunities to be
  • PBL offers opportunities to exercise and develop
  • Creative ability is important the process which
    gives rise to a change in perception
  • Valued as an essential capability in an age of
    information accessibility, globalization
  • Essential trait for generating new

Problem-based learning is the missing piece in
the puzzle
  • Collaborative knowledge-building and
    self-directed learning environment
  • Group members identify information needed and
    share responsibilities in information searches.
  • Information then organized into a meaningful
    conceptual framework
  • Learner relies on various sources (internet,
    media, library, etc) for self-directed study.
  • PBL is a learner-centred approach
  • PBL pedagogy is based on constructivism
  • Learners develop the ability to deal with novelty
    and complexity.
  • Problem will call for multiple perspectives?
    takes into account knowledge from different
    subjects and disciplines
  • Learners assume major responsibility in
    information and knowledge acquisition.
  • Learners inquiry and problem-solving skills
    developed in the process

The PBL process
  • Problem presented to students
  • Problem may be in the form of a case study
    analysis, research paper finding, videotape
    recording etc
  • Students pose learning issues throughout the
    discussions to delineate aspects of the problem
    they cannot understand.
  • Learning issues recorded and used to generate and
    focus discussions
  • Group to decide which questions will be addressed
    by the whole group/handled by individuals
  • Process develops into one with a broad overview
    encompassing analytical thinking, generative and
    divergent thinking.
  • Facilitators to scaffold to enable conceptual
    clarification, knowledge building, argumentation
    and evaluation and the evolution of new
  • Students come together to synthesize previous
    learning issues with/into new knowledge? learning
    as an ongoing process

Five models of PBL (differentiated by the role
of learners in process of knowledge construction)
  • (1) PBL for epistemologocal competence
  • PBL as a means of helping students to acquire
    required curriculum content and to become
    competent in applying the knowledge to solve
  • (2) PBL for professional action
  • Students to be empowered with capabilities and
    mechanisms to apply the ability to other kinds of
    problem scenarios and situations within given
  • Important to integrate this model with skills
    concepts, cognitive content and professional
  • (3) PBL for interdisciplinary understanding
  • Learning is knowing and understanding knowledge
    from the different disciplines, and recognizing
    the relationship between them.

Five models of PBL (differentiated by the role
of learners in process of knowledge construction)
  • (4) PBL for transdisciplinary learning
  • PBL group used as a platform to examine personal
    and pedagogical framework
  • Students to develop an overview of the framework
    by adopting a critical position towards
    knowledge, themselves and their peers.
  • (5) PBL for critical contestability
  • Students required to examine underlying
    structures and belief systems implicit within a
  • Students involved in knowledge construction?
    build upon and integrate previously learned
    knowledge and skills with current material

Useful approaches within PBL paradigm
Three levels in terms of increasing authenticity,
complexity, uncertainty and student self-direction
  • Level 1 Academic Challenge
  • Student work structured as a problem arising
    directly from an area of study? develop in
    students the capacity for active learning
  • Alex is a school badminton player. He is 14 and
    his coach has mentioned to him about his
    potential to be selected for the national team.
    Apart from rigorous training, Alex is wondering
    if nutrition would help increase his chances. One
    day he walked into a store selling nutritional
    supplements in a shopping center. The salesperson
    told him that what he needed was more muscle
    without gaining a lot of weight. Alex ended up
    buying a jar of creatine tablets that cost 60
    and various other supplements costing 80. Alex
    learned subsequently that creatine comprises
    amino acids and is taken by many athletes. A
    family member, however, told him that there are
    side effects and that got him worried. Many
    athletes are in situations like Alexs. You and
    your group have been selected as young
    scientists for a project on sports nutrition.
    Your team has been tasked to come up with a
    report and presentation to advise school
    sportsmen/women on nutrition.

Useful approaches within PBL paradigm
Three levels in terms of increasing authenticity,
complexity, uncertainty and student self-direction
  • Level 2 Scenario Challenge
  • Reality-based or fictional scenario used
  • Students casted into real-life roles and asked to
    perform roles? skills and knowledge developed
    through the process
  • Incorporates existing curricular material in the
  • A venture capitalist wants to invest in research
    on ornamental plants. He is particularly
    interested in cross-breeding that would produce
    new flowering plants of multiple forms and colors
    with characteristics of high rates of flower
    production, stem resilience, etc. Together with a
    team of researchers, you are involved in
    investigating the composition of the ultimate
    made-to-order multi-vitamin, multi-mineral pill,
    which is customized according to DNA profiles.
    How would you go about doing that?

Useful approaches within PBL paradigm
Three levels in terms of increasing authenticity,
complexity, uncertainty and student self-direction
  • Level 3 Real-life problem
  • An actual problem in need of real solutions by
    real people or organizations
  • As the geriatric population in Singapore
    increases, there is a growing need for services
    to help make the lives of the elderly easier and
    more rewarding. Unfortunately, there is
    inadequate planning rendered for aid to the
    elderly. The challenge is to plan, prepare and
    implement a way for students of your age to
    assist the elderly in this community. How could
    we get from here to the delivery of the
  • Real nature of problem involves students
    directly and deeply in exploration of study.
  • Students take action on issues and exert tangible
    impact in their own communities ? Such problems
    can present as powerful learning experiences

Role of PBL in education reform
  • Education reform needs to look into developing
    the intelligences in learners.
  • Traditional education programmes have an
    over-preoccupation with content.
  • Education would fail if institutions continue to
    teach only content to students ? content
    knowledge becomes obsolete or irrelevant.
  • Efficacy of PBL paradigm supported by various
  • In trying to relate theory to practice, students
  • developed a greater ability to retain knowledge
    better and apply it more appropriately.
  • displayed increased motivation.
  • were able to engage in deep thinking.
  • Changing emphasis of education needed to foster
    development of a critical mass of individuals
    with greater creativity and higher levels of
    thinking skills
  • Develop skills of fluency, flexibility,
    originality and elaboration

Role of PBL in education reform
  • Internet revolution hastens need for curriculum
    content, delivery and assessment
  • The authority of teachers as knowledge experts
  • In this revolution, educators to assume new roles
    ? designers of the learning environment imparter
    of transferable skills
  • PBL approach is the ideal reinvention for
    education in the knowledge-based era.
  • Real-life problems serve as more ideal anchors
    to train students how to learn.
  • Fits in the call for the new era which calls for
    learners to become active problem solvers and
    teachers to be mediating coaches
  • Individuals will be prepared with new
  • Also students are allowed to take greater
    ownership of their learning
  • Kick-start the mindset change of the present and
    future generations

Impact of PBL on learners
  • Engages the learner holistically
  • Increases the motivation of learners ?
    self-directed learning
  • Active participation in problem-solving process ?
    learners acquire knowledge and problem solving
  • Students take on more responsibility for their
    learning as they delve deeper into issues of
  • Raises the learners sense of self-awareness
  • Learners encouraged to assemble their own body of
    knowledge and ideas
  • Collaborative environment leads to clarification
    of ones values, abilities, interests and goals ?
    increased self-awareness
  • Enhances the social dimension of individuals
  • Ready forum for exchange of ideas and
    perspectives ? trust ? strengthening of
    interpersonal relationships

Impact of PBL on learners
  • Promotes higher-order thinking
  • Learners acquire domain-relevant skills,
    creativity-relevant skills in the process of
    assessing the credibility and validity of
    information retrieved
  • The value of questions in discovering the problem
  • Questions play a vital role in evoking
    intellectual curiosity.
  • The role of constructivism to construct new
    cognitive structures
  • Learner requires to make connections to see
    different perspectives.
  • Teachers assist by scaffolding learners or by
    providing structure in knowledge construction.
  • Encourages process of learning how to learn
  • Students requires to identify existing gaps in
    their knowledge ? encourages metacognition and
    self-regulated learning
  • Fosters new and different learning experiences
  • Students link new knowledge to past through
    reflections? new meanings derived

Impact of PBL on learners
  • Maintains authenticity and relevance of learning
    to the real-world
  • Real-life problem gets rid of queries about the
    irrelevance of information (traditional
    curriculum) ? students develop a tolerance for
    complexity of real-life situations and refined
    skills needed to solve real-life problems.
  • Enhances connectivity
  • Develops flexibility and helicopter views via
    cognitive strategies
  • By linking with the following
  • Prior knowledge, prior experiences, real-world
    context, theories, other peoples perceptions,
    new facts and ideas
  • Fosters collaborative learning, which
  • stimulates thinking through dialogue (mutual
    exploration, meaning-making and feedback)
  • necessitates an atmosphere of critical openness
    between group members (for collaborative learning
    to take place)

  • Educational system in Singapore is one that is
    continually adapting with the times
  • As of now Broad-based and holistic curriculum ?
    diversity within the curriculum structure created
  • Our Asian roots calls for education as a means
    nurturing the whole child, in terms of his/her
    moral, intellectual, social and aesthetic
  • Our physical location makes education also our
    key to survival.
  • Education needs to keep up with the times ? PBL
    is the best paradigm for the new era
  • Addresses the challenges of the 21st century
    develops learners competency in dealing with
    information/meaningful application of knowledge
    and skills
  • Brings out the best in students building
    learning experiences on the interdependent
    attributes of meaningful learning
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