NIE launches new research centre to study science of learning

The Science of Learning in Education Centre will translate research into pedagogical designs that can work for all students.
The Science of Learning in Education Centre will translate research into pedagogical designs that can work for all students.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO
The experimental classroom features a two-way mirror along an observation deck.
The experimental classroom features a two-way mirror along an observation deck.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO
A new masters programme, the Master of Science (Science of Learning), was also launched.
A new masters programme, the Master of Science (Science of Learning), was also launched.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - A research centre that aims to develop effective learning methods and tools for students based on research in neuroscience and other disciplines has opened at the National Institute of Education (NIE).

The Science of Learning in Education Centre (Solec) will combine the understandings of education and sciences, and translate research into pedagogical designs that can work for all students, especially those with learning difficulties.

Solec brings together research expertise from several disciplines, including neuroscience, cognitive science, psychology, technology and education, across both "hard" and "soft" sciences, NIE said on Wednesday (March 24).

It added that research in each of these disciplines will contribute to a deeper understanding of learning processes and a better understanding of ways to support successful school learning.

The research centre at NIE in Nanyang Technological University (NTU) comprises two experimental rooms and one classroom.

The experimental rooms are where quantitative data is collected using various neuro-physiological tools, such as a functional near-infrared spectroscopy that can assess blood oxygen levels in the brain when it is engaged in activities such as reading, writing and numeracy. There are also physiological tools like eye trackers.

The experimental classroom features a two-way mirror along an observation deck, so that learning processes can be observed and studied under natural conditions.

Professor David Hung, centre director of Solec, said: "We now have the opportunity to understand and optimise the human learning capacity of all our students, especially those with learning difficulties."

"This human learning capacity is important to enable all our students to be lifelong learners," added Prof Hung, who is also NIE's dean of education research.

NIE director Christine Goh said the centre is part of the institute's mission of "inspiring learning, transforming teaching and advancing research".

"Apart from putting in equipment that we can use for the experiments and studies that we have, we hope Solec will create a professional research space for researchers to engage in dialogue and to come together to think about projects that we could do together in order to advance research."


The experimental rooms are where quantitative data is collected using various neuro-physiological tools. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

A new masters programme was also launched on Wednesday.

The Master of Science (Science of Learning) will enable students to acquire a foundation in the science of learning and development, and learn how advancements in neuroscience, cognitive science and technologies can impact learning.

The programme also offers a pathway for professionals who seek graduate micro-credentials, through modular courses that are "stackable" towards the NTU MiniMasters in Mind, Brain and Education.

Academic units will be transferable to the full master's programme, subject to prevailing requirements.

The first intake starts in January next year (2022). The application period is from May 10 to July 5 this year, with only one admission per year.