The nation of Singapore has been implementing "Project Work" since the year 2000. By last year, all primary and secondary schools were to have implmented Project Work, or PW, in at least one level.
[from the Singapore Ministry of Education]
PW is an integrated learning experience that encourages students to break away from the compartmentalisation of the different disciplines. It aims to provide students with opportunities to explore the inter-relationships and inter-connectedness of subject-specific knowledge. The objectives of PW are to allow students to:
- Apply creative and critical thinking skills
- Improve communication skills (both oral and written)
- Foster collaborative learning skills
- Develop self-directed inquiry and life-long learning skills
There are 4 domains and the learning outcomes for each of the domains are shown in the table at http://www.moe.gov.sg/projectwork/#image.
PW has been implemented in schools since 2000.
At the primary and secondary levels, it is recommended that PW be implemented at Primary 3, Primary 4 and/or Primary 5, and at Secondary 1, Secondary 2 and/or Secondary 3. By 2002, all primary and secondary schools are expected to implement PW at at least one level.
At the pre-university level, PW is implemented at JC1 and CI2. JC1 and CI2 students in 2003 will sit for the PW national examination, and the result obtained will count towards entry into local universities from 2005 onwards.
[Letter from John Yeo, Curriculum Planning Officer/ Process Skills, Curriculum Planning and Development Division, Singapore Ministry of Education, April 2007.]
Project Work in Singapore schools is being carried in Primary and Secondary schools in Singapore as a non-examinable subject, although it is graded and often included in students' end of year report. Schools have the autonomy to choose their approach thus different schools uses portfolio-based assessment, or pedagogies that infuses Multiple Intelligence, or Project / problem based learning.
At Pre-University level, it is an examinable subject important for university-entry criteria.
Besides these 3 levels, there is greater autonomy for the Polytechnics (tertiary edu) to decide how best to implement project work. Problem-based learning is done at a systemic level in Republic Polytechnic. An example of how the "1-day 1-problem process" structure in Republic Poly is as per follows:
08.30 09.30: Problem Trigger and Statement
09.30 10.30: Breakout
10.30 11.30: Meeting & Facilitator Assessment
11.30 14.00: Breakout
14.00 16.00: Presentations
Another polytechnic that is a strong advocator of PBL is Temasek Polytechnic. They have a specialised centre for PBL (Centre of Excellence in Learning Academy). I am still trying to contact them to get more information, especially on their Communities of Practices.
Will keep you updated with any new developments for PBL in Singapore schools.
Curriculum Planning Officer/ Process Skills, Curriculum Planning and Development Division Tel: +65 6879 6683 Fax: +65 6776 5896
Ministry of Education 1 North Buona Vista Drive, Singapore 138675 http://www.moe.gov.sg
Integrity the Foundation People our Focus Learning our Passion Excellence our Pursuit
Dr. Christopher Y. Tan is a lecturer at the University of South Australia and Visiting Lecturer at the University of Hong Kong. Chris is playing a big role in advancing project work and ICT in Singapore, and also in Hong Kong, China, and Australia. Chris Tan was one of the keynote speakers at at Alan November's Building Learning Communities 2005 conference in Boston.
Chris Tan leads three significant projects:
- Singapore: The Student-Centered Learning in the context of Project Work: A Value-Added Research Study
- Beijing, Hong Kong, and UK: 3-I Project learning: Learning Ecology for Schools in the 21st Century
- Knowledge Community. Click here for the July, 2005, issue of the Knowledge Community Newsletter (Word file).
Key Concepts and Practices for the 3-I Project include:
- Knowledge/Project building with world-class ICT practices.
- Interdisciplinary learning culture & higher-order thinking skills
- Constructive learning community among teachers, pupils and parents.
- Attitudes, value & world vision change through international collaboration.
- School leadership development through international collaboration.
Also at the Building Learning Communities 2005 conference were Tamil Selvam Charleston and Mohamed Paruk Kothari. Charleston is head of the IT Department and Mohammed is head of Mathematics at Shuqun Primary School. They delivered an excellent presentation, "Learning Communities in a Singapore Primary School: Shuqun Primary School", on the advanced thinking and practices of Singapore educators.
Singapore may be doing more than any other country to advance 21st Century Skills through project work and technology (ICT). "Singaporean educators are finding that technology is useful in fostering more self-directed learning, a shift away from the traditional "learn and drill" culture of that Asian nations schools. " writes Education Week reporter Rhea R. Borja, in "Singapores Digital Path", Technology Counts 2004, Education Week, May 6, 2004 (Registration may be required). Singapore's catchphrase for education is "Thinking Schools, Learning Nation".
Borja quotes Tharman Shanmugaratnam, the then-senior minister of state for trade, industry and education, from a July 2002 speech: "One of the key adjustments under way is in the way we educate our young so as to develop in them a willingness to keep learning, and an ability to experiment, innovate, and take risks, Our ability to create and innovate will be Singapores most important asset in [the] future."
6. Video of PBL in Singapore: "Student-Centered Learning in the Context of Project Work"
Headed by group of researchers from Singapore National Institute of Education, 8 Secondary schools in Singapore conducted inter-school project works using student-centered approach with a web-based platform for communication. Posted on youtube by the Buck Institute for Education.