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    Nurturing positivity: A positive psychology intervention to enhance well-being, engagement, and achievement among at-risk students
    (Office of Education Research, National Institute of Education, Singapore, 2020) ;
    King, Ronnel B.
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    ; ;
    Tan, Jennifer Pei-Ling
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    Lam, Rachel
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    Nur Qamarina Ilham
    This research had a two-fold objective. The first objective was to develop an intervention programme that was grounded on positive psychology and tailored for academically at-risk students, that is, students who, by and large, achieved lower aggregate scores than the cohort mean in the national test given at the end of primary education. The second objective was to evaluate the effectiveness of each of the components of the intervention programme in terms of improving positive emotions, well-being, and academic outcomes of academically at-risk students.
    Three positive psychology interventions (PPIs) were developed to form the intervention programme. Each PPI comprised five core activities, with a wrap-up session that was conducted after the core activities. The Gratitude PPI comprised the following activities: Gratitude Collage, Counting Blessings, Mental Subtraction, Facing Challenges with Gratitude, and Gratitude Card. The Hope PPI featured activities such as Goal Setting and Goal Mapping, Journaling, Best Possible Self, Savouring Success, and Sharing Formula for Success. The Strengths PPI involved activities such as Identification of Top Strengths, Journaling about Top Strengths, Identification of Signature Strengths, Journaling about Signature Strengths and then Create a Superhero.
    The evaluation of the effectiveness of the PPIs involved six sub-studies, with two sub-studies tied to each PPI. For each PPI, the first sub-study, which utilised a quasi-experimental design, served as the first trial to test the impact of the PPI and identify areas for improvement; the second sub-study utilized a split-plot experimental design (i.e., each participating class was randomly split into group A and B and all students in group A formed the intervention group while all students in Group B formed the control group). The six sub-studies involved 305 academically at-risk students.
    The results of four sub-studies support the potential of two (i.e., Hope and Gratitude PPIs) out three PPIs in cultivating positive emotions and well-being, and enhancing adaptive motivation and learning strategies. In terms of promoting students’ well-being, the effect of the Gratitude PPI was found to be more consistent and stronger than that of the Hope PPI. Specifically, the Gratitude PPI has generated greater increase in students’ life satisfaction and reduction in depressive symptoms than the control activities did. The Hope PPI seems to be more effective in terms of preventing the worsening of the students’ self-reported depressive symptoms, rather than directly reducing them. Concerning academic achievement, the effects of the PPIs were generally weak.
    All the PPIs did not generate a significant effect on academic engagement; however, when it comes to academic motivation, results associated with one PPI was promising. In particular, the Hope PPI was found to have beneficial effects in terms of preventing the decline in students’ intrinsic motivation.
    The general results of the present investigation also point to the effectiveness of the Hope PPI, but not the other two PPIs, in increasing students’ use of deep learning and elaboration strategies. The Hope PPI was found to be more effective than the usual CCE activities in enhancing the students’ use of these adaptive learning strategies. The effects of the Hope PPI on these outcomes were not significantly mediated by the students’ academic hope (i.e., positive expectations to achieve school goals). These results suggest that the Hope PPI may operate directly, rather than indirectly through enhancing academic hope levels, in improving adaptive school outcomes.
    The benefits that can be derived from the PPIs appear to be stronger and more amenable to measurement when a considerable period has passed after the students’ exposure to PPIs or after booster sessions were conducted. These results suggest that some effects of the PPIs may take a while to manifest and that state-like measures may be more appropriate in capturing the effects of such PPIs accurately.
    Overall, the results of the six sub-studies have shown the potential benefits of PPIs, particularly the Hope and Gratitude PPIs, in enhancing adaptive school and well-being outcomes for academically at-risk students in Singapore. The Gratitude PPI appears to have relatively stronger effects on well-being while the Hope PPI seems to be more effective in promoting the use of productive learning strategies and in preventing the decline in intrinsic motivation to study. Educators and interventionists may select the PPIs that suit the needs and profiles of their subjects, or implement the PPIs in combination and in longer duration to generate optimal impact.
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    A two-tiered approach to supporting pupils with reading difficulties in P3 mainstream classrooms
    (Office of Education Research, National Institute of Education, Singapore, 2020) ; ;
    Lyna
    This study seeks to address the problem of providing additional support to pupils with reading difficulties by raising teacher competence in providing high quality reading instruction so that teachers can address the needs of struggling readers as early as possible. If classroom teachers assume active responsibility for delivering reading instruction consistently prior to referring pupils for psycho-educational assessment, struggling readers can be helped before their difficulties impede their learning.
    Results of a pilot study conducted in 2013 by the principal investigator of the current proposed study using a Start-Up Grant (SUG) provide further insights into the current situation in school. A peer tutoring programme was modified from the Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies (PALS) programme (Fuchs, Fuchs, Mathes, & Simmons, 1997 ) based on feedback from teachers. It was implemented in three classes using STELLAR (or Strategies for English Language Learning and Reading) materials in a pilot school. Findings from the study suggested that peer tutoring generally benefitted pupils who were able to read fairly independently. However, for pupils whose reading ability was significantly below that of their peers, another tier of support was needed. Based on the results of SUG study, a two-tiered approach was proposed as a framework to support pupils with reading difficulties. What is unique about the current study compared to other learning support programme available in schools in Singapore is the application of academic problem solving. The LSP and Reading Remediation Programme use a standard protocol approach. While the standard protocol approach is generally effective, the data-based decision making component of the academic problem solving allows teachers to provide interventions which are targeted to address individual students’ reading difficulties based on their progress monitoring data. Using academic problem solving, we were able to use progress monitoring data to determine students’ reading difficulties and the extent to which they were responding to interventions. Interventions which were targeted to address specific reading difficulties were then delivered and monitored.
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  • Publication
    Open Access
    Response and non-response to intervention for reading difficulties: What role do cognitive correlates play?
    (2023) ; ;
    Malikka Begum Habib Mohamed
    Within the field of learning disabilities many intervention studies find that treatment resisters remain despite gains in our understanding of best practices and effective treatment for reading development and disability. In this study we examine good vs. poor responders in an intervention study with 147 early primary grade students in a learning support programme. Students were assessed for reading accuracy and fluency after completion of a tablet-based reading intervention, and classified as responders vs. non-responders based on criterion referenced scores for word reading accuracy and fluency. Differences between the two groups were evaluated for the rate of growth on literacy measures over the intervention phase, their cognitive attributes at pre-intervention, and their in-lesson performance on the tablet-based intervention activities. Findings show the responder group had initial superior performance on decoding and spelling measures, as well as broad abilities related to nonverbal reasoning, working memory, phonological awareness and rapid symbol naming. Further, the gap in performance on decoding and spelling measures increased over time, with the non-responder group showing some improvement in these skills, but to a significantly smaller degree than the responder group. Different approaches to phonics intervention in the study resulted in the same proportion of non-responders. Further, children’s confusions with specific sound-symbol associations over the course of the interventions suggest potential challenges that teachers may highlight.
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  • Publication
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    Using pedagogical principles to design a MOOC for parents and educators
    Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have gained attention because they offer the prospect of mass-scale, globally accessible, high-quality education. The coronavirus pandemic has led to a surge of interest in MOOC as learning across the globe had to be moved online. Yet, designing online courses intended for a wide audience is challenging. To facilitate the design of good online courses, it is imperative to have in place a set of principles that is able to guide the creation and presentation of course content. Extant in the literature are design principles for the use of technologies in education. However, these principles have not been extensively applied to actual MOOC development and design. Given the challenges involved in designing MOOCs, establishing a set of design principles is critical for improving learner outcomes. This chapter will examine the rise of MOOCs as well as their importance and benefits. It will describe the different types of MOOCs. Various educational psychology theories and pedagogical principles that can be applied to the development of MOOCs will be discussed. The chapter will illustrate some of these pedagogical principles and technical aspects by means of a case study of a MOOC that was designed for parents and educators.
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  • Publication
    Open Access
    Navigating challenges during COVID-19 pandemic: Experiences and coping strategies of Singapore students
    (2022) ; ; ;
    Chua, Jenny
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    Nur Qamarina Ilham
    Objectives This study explores the experiences and coping strategies of secondary students as they engaged in learning activities during the pandemic. It investigated the sources of student stress during the pandemic, and the extent to which the pandemic influenced the stress that they usually experience. Method Semi-structured interviews were used to elicit details of the students’ lived experiences as they navigated learning via an online platform, their coping strategies in managing stress. Results With regards to academic experiences, many students found online learning challenging and ineffective and were concerned about their examinations. Under social experiences, many students shared that they missed social and recreational activities during the “circuit breaker”. However, some students demonstrated resilience and were able to see the benefits of going through the pandemic. More students reported academic-related than social-related stress. The students coped with stress in three ways: (1) disengagement, (2) taking active steps and (3) turning to others. Conclusion Academic concerns were a major source of distress among adolescents. Insights that were drawn from the results of the study can be utilized to support students in managing stress and mitigate its adverse effects on student learning and functioning. KEY POINTS What is already known about this topic: (1) The pandemic has a more serious impact on adolescents’ mental health and emotional well-being and many adolescents experience anxiety during this period. (2) Positive reappraisal, strengths use and emotional processing are some strategies used by adolescents to cope with stress during the pandemic. What this topic adds: (1) Although many students found online learning stressful and ineffective, some students in this study had meaningful and positive experiences during the period when they had online lessons at home. (2) Despite the challenges, some students demonstrated resilience and were even able to see the benefits arising from going through the pandemic. Others appreciated spending more time with their family members. (3) Adolescents coped with stress experienced during the pandemic in three ways: (1) disengagement, (2) taking active steps and (3) turning to others.
    WOS© Citations 2Scopus© Citations 3  455  136
  • Publication
    Open Access
    Fostering social cohesion and cultural sustainability: Character and citizenship education in Singapore
    (2014)
    Tan, Charlene
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    This article critically discusses the Singapore state’s endeavor to balance social cohesion and cultural sustainability through the Character and Citizenship Education (CCE) curriculum. This article points out that underpinning the CCE syllabus are the state ideologies of communitarianism and multiracialism. It is argued that the ideology of communitarianism is compatible with and finds support from Confucius’s emphasis on the concept of harmony (he) and his advocacy of values inculcation that progresses from the family to the community and the rest of the world. The article further argues that a key challenge in balancing social cohesion with cultural sustainability in Singapore is to guard against essentializing and stereotyping the various cultural groups through the surface culture approach.
    Scopus© Citations 37  380  3277
  • Publication
    Metadata only
    Future orientation and resilience of academically at-risk students in Singapore
    (Springer, 2023) ;
    Nur Qamarina Ilham
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    Future orientation can serve as an internal protective factor that has been reported to influence academic achievement and self-regulated learning, but limited studies on this topic have been conducted with students who are at risk of continued low performance, or “academically at-risk” students. The objective of this study was to explore and compare the future orientation of academically at-risk students who developed moderate to high resilience (i.e., “resilient”) with that of their peers who developed a lower level of resilience (i.e., “less resilient”). Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 16 resilient and 14 less resilient students. The results of the study suggest that resilient students tend to have clearer academic goals and career plans compared to their less resilient peers. Goal commitment and focused goals were also other features that distinguished academically resilient students from their less resilient counterparts. Furthermore, students who were found to develop a higher level of resilience indicated clearer mental models of their possible futures and more concrete strategies and plans on how to achieve their goals. A positive attitude toward failure or challenges was also associated with these students. Implications for research and practice are discussed.
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  • Publication
    Open Access
    Nurturing grateful and connected twenty-first century learners: Development and evaluation of a socially oriented gratitude intervention
    (2017) ;
    King, Ronnel B.
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    Tan, Jennifer Pei-Ling
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    Low, Michelle
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    ;
    This study aimed to develop and examine the effects of a socially oriented gratitude intervention (SOGI) on secondary students’ gratitude level and interpersonal relationships. To these ends, we used a quasi-experimental research design: The experimental group (n=46) participated in the two-week intervention during a class subject focusing on character and citizenship education (CCE) while the wait-list control group (n=57) went on with regular CCE activities. All participants completed a questionnaire a week before and a month after the implementation of the SOGI and control activities. The changes in relatedness scores were statistically significant in relation to parents and peers, but not in relation to teachers. In particular, the experimental group generally maintained the quality of their relationship with their parents and peers while the control group reported a decline in these relationship domains. The change in gratitude levels did not differ significantly between the experimental group and control group, but the effect size associated with the mean gratitude change of the experimental group was found to be larger than that of the control group and comparable to what is commonly reported in other published gratitude intervention studies. The students’ feedback reveals the social, cognitive and affective benefits of the SOGI.
    WOS© Citations 11  386  369Scopus© Citations 10
  • Publication
    Open Access
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