Academic Profile : Faculty

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Prof Tan Oon Seng
Dean, Special Projects and Centre Director, Singapore Centre for Character & Citizenship Education
Professor, National Institute of Education - Psychology and Child & Human Development
Professor Tan Oon Seng is Dean of Special Projects and Centre Director, Singapore Centre for Character and Citizenship Education at the National Institute of Education (NIE), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Prof Tan has contributed at various levels of leadership where he pioneered new initiatives throughout his service to education.

Prof Tan was previously Director of NIE (2014-2018) where he played a significant role in enhancing teacher education and revitalising NIE’s training programmes to raise the image and professionalism of teachers. His many contributions included helping to initiate the Teaching Scholars Programme and refining the Post-Graduate Diploma in Education programme for aspiring teachers; enhancing teaching practices and international practicum opportunities for NIE student-teachers; and spearheading technology-enhanced learning and design-thinking infrastructural improvements. As Director of NIE, he also brought about leadership development and renewal across both academia and administration at NIE. Prof Tan advocated the idea of highly research-literate teachers in Singapore empowered and confident to improve pedagogical practices through evidenced-based research. His leadership in NIE’s education research proposal at that time helped secure a 25% increase in funding for educational research from the Singapore government for the subsequent five years (totalling S$127 million for FY2018-2022). Prof Tan also founded the NIE Visitor Learning Centre (a state-of-the-art interactive learning centre capturing his vision of building legacy, people and future) which is now an iconic showcase for NIE.

Since stepping down from NIE directorship in 2018 he has taken on the role of Director of the Centre for Research in Child Development (CRCD). Over the last 5 years his advocacy and leadership helped grow the center’s impact in terms of scholarship, grantsmanship and contribution to the early childhood sector in policy and practice. His mentorship and development of CRCD’s staff helped the staff secure some S$80 million of grants under his leadership of the centre. The accomplishments were well attested to by the independent review of the International Advisory Panel (IAP) comprising international renowned scientists and leaders of early childhood research.

Prof Tan was conferred the Nanyang Distinguished Alumni Award in 2022 – “the highest honour that Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, bestows on its alumni who have achieved regional or international distinction in their chosen fields and have brought honour to the University”. Prof Tan was recognized for his lifelong contribution to education and teacher education.

Prof Tan was a Chen Yidan distinguished Visiting Global Fellow of Harvard University Graduate School of Education in 2019 (during his sabbatical). The distinguished visiting fellowship at Harvard was awarded in recognition of his influence and impact on teacher policies internationally. Prof Tan was also elected Fellow of the International Academy of Education in 2019 alongside many luminaries of education.

Prof Tan was a winner of The Enterprise Challenge (TEC) Innovator Award from the Prime Minister’s Office of Singapore for co-pioneering a project on Innovation for the Knowledge-based Economy. He was conferred the Public Administration Medal (Silver) by the President of Singapore for his administrative leadership in 2014. He also received the Education Service Award from the Ministry of Education in 2016.

Professor Tan was Dean of Teacher Education at NIE from 2008 to 2013. Prof Tan is well-known for his Teacher Education 21 model that he spearheaded in 2012 that has transformed teacher education and professional development in Singapore and internationally. He led the Singapore team for the Global Education Innovation Initiative (GEII) helmed by the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He was also convener of the World Educational Research Association (WERA) International Research Network on Teacher Education. Professor Tan was President of the Educational Research Association of Singapore (ERAS, 2005-2008) and President of the Asia-Pacific Educational Research Association (APERA, 2008-2010). He was also the Vice-President (Asia and Pacific Rim) of the International Association for Cognitive Education and Psychology (IACEP, 2008-2011).

Professor Tan was a board director on many key education establishments in Singapore including the Singapore Exams and Assessment Board (SEAB), NIE International (NIEI), Singapore Centre for Chinese Language (SCCL) and the National Institute of Early Childhood Development. He is currently on the advisory board for the Professional Advisory Panel for NIEC, Museum Education Advisory Panel for the National Gallery and the CANS Advisory for TTSH.

Professor Tan was an Expert Panel member of the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Fund of Singapore which is responsible for awarding grants of S$350 million over 5 years (2017-2021). He was an Expert Panel member of the Tertiary Education Research Fund. Prof Tan was Lead-Editor of the Asia Pacific Journal of Education (APJE, Routledge). Under his leadership APJE grew from a new SCCI journal to one of high impact factor. He is currently Editor-in-Chief of the journal Educational Research for Policy & Practice published by Springer and He is on the advisory boards of numerous international journals.

Prof Tan's areas of expertise include teacher education, teacher professional development, learning innovation (especially in problem-based learning), and educational psychology. He is recognized as an international thought leader in teacher identity as well as in advocating character and values as foundations of learning. He has authored/edited more than 20 books and over 150 scholarly articles/chapters in the various fields of education and psychology. He has delivered keynote addresses on topics in these fields in major international conferences in the United States, South America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, China, Central Asia, the Arab states and Southeast Asia. His keynotes include the National Science Foundation (NSF) Education & Human Resource (EHR) Distinguished Lecture in Washington, D.C., American Educational Research Association Annual Meetings Presidential sessions, the Royal Swedish Academy of Science international symposium, international education ministers’ summits and OECD Education Ministerial Forums. Prof Tan has also delivered major addresses at some of the best global universities including Harvard University, Tsinghua University, Nagoya University, Seoul National University, and National University of Singapore. He has played advisory roles for major international foundations including the Stiftung Haus der Kleinen Forscher (Germany).

Prof Tan has also been a consultant to many government bodies and ministries of education including Denmark, Italy, Bahrain, UAE, Japan as well as international organisations including Japan International Corporation Agency, Asia Development Bank, World Bank, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Professor Tan has been an Expert Panel Member of the Social Science and Humanities Research for Singapore. He is also an Expert Panel Member of the Tertiary Education Research Funding. He is convener of the World Educational Research Association (WERA) International Research Network on Teacher Education. Professor Tan was President of the Educational Research Association of Singapore (ERAS, 2005-2008) and President of the Asia-Pacific Educational Research Association (APERA, 2008-2010). He was also the Vice-President (Asia and Pacific Rim) of the International Association for Cognitive Education and Psychology (IACEP, 2008-2011).

He is Editor-in-Chief of the Educational Research for Policy & Practice (ERPP) journal published by Springer. He was also the Lead Editor of the Asia Pacific Journal of Education (APJE) published by Routledge.

Professor Tan has authored/edited more than 20 books and over 150 scholarly articles/chapters in the areas of teacher education, cognitive psychology, early childhood and problem-based learning (PBL).
 
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Awards
• 2022 Nanyang Distinguished Alumni Award
• 2019 Chen Yidan Visiting Global Fellow Harvard University
• 2018 Outstanding Contribution Asia Pacific Educational Research Association
• 2015 Service to Education Award Ministry of Education, Singapore
• 2014 Public Administrative Medal (Silver) Singapore National Day Honours
• 2010 Honorary Lifelong Fellow Asia-Pacific Educational Research Association
• 2008 Public Administrative Medal (Bronze) Singapore National Day Honours
• 2000 The Enterprise Challenge (TEC) Innovator Award Prime Minister’s Office, Singapore