Research (Evidence based Design)
Description of how research is used to improve school programmes and processes
At Edgefield, we place a premium value upon research-informed practice. Research is crucial in helping us find out how to help students learn better, discover new approaches and validate them to better discover their values and acquire 21st century skills. Research informs us about things we are not aware of and changes our approach to learning to be more engaged, self-directed, and sustained lifelong.
We work closely with our network of research partners, from local Institutes of Higher Learning such as the National Institute of Education (NIE), National University of Singapore (NUS), to international institutions such as Boston College’s Lynch School of Education and Queens College, City University of New York, on a range of student-focused research collaborations.
To hone compassionate leadership in our students, we seek insights through research studies and literature to provide us with important information. Such information forms the basis to help us further develop our programmes, so as to cater to our students’ learning needs. For example, our school seeks to understand the nature of peer networks within our school population as we develop effective peer-support programmes and class-bonding activities for our students. Since 2020, we have been collaborating with the research team from the National Institute of Education on the Peer Network Analysis Study. We learn from the findings to design interventions to support the full subject-based banding curriculum as well as to promote the forging of stronger bonds amongst students from different backgrounds within our mixed form classes.
As we nurture our students with the dispositions to learn for life, we empower students to be self-directed and motivated learners. We utilise validated tools from research studies to measure the 21st century competency skills and the acquired learning dispositions in our students, so as to determine the effectiveness of our developmental programmes. In addition, our school has been partnering the research team from the Department of Psychology, National University of Singapore since 2020. Our aim is to cultivate our students to think strategically through a series of metacognitive approaches. Through these research-informed interventions and learnt approaches, our students can grow to become self-directed learners as they develop future ready capabilities and apply these thinking skills when they are facing challenges in life.
In line with our school’s strategic outcome to develop future ready thinkers, we use research-based evidence to guide us in our curriculum design as we continue to grow the minds of our students. For example, research studies have shown that an interdisciplinary teaching and learning approach fosters deeper learning (Sawyer, 2006; Pellegrino & Hilton, 2012; Holmbukt & Larsen, 2016). Hence, within our school curriculum, we strive to facilitate the construction of connections between disciplines to develop new understanding, create products and address real-world issues. In another example, as Singapore progresses on the National Digital Literacy Programme, our school has also collaborated with researchers from Boston College’s Lynch School of Education to study how we can even more effectively leverage upon the use of one-to-one technology and personalised learning to achieve the outcomes of our total curriculum.
Sawyer, R. K. (2006). Educating for innovation. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 1(1), 41–48. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tsc.2005.08.001
Pellegrino, J.W. and M. Hilton (eds.). (2012). Education For Life and Work: Developing Transferable Knowledge and Skills in the 21st Century, National Academies Press, Washington, DC.
Holmbukt, T. & Larsen, A. B. (2016). Interdisciplinary teaching as motivation: An initiative for change in post-16 vocational education. Nordic Journal of Modern Language Methodology, 4 (1), 67-82.
In alignment to our school’s Teaching & Learning framework, teachers in Edgefield have been working towards assimilating assessment feedback seamlessly into our classroom teaching by developing feedback pedagogy, to help students better understand their own learning gaps so that they are empowered to take ownership of their learning.
Since 2021, we have worked closely with a team of NIE researchers to examine various factors affecting students’ feedback uptake. One recent research study has found that students are most receptive to feedback, and most importantly take action to improve, when they perceive the feedback to be useful, and have high levels of affective and cognitive engagement with the feedback received. (Latest Singapore Research on Assessment Feedback, n.d.)
Inspired by these research findings and reflecting on our own assessment practices, some of our teachers took the lead in reviewing the way we provide feedback to students in order to deepen their learning. In 2021 alone, three professional learning teams have designed different feedback pedagogies in consultation with NIE researchers and observed an increase in feedback uptake in students. More details on these projects can be found in the Assessment Literacy for All Resource Site:
Heartened by the positive outcomes of deploying feedback pedagogy, Edgefield will be moving towards a whole-school feedback pedagogy approach, both in instructional and co-curricular programmes, so that students will be better equipped with feedback literacy, thereby inculcating their autonomous learning habits, empowering them to learn for life.
Future Ready Programme (FRP)
Our school’s total curriculum is designed with the intent to develop Edgefielders with future ready capabilities that are essential for them to adapt and thrive in a complex and changing world. The Future Ready Programme is a platform which provides learning experiences to develop Edgefield students with future ready capabilities. The programme builds on the external scans of future trends published by international and local organizations, such as the Global Risks Reports and the Future of Jobs Report by the World Economic Forum, research projects from the Institute of Policy Studies, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. We then adapted the scenario planning approach from the Centre for Strategic Futures, part of the new Strategy Group in the Prime Minister Office in our school-based design of scenario-based learning for our students.
Our school has distilled and identified the key set of skills, competencies and dispositions that match our student profile. The programme is framed by Howard Gardner’s Five Minds for the Future. Hence, the learning experiences are designed for students to apply the thinking or actions that people will need to thrive in our future world. As a result, this will cultivate in students both academic skills and character required to thrive in the future (Gardner, 2006).
FRP project cycles are guided by our in-house problem solving framework. In developing this eclectic framework, our team has evaluated many problem solving frameworks such as Apple’s Challenge-based Learning Framework, the 6-step problem solving process and design thinking. This in-house framework incorporates the strengths of the other frameworks we have evaluated and it has been modified to suit our programme design.
To help our students unpack collaboration skills and have a better understanding of what it means to be collaborative for developmental purposes, our school works closely with researchers from NIE to utilize a digital formative assessment tool for collaboration skills development. The platform allows our students to learn about the four-dimensional teamwork competency that emphasizes the process of working with other team members. In addition, as part of the formative assessment, a peer-rated teamwork competency instrument was also developed for students to assess their peers in a recent collaborative inquiry experience. Peer assessment adds another level of knowledge, others-ratings, to help understand students’ behavior. Students will learn that teamwork competency consists of coordination (COD), mutual performance monitoring (MPM), constructive conflict (CCF), and team emotional support (TES).
Pursuit of Happiness
The concept of happiness or well-being generally revolves around two philosophies - hedonism (Kahneman et al, 1999) and eudaimonism (Waterman, 1993). The two philosophies, hedonism and eudaimonism, are founded on distinct views of human nature and of what constitutes a good society. At Edgefield Secondary, we believe that student well-being is premised on an array of positive aspects of functioning that are promoted by attainment of strong attachment relationships, acquisition of age appropriate cognitive, interpersonal, and coping skills, and exposure to environments that empower the person.
This belief is supported by the Harvard Study of Adult Development, which is a longitudinal study that started in 1938. The study by Harvard revealed that the most important factor influencing happiness is the quality of relationships, over and above all other factors such as wealth, health and circumstances beyond one’s control.
Guided by our Pursuit of Happiness framework, the CCE curriculum and student wellbeing initiatives at Edgefield Secondary focus on helping our students develop a healthy identity, make quality informed decisions and equip them with skills to develop quality relationships with their peers and teachers.
Edgefield Secondary started with Sketchnoting since 2017 during the Secondary 1 Level Camp where students were introduced to the fundamentals of Sketchnoting. Sketchnoting, according to research, allows a person to retain information better and longer when there is an accompanying visual text (Medina, 2008).
Besides the use of the Mike Rhodes Sketchnote Handbook to craft lessons for the Level Camp workshop, a survey was also conducted at the end of the level camps to improve the workshop further. Students went through rigorous practices about the fundamentals of Sketchnoting during the workshop. Later in 2018, Sketchnoting@EFSS also branched out with Sketchnoting newsletters and further resources for students.
We seek to develop our students’ potential and interest to learn and take ownership of their learning through Sketchnoting.
Potential Development Programme
In Edgefield Secondary, we develop our students’ diverse interests, aptitudes, abilities, and passions. Edgefield’s programmes go beyond school learning to push our students to greater heights. These activities help our students discover the limits of their potential. On top of that, collaborations with external partners help to polish their potential. National competitions are an added platform to showcase their talents and abilities while learning from their counterparts in various schools.
A school-wide potential development framework that encompasses both academic and non-academic domains has been put in place, with the intent of providing every student with a well-rounded experience through their exposure to five developmental domains: Cognitive, Character and Leadership, Community and Citizenship, the Arts, and Sports and Health.
This framework draws upon Dr. Donald Treffinger’s Level of Service model (Treffinger, Young, Nassab, Selby, & Wittig, 2008), and each domain is structured into four levels, ranging from broad based to being interest and aptitude specific. We seek to identify and develop the potential in each child, as developing talent over an extended period of time is vital for success in the 21st Century.