Higher education institutions play a major role in both the academic and personal development of a student, and choosing the right higher education institution will offer multiple benefits to the learner. Apart from being equipped with the skills required to thrive in the modern world, a well-established educational institution will also allow learners to expand their horizons and achieve success both in the personal and professional front. Currently ranked among the world’s top 20 education institutions and top 3 in Asia based on Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) ranking by subjects, National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NIE NTU, Singapore), is an autonomous institution of NTU in Singapore, and a world-renowned teacher education institute that is supported by faculty members who are passionate not just in imparting skills and knowledge, but also in inspiring learning. Dr. Mardiana, a lecturer with the Policy, Curriculum and Leadership Academic Group (PCL AG) and the programme leader for Master of Education(Curriculum and Teaching), is one such exemplary educator in NIE NTU, Singapore.
An inclusive Learning Environment
NIE offers a plethora of programmes and courses in the area of curriculum, teaching and learning.. Graduated from NIE herself, Dr. Mardiana believes that situated understandings and a strong culture of doing and applying new understandings of school research, particularly on Singapore’s unique education system, its development and limitations, are the hallmarks of the faculty in NIE.
Referring to the unique teaching pedagogies in NIE, Dr. Mardiana adds, “NIE’s courses are marked by a rigorous curriculum that is framed by a dialogic pedagogy and undergirded with reflective tasks at every turn. The faculty ensures rich discussions and invites students to explicate and carry out tasks that assess their assumptions and conceptions of their current and possible new practice. Formative assignments are also provided at the start of the courses to support their learning. In addition, the students are also required to go through the latest literature in their areas of learning, so that they are informed of the milestone theories and we work towards them leaving each course knowing how these theories may inform and lay stronger foundations for their day-to-day practice. I believe these are the work of a caring and competent teachers’ college.”
“Dr. Mardiana is part of three major research projects that focus on lower-performing learners, and how Singapore’s rigorous and competitive education system levels up the playing field for students at various levels of their careers as learners”
When asked to describe the teacher-student dynamics at NIE, she enthuses, “I think there is a wonderfully respectful relationship between teachers and students in NIE at all levels. The faculty that I work with are concerned and compassionate educators who would walk the extra mile to answer students’ queries and support struggling students with extra hours of consultation. I have also observed NIE faculty working hard to build a community of learners who can lean on each other in their educational journey through assigning project works and group assignments.”
Completing the Full circle
Sharing about her professional journey and how she ended up-choosing NIE for her postgraduate studies, Mardiana says, “I began my association with NIE as an adjunct staff, teaching communication subjects with the English Language and Literature Academic Group (ELL AG) in 2000. Back then, I was working as a freelance journalist with The Straits Times. I joined NIE full-time as a Research Associate at the Centre for Research in Pedagogy and Practice (CRPP) in 2003. In 2004, the first Dean of CRPP, former Professor Allan Luke persuaded me to embark on my Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), and I started my first semester as a PhD candidate in NIE’s nascent PhD programme. After my first semester, he encouraged me to accept a stint as a Research Assistant at a university in New York to continue my PhD and gain some international immersive comparative experiences. I left NIE in 2005 and was with the university’s School of Education for two illuminating semesters where I met and had meaningful discourses with luminaries such as Lois Weis, Rose Ylimaki, Yoshiko Nozaki and the late Greg Dimitriadis. I returned to Singapore in 2007 and had a short stint in a polytechnic, where I headed the research department for continuing education”.
Dr. Mardiana re-joined NIE in 2008 as a lecturer with the former Curriculum, Teaching and Learning Academic Group (CTL AG).Apart from that, Dr. Mardiana is also a part of three major research projects that focus on lower-performing learners, and how Singapore’s rigorous and competitive education system levels up the playing field for students at various levels of their careers as learners.
She described her journey in NIE as a full circle, which began as an adjunct, doing educational research, to becoming a PhD student, and now contributing back to the curriculum and pedagogical learnings in NIE . When asked about her advice to prospective students of NIE, Dr. Mardiana replies, “Be prepared for rigorous work but to still enjoy the process of developing yourself as a scholar, because we want you to. We will stretch you, and we will ask you to critically examine your own assumptions and practice, but we will also honour your anxieties and your understandings. So, join us for a journey of joy and self-discovery.”