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‘Tips for a successful TRF proposal’ featured in latest instalment of CRADLE Connects​

Published on: 11-May-2017

The Centre for Research and Development in Learning at Nanyang Technological University (CRADLE@NTU) initiated a talk on “Tips for a successful Tertiary Education Research Fund (TRF) proposal” for its latest instalment of CRADLE Connects. The event was held at the Hive complex, NTU on 4th May 2017 and drew around 40 academics and professionals from different NTU schools and divisions.

CRADLE Connects is a series of networking sessions designed to facilitate dialogue in the NTU community on topics related to pedagogical innovation and the science of learning.

TRF is an annual allocation inaugurated in 2015 by the Ministry of Education (MOE) to support applied education research intending to improve teaching and learning practices across Singapore’s institutes of higher learning.

Proposed research projects can take either one or a combination of any of the four forms, namely, 1) ideation or proof of concept to develop learning principles and theories into implementable models; 2) translation projects to test proven ideas in new contexts; 3) scaling projects to implement tested ideas in increasing number of sites; and 4) evaluation studies to assess the effectiveness and outcomes of new and existing projects.

Proposals focusing on the 2017 annual theme “measuring student learning outcomes” are due for internal shortlisting by NTU’s Research Support Office on 1st June 2017. TRF funds amount to anywhere from S$40,000 to S$250,000 for individual projects with utmost 2-year timeline; and up to S$1 million for programmatic research programmes slated for a 3-year term.

CRADLE Deputy Director and Associate Professor Tan Seng Chee said, “CRADLE intends to help NTU scholars get funding support for education research. We believe that research-driven data can impact transformation in teaching and learning long-term.”

During the event, Assoc Prof Claus-Dieter Ohl of the School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences and Dr Kumaran Rajaram of Nanyang Business School shared about their projects that successfully clinched TRF grants in 2016. They are currently engaged in projects titled, “Productive Failure via Educational Games for Tertiary Education” and “Social-psychological interventions for empathy and leadership ability development in business students”, respectively, which were among the 16 proposals from seven institutes that earned the nod of the international panel invited by MOE. These were chosen from 47 proposals submitted last year.

Both academics stressed on the importance of clear language, focused scope and applicability of the findings, project alignment with funding rules, feasibility of the study, and internal review process during the grant writing process.

Dr Peter Looker, Head of Teaching, Learning, and Pedagogy Division, also provided pointers on how to craft better TRF proposals based on feedback from education research panelists. According to him, pedagogy-centred problem statement, robust and up-to-date literature review, and original education research were among the criteria that set apart awarded proposals from the rest. 

A networking session after the talk was led by CRADLE Research Scientists Betsy Ng, Kevin Hartman, and Hong Huaqing.

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