Pedagogy Research

Creating an environment to allow students to appreciate the linkage between subjects has been gaining increasing importance because interdisciplinary approaches are necessary to address socio-technological challenges. Hence, our research group places high importance in pedagogy and is always interested to explore new methods, especially in the area of interdisciplinary learning.

Integrated Physics & Math for Integrated Interdisciplinary Learning

Subjects like Physics and Mathematics have often been taught as separate subjects. This results in students viewing the two subjects as individual subjects, which is not ideal because there is no clear distinction between the subjects when dealing with real-life problems. For example, a number of students have a tendency to view Mathematics as only formula without applications, which result in them losing interest as they are unable to appreciate the vast number of applications that Mathematics can be applied in. In addition, it has been observed that a number of students are able to solve the Mathematics portion during Mathematics lesson, but are unable to evaluate similar Mathematics questions during Physics lessons. Hence, this project proposes integrated Physics and Mathematics learning and aims to help students establish linkage between the two subjects. In order to achieve the learning objective of the students being able to appreciate the linkage between the two mentioned subjects, the syllabus is planned such that Physics is used as an application of Mathematics.

The proposed idea has been implemented and preliminary experiments has been conducted with incoming SUTD students in the bridging course. The team for this project is a holistic team, comprising teachers, officer, and senior faculty.

Faculty involved: Professor Zhu Yajuan [Julia] (SUTD), Mr Kheng Sze Guan (RI), Ms Shirely Tay (NYJC), Dr Darren Wong (MOE), Professor Toh Tin Lam (NIE), Professor Pey Kin-Leong (SUTD)

Interdisciplinary Teaching and Enhancement of Breadth and Depth of a course via two sets of Learning Objectives

Advancement in technology has not brought along higher quality of life, but also an increase in complexity of problem around the world. Engineering solution nowadays requires contribution from various fields. However, traditionaly, each department has the tendency to develop the courses base on the department’s fundamentals. For example, introductory robotics course are taught in Engineering departments like Mechanical Engineering (ME) and Electrical Engineering (EE). Each department has their own area of focus and the syllabus and the learning objectives vary between the two departments even though it is an introductory robotics course. This usually results in the students having the depth in the area related to their department, but lack the breadth knowledge from other departments to provide a multi-disciplinary holistic solution.

In order to maintain the depth of knowledge and yet increase the breadth, this project proposes a robotics course with two sets of learning objectives to address the concern, with one tailored with more ME emphasis while the second is with more EE emphasis. There are common contents between the departments and these two groups of students will attend some of the lessons together. For topics or depth that is more ME (eg: dynamics) or EE (eg: signal processing) emphasis, the students will be separated to attend the appropriate lessons.

SUTD Faculty involved: Professor Lee Chee Huei, Professor Zhu Yajuan

Interdisciplinary learning through Design Activities uniting “Circuits & Electronics” and “Structure & Materials”

It has been shown that interdisciplinary education better prepares students for work and citizenship by developing higher order cognitive skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, and the ability to see multiple perspectives. The combination of interdisciplinary topics and intentional pedagogy has the potential to promote better learning than in isolation. When incorporated, interdisciplinary pedagogy activities are often only provided at the capstone design level, or in extracurricular research activities within multidisciplinary laboratories settings.


The two independently taught parallel courses, “Circuits & Electronics” and “Structures & Materials”, both consist of mini active discussions with in-class questions, hands-on experiences, and laboratory experiments, creating effective active learning environments.  To demonstrate the link between the two subjects and reinforce the concepts taught, a series of interdisciplinary design activities were designed by the instructors. The learning objectives of these activities include: (1) To reinforce certain concepts taught in the two subjects, (2) to demonstrate the coexistence of the two subjects in various applications, (3) to advance design and innovation skills and mindset through open-eneded, inventive problems, and (4) to inspire greater confidence in working on interdisciplinary projects that involve both mechanical and electrical components.

This study is performed in collaboration with Professor Soh Gim Song, who is teaching “Structures & Materials”, to develop design activities that link the two subjects with applications in various industries.

SUTD Faculty: Professor Soh Gim Song, Professor Kristin L. Wood, Professor Teo Tee Hui