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Holistic Education

One  of the four strategic goals of Towards SP@60 is to re-emphasise the holistic  development of our students so that they are competent, versatile, creative and  innovative, imbued with sound values and excel in work and life so as to  achieve the desired outcomes of being work-ready, life-ready and world-ready.

SP’s strategy to accomplish a holistic education for all SP students is to place emphasis on the Emotional, Social, Physical, and  Intellectual (ESPI) development of our students through a curriculum that emphasises balance and integration between deep technical expertise and broad  general education, and embraces a design thinking mindset.

As part of the Holistic Education Framework, SP has  developed a set of six graduate attributes: competence, communication and  teamwork; creativity, innovation and enterprise; ethics and responsibility; global mindset; personal and social effectiveness. These attributes constitute the “T-shaped” graduate that is sought  after in the new economy, as highlighted in the Economic Strategy Committee (ESC) Report 2010.

Key Components and  Distinctiveness of SP Holistic Education Framework

The distinctiveness of SP Holistic education is in the  inclusion of a General Education  Programme in the core curriculum and the adoption of Design Thinking and Multi-Disciplinary  Project as a key teaching and learning approach.  They provide the horizontal bar of the  “T-shaped” graduate.

The SP Holistic Education also incorporates the Conceive-Design-Implement-Operate (CDIO) framework, developed by MIT, as curriculum development tool to review  and structure our courses and modules, and to shape the SP learning experience  in order to achieve our desired graduate attributes. The CDIO framework is summarised as follow:

  • An integrated curriculum encompassing both technical knowledge and reasoning as well as  personal and interpersonal skills;
  • Teaching, learning and assessment that focuses on active learning in real-world contexts;
  • Learning/social spaces and staff/student development that supports the desired  learning outcomes and activities;
  • Comprehensive quality management systems to evaluate and monitor  goal achievement.

Academic Schools/Department who have adopted or are adopting the CDIO framework have a head start towards  ensuring their courses are Holistic Education-ready.

CDIO and Design Thinking

Used  together, CDIO and Design Thinking unleash the collective creative potential of  students working in multi-disciplinary teams. They are crucial components in  Singapore Polytechnic’s strategy to educate and train innovative, future-ready  graduates for Singapore. They develop the following distinguishing attributes  in our graduates.

  • Empathy: Students do in-depth research on potential end-users in order to  identify needs, behaviours and attitudes that help define issues to be solved.  The process exemplifies a “People First” approach with attention to issues of ethics and responsibility. Students  learn to focus on the social, cultural and environmental angle of innovation,  in addition to the conventional technology or business angles.
  • Integration: Students go beyond the familiar analytical problem-solving approach to  include a more integrative approach that embraces intuition and imagination.  Integrating analytical and abductive thinking strengthens the creativity, innovation and enterprise disposition of students. Students learn to deal with conceptual uncertainty, to  take risks, to try out probable solutions rather than acting only on “proven” solutions. 
  • Collaboration: Students of different disciplines  (technology, business, design) and points of view are brought together to  ensure feasibility, viability and desirability of solutions. Students learn to  value diverse perspectives, teamwork and  communication, and develop personal  & social effectiveness as well as a global  mindset.

The Learning and Creative Teaching Framework

Two powerful research-based frameworks underpin the approach to teaching and learning. These frameworks apply across the range of specific teaching competences that comprise SP's Learning Roadmap (login required).

The Learning Framework

The Learning Framework was developed from a comprehensive and critical review of the research literature on human learning from a wide range of fields (e.g., experimental, cognitive and social psychology) and research on best practices in a range of educational and cultural contexts. It is important to note that it does not prescribe specific strategies to use in learning design and teaching, nor is it aligned to any particular perspective or paradigm in education or psychology. The 10 core principles, which are key components of the framework, provide lenses or frames from which lecturers can thoughtfully plan student learning from a solid empirical base. To learn more about SP's Learning Framework click here (login required).

The Creative Teaching Framework

The Creative Teaching Framework is a SP invention and was developed from extensive research into the practices and styles of highly effective teaching professionals. It is firmly grounded in the Core Principles of the Learning Framework (which constitute the 'science of learning') but provides an additional complimentary framework from which teaching and learning designs can be made even more interesting and creative. The Creative Teaching Framework is often referred to by the acronym SHAPE.

SHAPE refers to:

  • Stories told to provide context, understanding and emotional anchors
  • Humour used to achieve rapport and provide novelty
  • Activities provided to integrate, apply and consolidate learning
  • Presentation style (e.g., words, tone, body language - as well as observation and listening) to provide clarity, meaning and influence student attention, beliefs and psychological states
  • Examples used to illustrate facts, concepts, principles, procedures