Four children holding hands

“The influence of adult and peer role models on children’ and adolescents’ sharing decisions”: Sample selection and the importance of research context

Ruggeri et al. (2018) are interested in the sharing decisions of Italian and Singaporean children and adolescents, examining – through an adapted dictator game with the use of a comic character, so as to experimentally study how the participants think goods should be shared – the influence of peers versus adults and of fair versus unfair suggestions. And while the unsurprising findings still offer useful insights to educators and practitioners who work with young people, there should also be greater attention on sample selection and the importance of research context.

Man in business suit

Student expectations to earn S$3,000 to S$4,000 from their first jobs: Contextualising expectations with reality

Scholarship portal BrightSparks conducted a survey of 3,215 university, polytechnic, and junior college students, and news outlets ran with the provocative headlines “1 in 5 students in Singapore expect starting salaries of S$4,000 or more, survey finds” (Nov. 21) and “Three in four students in Singapore expect more than $3,000 from their first job” (Nov. 20). Unsurprisingly, the headlines drew derisive criticisms against young Singaporeans characterised as being unrealistic or too demanding with their inflated salary expectations, even though results of the Ministry of Education’s Graduate Employment Surveys (GES) show that the expected starting salaries – especially that of potential university graduates – are very much in reach.

Classroom in Brazil

“Interprofessional collaboration between social workers and school counsellors in tackling youth at-risk behaviour”: Of social service mandates and definitions of “at-risk”

The collaboration (and conflicts) between social workers and school counsellors – in the school context, working with and for “at-risk” students – is (are) the focus of Lim and Wong’s (2018) study, which has the potential to offer practical recommendations for such professionals across Singapore. While some of the dynamics are well-documented, three limitations should be highlighted: First, the focus on inter-professional collaboration at the individual level ignores more structural mandates dictating the roles of the counsellors and social workers (and is thus a missed opportunity to interrogate how the professionals perceive their responsibilities); second, there was only one counsellor-social worker dyad in the sample of nine, which means professional interactions were not adequately captured; and third, persistent reliance on the label “at-risk”, in my opinion, continues to be problematic.

Dakota train station

“‘Bridges and ladders’: The paradox of equity in excellence in Singapore schools”: The problem of inequality beyond the schools

That the Singaporean discourse on inequality has centred disproportionately on schools and the education system is unsurprising, especially since meritocracy remains perceived as the country’s main principle of governance. Yet, notwithstanding the elitism and lack of demographic representation associated with top schools, if sources of inequality stem from economic or labour policies, the hypothesis that the education system could in fact be mitigating the effects of socio-economic disparities should be taken more seriously.

Graduation at Marina Barrage

““Getting ahead in Singapore”: How neighbourhoods, gender, and ethnicity affect enrolment into elite schools”: Using JC yearbooks as data

Given the challenges associated with obtaining complete data of the socio-economic diversity of Singapore’s top schools, Chua et al.’s (2019) research strategy of using 40 years of junior college (JC) yearbooks (1971 to 2010) as data – to study the influence of neighbourhoods, gender, and ethnicity on elite school enrolment – is therefore a very interesting workaround.