Chris McMorran

Chris McMorran


My teaching philosophy and desired learning outcomes emphasise self-discovery, effective communication, and synthesis of knowledge. This requires the following: 1) I constantly pare back lectures and devise active learning projects that will help students learn a new idea or skill on their own. I also teach research methods that empower students to explore their own research questions. 2) I constantly strive for ways for students to gain the confidence and skills to effectively communicate their ideas to others. Each of my modules involves pair work, small-group discussion, large-group discussion, and presentations, in order to develop communication skills. I also use reflective notebooks, Wiki articles, author meets critics exercises, and public lectures in different modules to provide alternative avenues of communication. 3) Whether in introductory or honor's modules, I aim to write lectures that connect ideas across time and space. More importantly, I create exercises, like role-play, Wiki assignments, and research opportunities that enable students to make connections on their own

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Chris McMorran is an Associate Professor in the Department of Japanese Studies, where he has taught since 2010. He is a multiple award-winning educator who teaches a variety of modules, with enrolments ranging from 2 to 460. He is a cultural geographer with broad research interests in the geographies of home and the geographies of teaching and learning. He has published disciplinary scholarship in international journals such as Area, Mobilities, and Landscape Journal, as well as SoTL research in the Journal of Geography in Higher Education, Education About Asia, and Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education. He co-edited Teaching Japanese Popular Culture (with Deborah Shamoon), a volume dedicated to explaining the pedagogical issues associated with teaching about or with popular culture, and he has conducted research on grading and the implications of grade-free learning. He frequently gives pedagogical workshops and lectures on topics ranging from incorporating peer review in student writing to the challenges associated with creating online modules. He serves on the FASS Graduate Student Teaching Award Committee (2014-present) and FASS Faculty Teaching Excellence Committee (2016-present) and enjoys speaking with others about all aspects of teaching and learning. He pioneered a Field Studies in Japan module that he has led for six years. This program has enabled 63 undergraduates to conduct fieldwork in Japan at almost no cost, thanks to more than $170K in external support that he has secured. After growing up in Iowa and graduating from Central College (1995), Chris lived and worked abroad, including three years in Japan, before returning to school to pursue graduate studies. He completed his graduate studies with support from the National Science Foundation (US), Japan Foundation, the Japanese Ministry of Education, the Social Science Research Council (US), as well as a prestigious Gilbert White Dissertation Fellowship from the University of Colorado. He earned his PhD from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 2008.

About being a part of the Academy…

I am honoured to be a member of the Teaching Academy. I look forward to working with others to improve the quality of teaching and learning at NUS, as well as to helping NUS become a recognised leader in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL). It is my hope that more members of the NUS community will approach their teaching in an academic way, leading to insights not only for their classrooms, but also for scholars and educators elsewhere.

Teaching Awards / Accolades

  • Honor Roll, National University of Singapore Annual Teaching Excellence Award (2016-2020)
  • Centre for the Development of Teaching and Learning (NUS) Research Grant: “Assessing the impacts of Grade-free Learning” ( 2014-16)
  • National University of Singapore Annual Teaching Excellence Award (2015, 2014, 2013)
  • National University of Singapore Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Teaching Excellence Award (2015, 2014, 2013)
  • Innovation Award, NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (2013)       
  • Grants to support Field Studies in Japan module (over $160K over six years) (2011-16)
  • Centre for Instructional Technology (NUS) Teaching Technology Grant: iPad loan for 24 students (2013)