Research Career and the Important Academic Achievement Research Projects


Academic Collaboration




In 1915, Sir William Henry Bragg pointed out that discovering a new body of knowledge is not only the goal of scientific research but that the essential concern is establishing evolutional methodology. He then shared a Nobel Prize for their crystal structure analysis utilizing X-rays with his son. Although over a century has passed, this idea is still valid for Taiwanese science education's present and future.

Test-oriented pedagogy is still the reality that constrains teaching and learning in the current Taiwanese educational system. For students attempting to survive in today's education, learning content must be memorized, and the time for needed comprehension is sacrificed. Although logical reasoning is the goal of science learning, the only way to succeed in a series of tests requires students to memorize various disciplines of scientific factual knowledge. Thus, the passion for learning vanishes in many students. The worst part is that the foundation of memorization, in place of learning comprehension, may eventually destroy the educational progress of the next generation.

Upon recognizing this reality, I have devoted myself to academia, aiming to develop practical approaches for the future of science education and learning. The COMT-related paper published by Brain & Cognition in Feb.2013 was selected by The New York Times Sunday Magazine and became the daily top forwarded article of the New York Times online edition. Domestic media has repeatedly reported on this paper (e.g., Spot News of China times on Page A3). More related research works have been published in PLOS One, Neural Plasticity, and other academic journals.

To better carry out innovative research with contemporary significance and mission, since 2011, a comprehensive research team that combines the field of education, cognitive psychology, neuroscience, and genomics (ECNG) has been created. The research aims to study the related mechanisms of human learning and memory formation and the correlation between genes and epigenetics with cognitive ability and emotional intelligence. The research team’s objectives are (i) to increase our understanding of the complex scientific reasoning and learning mechanisms, (ii) to provide important support to the "adaptive teaching-learning" interaction, and (iii) to design smart learning environments that can be of help for the metacognition of learning: learn how-to-learn. In 2019, the research team published an article on the theme: “Multiple epigenetic biomarkers for evaluation of students’ academic performance” (Lee et al., Genes, Brain and Behavior). The research aims to explore the correlation between genetic and epigenetic factors in neural pathways related to brain plasticity, cognitive ability, and scientific learning effectiveness. This study confirms that epigenetic biomarkers affect adolescents’ cognitive function and the effectiveness of scientific learning. Understanding how the learning environment and heredity affect each other will inspire the academic and practical aspects of adaptive learning. Over the years, our ECNG research team has explored the correlation between related genes and students’ cognition, emotional psychology, and scientific learning and has evaluated students’ learning effectiveness, emotional development, and social behavior. In 2021, the latest research results were published in the internationally renowned journal “Molecular Brain”. This research confirms the mutual regulation of students’ cognitive abilities and important genetic genes. The research results will have a revolutionary impact on neuroscience and science education, and we will further develop the results of this research. The new generation of scientific inquiry improves learning efficiency and provides cross-scientific knowledge learning for future students.

I have devoted myself to using technology to enhance science learning and teaching for a long period of time. In the context of technology-enhanced learning/teaching, the technology should be “developed to meet the needs of learners and teachers, rather than the technology itself.” Therefore, I explored the modes of problem-solving teaching, students’ alternative frameworks, and their conjunctive impacts on science learning achievements. By combining the research results with computer-assisted instruction (CAI) and the designed structure for learning, my team analyzed the strategies, methods, and performance of the usage of CAI. The research achievements on these subjects won the Outstanding Research Award of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) in 2003. More than 22 articles on this topic have been published in SSCI journals; half of these papers are published in the top 20% of journals in the field of education. Based on the aforementioned research achievements, my research team and I have further developed the CouldClassRoom (CCR) mobile system to facilitate teacher-student interactions in the Asian classroom in which most of the students feel uncomfortable about speaking up in class. A paper reviewing and examining the educational theories underlying CCR has been published in the top 2% of journals in the field of education. To date, over 140,000 students and teachers have registered in CCR. Over 970,000 classroom activities have been conducted by using CCR. The users of CCR are from all over the world, including Taiwan, the U.S., England, France, the Netherlands, Australia, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Macao, Hong Kong, and China. Such an achievement demonstrates the practical impact of my research work.

In 2019, the EDUCAUSE Horizon Report selected NTNU from over 60 institutions in the US and internationally as an exemplary institution for using CCR as a powerful interactive tool in classroom learning. Integrated with the current development of emerging technologies, CCR can effectively match today's societal changes and classroom needs by providing more teaching possibilities and adapting to various classroom environments and diverse teacher and student characteristics. Based on our empirical research results, CCR can provide a personalized teaching environment for students with high or low prior knowledge by enabling teaching guidance according to different cognitive loads.

While facing the global adversities of the COVID-19 Pandemic since 2020, many institutions worldwide have been locked down and offer online courses and meetings instead. CCR can be a good online teaching and learning tool to keep students engaged and motivated in online learning environments. CCR has been used on several online learning occasions to supplement the existing online conferencing tools, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, my CCR research project was funded by the Humanities and Social Sciences Excellence Research Program from the NSTC. Among the applied national research projects, only six received government funding. It is anticipated that my research in CCR will be carried out further in three stages for cross-nation comparative study, global dissemination, and technology innovation to make CCR with global influence more in line with users’ needs and ultimately enhance people's technological application capacities.

Evaluating the learner’s high-level problem-solving ability has always been an important and difficult education problem. My research team has been striving to modify the large-scale examination and the traditional evaluation system that focuses entirely on the exams. The technology of learning with Artificial Intelligence and Natural Language Processing has opened a new window for us. My team has developed an “automatic evaluation system for studying and examining Earth Sciences,” which can evaluate the learners as accurately as humans. This system can be used for e-Learning and provide auto-evaluations and feedback. This research has been selected as one of the 50 most remarkable special scientific achievements for the NSTC 50th Anniversary (“Science 50”─ Scientific achievements of the NSTC 50th Anniversary). Based on these achievements, I was awarded the Outstanding Research Award of NSTC for the second time in 2009.

Learning and teaching, education, and evaluation usually take place in the classroom. The research on classroom learning environment is much more difficult than learning and teaching alone as it includes course content, learners, teachers, teaching, assessments, school administrators, and other complex factors. I find that, currently, education narrowly focuses on the learner or only adopts the constructivist theory, which cannot improve the performance of all the students. The teacher’s ability to understand the characteristic of the student and tailor-make the developing plan for the student to strike a balance between the traditional and the opening education will be the key point for promoting the learner’s performance. The study result from this theory has been published in Science Education, the top American journal in the field of education. The reviewers praised the research result about “the gap between the ideal and real learning environment” as “the achievement beyond the last decades in this field." More than 8 papers from this series have been published in the SSCI journals, with 1/2 of them published in the top 30% of quality journals in the field of education.

Seeing that the government of Taiwan is determined to launch a 12-year compulsory education program, I thought a great deal about how to help students to apply the knowledge and skills they obtained during high school to their abilities to solve and explain real problems. Science educators often emphasize the evaluation of how to provide adequate scientific learning when they formulate a guideline for high school courses. Information technology is growing at an alarming speed. I believe that in the next decade, students will experience the effects of the tremendous information and communication overload; thus, educators will have to face the following problems: (1) Teaching knowledge might become less important, as the direction of education might turn to assisting the students in the handling of information and solving the problems with interdisciplinary abilities. (2) The purpose of the teacher training might be in response to this trend and turn to cultivate the teacher’s interdisciplinary ability and help students learn information management and problem-solving skills. As for the phenomenon mentioned above, I actively started to exchange related information with scholars at home and abroad in 2009.

In order to cultivate science literacy and the interdisciplinary ability to solve problems, we must first find out “what in our daily life will be related to the curriculum guidelines." By modifying the teaching method, which was solely focused on theory, we can instead direct teaching content into emphasizing the knowledge of our daily life; this process will assist students in solving real-life problems with interdisciplinary abilities. With this in mind, my research team developed a system to evaluate the science literacy of ordinary people with the SLiM (Scientific Literacy in Media) questionnaire. This questionnaire is designed with high-frequency scientific terms (found in Taiwanese media) selected from the database (scientific terms found in high school science textbooks) with informational automatic matching technology. The result of this research has been confirmed by a top 10% SSCI journal (Public Understanding of Science), and the details were published in Computers & Education in 2010; the development process and the pre-test results of the SLiM questionnaire were published in Understanding of Science (2021 SSCI IF = 3.702,2/48 in history & philosophy of science and 26/95 in communication) in 2012. The great gap between scientists and media professionals is one of the most challenging issues in science communication. The news media crews revealed that the scientific concepts were too hard to understand; they expressed that the content was difficult to present in a news/media format. Our study highlights the bridge role of science educators as a science communication link. This research was published in Science Communication (2021 SSCI, IF = 7.441,2/95 in Communication). Other follow-up studies are underway and in preparation for submissions. Scholars from abroad (such as the United States, Sweden, and mainland China) are interested in joining our research. I have applied to several cross-border cooperation projects (America NSF and Swedish Research Council (VR)). In the past five years, 8 papers of this research series were published in SSCI journals; 4 of them were collected by the top 20% of first-class journals in the field of education.

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) interdisciplinary education has been regarded as an important educational reform direction for cultivating students and human resources in the 21st century. However, since STEM education is an emerging international trend, empirical research is quite limited, and its validity remains controversial. In 2016, my research team collaborated with the Hanoi National University of Education in Vietnam and Kasetsart University in Thailand for a three and half year "New Southbound Policy Promotion Research Project.” This research project is a joint adventure to establish an international collaborative platform for educational research and practice. The platform enhanced the Taiwan-Thailand-Vietnam partnership and promoted the project's evidence-based STEM education research and practice framework to local schools among our partner countries and other New Southbound countries (such as Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore). In 2020, the latest research results were published in the internationally renowned journal “International Journal of STEM Education”. Moreover, I was privileged to host the “4th International Annual Meeting on STEM Education” at the National Museum of Marine Science and Technology in Keelung, Taiwan. A total of 185 participants from 13 countries attended the conference either in person or online and presented 140 research articles.

My research team’s exploration is mapping out steps toward a new future for science learning; my dream is to help break the current boundaries of science education in mathematics, physics, chemistry, and earth science. While our honor is that the preliminary results have been affirmed by the Academic Awards of the Ministry of Education and the Outstanding Research Award of NSTC, this new future requires the joint effort of all scholars/teachers interested in interdisciplinary integrating concepts. Based not only on individual effort but through the support of our researchers, teachers, people, and country, let us strive together toward our ultimate goal of promoting public scientific literacy.