Skip to main content Skip to main navigation menu Skip to site footer

Re-building the first year experience, one block at a time


For many years, universities around the world have been developing and enhancing the First Year Experience (FYE), with a view to improving retention, performance and student satisfaction.  This feature practice report outlines a strategic initiative, launched in 2018 at Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia that aims to transform the experience of Victoria University’s first-year students on an unprecedented scale. This unique model reconceptualises the design, structure and delivery of first year units of study in order to deliver a program that deliberately focuses on students’ pedagogical, transition and work/life balance needs.  This initiative required the disruption and redevelopment of all university systems to ensure students experience a supportive and seamless transition into, and journey through, their first year of study at university.

Published: 2019-03-07
Pages:1 to 15
Section:Feature Practice Report
How to Cite
McCluskey, T., Weldon, J., & Smallridge, A. (2019). Re-building the first year experience, one block at a time. Student Success, 10(1), 1-15.

Author Biographies

Trish McCluskey is the Director of Connected Learning at Victoria University where she works with a talented team of learning designers to create innovative curriculum resources and support academic staff to develop contemporary learning and teaching practices. She was instrumental in the design and development of the VU Block Model, a radical reconceptualization of the traditional university curriculum.  

Victoria University
Australia Australia

Dr John Weldon has lectured in Journalism, Communications, and Professional and Creative writing at CAE, Victoria University and Quest University in Canada since the early 2000s. He is a published novelist and has worked as a sports reporter, features writer, columnist, blogger, reviewer, script writer, and media and communications manager for The Age, The Western Times, The Western Bulldogs, The ABC and many other organisations and publications Australia wide. He currently holds the position of Head of Curriculum in Victoria University’s First Year College.

Victoria University
Australia Australia

Professor Andrew Smallridge is an organic chemist who has been teaching Chemistry across all levels at Victoria University for nearly 30 years. He has interests in the analytical and synthetic chemistry as well as the use of laboratory-based workshop methodologies for teaching chemistry and other science disciplines. He is currently Dean of Victoria University’s First Year College.

Open Access Journal
ISSN 2205-0795