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Block Mode Study: Opportunities and Challenges for a New Generation of Learners in an Australian University


This article is an update on a university-wide overhaul of its pedagogy, curriculum and delivery to support the expanding non-traditional, new generation learners while enhancing opportunity and success for traditional learners. The Block Model developed by Victoria University (VU), Australia for its undergraduate cohort, was a bold response to support all students including its high proportion of First-in-family (FiF), low socio-economic status (LSES), and non-English-speaking background (NESB) students. In this radical new hybrid Block model, students study one unit/subject at a time over four weeks. The article reports on preliminary results after two years of implementing the VU Block Model. While both traditional and new-generation cohorts significantly improved their performance, there was a higher improvement in the pass rates of LSES, NESB and FiF students, compared to the improvements in the traditional cohorts of students. These initial results confirm the value of the institution-wide strategy to expand opportunity and enhance success for all.

Published: 2021-03-15
Pages:13 to 23

Author Biographies

Victoria University
Australia Australia

Dr Gayani Samarawickrema is a Senior Lecturer in Learning and Teaching in Connected Learning at Victoria University, Australia. She teaches into the Graduate Certificate of Tertiary Education and has research interests in the Scholarship of Learning and Teaching (SoTL) including assessment, learning and teaching in intensive modes of study.

Victoria University
Australia Australia

Kaye Cleary is the Associate Director for Improving Learning and Teaching in Connected Learning at Victoria University, Australia and has an ongoing interest in innovative and sustainable practices to widen participation in higher education; advocating hospitable ecosystems for “new generation learners” and “new generation academics” in the sector.

Open Access Journal
ISSN 2205-0795