Victoria University has unveiled a bold plan to place all of its vocational and higher education courses into ‘Block Mode’ by 2022.
The trailblazing education approach, known as The VU Way, sees students study intensively in four-week blocks, rather than doing several different subjects at once, as the centrepiece of the university’s new approach to learning and teaching.
Under The VU Way large, impersonal lectures and passive learning in semester-long units of study are replaced by small groups engaged in block mode learning.
Often used in vocational and sometimes in postgraduate education, this approach has been largely absent in undergraduate higher education in Australia.
The VU Way has already been adopted for all first-year undergraduate higher-education programs at Victoria University and has had a "transformative” impact on learner engagement, student retention and student success. The block mode is being extended to second-year courses in 2019.
Victoria University Vice Chancellor Professor Peter Dawkins describes the The VU Way as the "new way to do uni” and a “future blueprint for universities that provide a combination of vocational and higher-education learning”.
“The Block Mode is a truly student-centric, student-success led model,” Professor Dawkins said.
“It sets VU apart from other institutions.
“It offers a unique and empowering learning experience, which gives our students every chance to succeed on their terms, during and after study.
“By increasing the flexibility with which students can mix and match their units of study, the block enables students to gain vocational or higher education credentials concurrently or in a sequence, in a true cross-university setting.
“The VU Way fulfils our vision of creating opportunity and success for any student from any background,” he said.
There are early promising signs that student engagement and student success at VU are being positively and significantly impacted by the new mode of teaching.
Using equivalent standards and, in some cases, identical assessment items, comparative data between 2017 (pre-block mode) and 2018 when the block mode was introduced show the following improvements:
- Overall pass rates were up 7.9 percentage points to 83.9%
- Students receiving Distinction grades jumped 6.8 points to 26.7%, while High Distinctions jumped 6.6 points to 22.2%
- Pass rates for students from low socio-economic status backgrounds were up 15.3 points to 81.9%, with High Distinctions were up by 8.6 points to 18.7%
- Pass rates for Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander students were up 19 points to 79%, while High Distinctions were up 11.9 points to 23.3%
- Pass rates for students from non-English-speaking backgrounds were up 14.7 points to 82.1%, while High Distinctions were up 6.8 points to 15.6%
Victoria University was also one of only two institutions in Victoria to increase overall 2019 offers by two per cent, compared to a sector average of minus 10 per cent.
“It took less than nine months to plan, design and implement the Block Mode at Victoria University,” Professor Dawkins said.
"Interestingly, it took us a similar amount of time to decide that we would extend the block to second year courses and indeed all courses by 2022 as part of our new education plan, The VU Way.
“The positive results attributed to the block have so far exceeded our expectations and suggest that the University is on a winner.” ENDS
The VU Way is a document that outlines the rationale, impact and advantages of the Block Mode and engaged learning.
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