Connected Learning administer an expedited ethics approval process for Tertiary Education research-related projects.

This list compiles some details on approved projects, where the authors have agreed for the project details to be shared.

VU Block Model

Researchers: Trudy Ambler, Ian Solomonides, and Andrew Smallridge

Title: Exploring the features of the block mode approach to curriculum at Victoria University (VU) that make a positive contribution to learning and teaching in the First Year College (FYC)

Aims: To explore student and staff experiences of the ‘Block Mode’ approach to teaching and learning in the First Year College (FYC) at Victoria University (VU). To evaluate the features of the block mode approach to teaching and learning that make a positive contribution to the overall learning experience for students and staff.

Researchers: Daniel Loton, Cameron Stein, Marianne Samulis, Kaye Cleary, Gayani Samarawickrema, Sally Gauci

Title: Quantifying first-year block curricula: charting changes in learning outcomes, assessment tasks, student output, and their relationships with student assessment outcomes.

Aims: This study will use existing institutional data to examine characteristics of block curricula, particularly what had changed when units are redesigned from traditional units to block delivery.

Researchers: Daniel Loton, Maxwell Winchester

Title: The Effect of the Block: Establishing the uplifting effect of the block using advanced statistics

Aims: This project will apply HLM and ML-SEM to VU institutional data to compare first-year commencing students outcomes in Semester 1 of 2017 to Semester 1 of 2018, in order to account for the nested nature, and test whether the model holds across different student subgroups.

Researcher: Gabriele Sorrentino

Title: Delivering a single unit in block mode to students who have completed a semester of four concurrent units

Aims:

  1. Qualitative analysis of student’s perceptions of block mode delivery after experiencing the traditional delivery in semester 2, 2017.
  2. Compare student’s perceptions of block mode delivery between the abovementioned students to those that have only experience the block mode delivery for the same unit (NEF1201) in Semester 2, 2018.

Researchers: Rudi Klein, Kate Kelly, Puspha Sinnayah and Maxwell Winchester

Title: Repeating Students’ Perceptions of The First-Year Model

Aims: To understand comparative perceptions of the traditional teaching model with the FYM by asking repeating students who have experienced both models their perceptions.

Researchers: Kathleen Raponi, Gayani Samarawickrema

Title: Evaluation of the Block Mode Delivery of BLB1101 Australian Legal System in Context

Aims: To identify the strengths and weaknesses of the design structure and to explore the impact on the learners undertaking the unit and the academics delivering the unit.

Researchers: Gayani Samarawickrema, Tristan Galloway, Kathleen Raponi

Title: Participatory evaluation of the block mode design of the First Year of the LLB

Aims: To critically reflect on the experiences and lessons learned in the design of the block delivery of the First Year units of the Bachelor of Laws degree, to inform improvements t­o the delivery of the units.

Researchers: Jen Jackson, Kathy Tangalakis, Zoran Endekov, Peter Hurley, Ian Solomindes, Peter Noonan

Title: Inside the Black Box of the Block Model: First-Year STEM

Aims: This research will examine why Victoria University’s (VU) Block Model is delivering better outcomes for first-year students. Focussing on equity group students undertaking STEM related units, this research will utilise a mixed method approach to investigate how aspects of the Block Model have changed teaching and learning experiences and improved students’ outcomes.

Researchers: Kaye Cleary, Gayani Samarawickrema, Michelle Prawer, Olga Gavrilenko, Bruce Herbert, Daniel Loton

Title: Effects of the Block as an innovative pedagogical approach - extending connections: professional learning for staff, student engagement and student results

Aims: To investigate the impact of being a student in an innovative mode of study. In particular, the study will investigate (1) the incidental professional learning that occurs, and the extent that this experience prompts changes in practice, and how it might affect the collaboration and student engagement of ‘regular’ students in this innovative mode of study; and (2) factors that influence student engagement in and intensive mode of study.

First Year Model & First Year Learning

Researcher: Edward Lock

Title: Constructing the First Year College: An analysis of organisational change at Victoria University, 2016-2019

Aims: The project aims to:

  • gather stake-holders' narratives regarding the emergence of the FYC
  • compare and contrast these narratives in order to map the relationships of complementarity and tension that exist between them
  • generate a polyvocal and complex account of this important instance of organisational change in higher education.

Researcher: Trudy Ambler

Title: Professional Learning – Needs Assessment

Aims: In the context of the new block mode approach to learning and teaching in the FYC this small-scale research project aims to:

  • help educators working in the FYC increase their understandings about the nature of professional learning and its role in their development as an educator
  • assess what individual staff perceive to be their professional learning needs in relation to more collaborative, interactive, inquiry-led and problem-based approaches to learning and teaching in the FYC
  • identify any themes across the professional learning needs identified by educators in the FYC, so that opportunities for professional learning can be appropriately planned and resourced.

Researchers: Edward Lock, Lannie O'Keefe, Thomas Yeagar

Title: Fit for purposes? Evaluating the success of transition-focused teaching under Victoria University’s First Year Model

Aims: The project aims to:

  • identify and categorise the motivations, hopes and fears of students who have enrolled in a range of courses at Victoria University
  • evaluate the extent to which VU courses respond successfully to the most commonly identified motivations, hopes and fears of their respective students, and;
  • identify where – in which units – the most commonly identified expectations are most effectively responded to in such courses.

Researchers: Mengbi Li & Kaye Cleary

Title: Career Identification by First Year Building Students

Aims: To determine the efficacy of these initiatives in engaging students to consider, consolidate or clarify career aspirations.

Researchers: Kate Kelly & Edward Lock

Title: Improving Employability Teaching Under Block Mode Delivery: An Evaluation of Students’ Expectations About and Experiences of Employability Teaching in Higher Education

Aim: To investigate how VU students can best be empowered to achieve success in a knowledge society.

Remote or Online Learning & Teaching

Researcher: Kate Kelly

Title: Investigating the Effectiveness of Online Teaching for a Practical Based Communications Unit: A Comparison Between Face to Face Teaching and Remote Learning

Aims: To investigate overall grades and student experience for those completing a practical based communications unit online in comparison to those who completed it face to face

Researchers: Trish McCluskey, Kaye Cleary, Gayani Samarawickrema, Dan Loton, Tomas Krcho, Michael Sturmey

Title: The experience of transition to remote learning in VU Higher Education: Educator perspectives

Aims: To Investigate staff experiences of the transition to remote delivery and the major factors that facilitated or hindered the transition, including:

  • prior experience with blended or online learning, including relating to the introduction of the block model
  • curriculum design and teaching approaches applied
  • training and professional development

Researchers: Kathleen Raponi, Gayani Samarawickrema

Title: Evaluation of Online Teaching in First Year Law Units

Aims: To investigate this online and remote delivery four-week offer of a Bachelor of Laws, Legal Service or Criminal Justice course to:

  • identify the strengths and weaknesses of online and remote delivery and;
  • explore the impact on the learners undertaking the unit and the academics delivering the unit.

Student Attrition

Researchers: Dr Daniel Loton & Cameron Stein

Title: Ghost Students in the Block: Exploring the characteristics, study intentions, reasons for non-engagement, and institutional responses, to commencing students who remain enrolled but do not participate in the VU First Year Model

Aims:

  • Identify ghost students in the cohort of commencing 2018 students at VU.
  • Utilise institutional data to understand their origin/pathways, characteristics, study choices, and where available from retention efforts, reasons for non-engagement and attrition.
  • Survey a sub-group of these students to further explore pathways, study intentions, reasons for non-engagement and perceptions of appropriate institutional responses.
  • Further a policy debate on the topic, by publishing results in a policy-oriented peer-reviewed journal, detailing a case study of how one institution is understanding and responding to this phenomenon.

Researchers: Cameron Stein & Dr Daniel Loton

Title: Blocked In: Predicting and preventing attrition in the VU block model

Aims: To publish the development and results of statistical models that utilise big-data within VU to predict student failure and attrition in the block model; and the efforts of VU to intervene and support student success.

Researchers: Cameron Stein & Dr Daniel Loton

Title: A text-message based intervention to encourage engagement or withdrawal for students at-risk of failure

Aims: To determine whether a simple SMS-based informational intervention alter student behaviour with respect to enrolment choice or educational engagement.

Teaching Modes & Strategies

Researchers: Puspha Sinnayah, Elizabeth Verghese, Sean Yan, Lucy Lu, Sally Gauci, Gayelene Boarman, Sharon Andrew

Title: An evaluation of different online and f2f strategies in a blended/active learning design to improve student engagement in Second Year Pathophysiology nursing and review of student transition from First Year Physiology to Second Year Pathophysiology units

Aims: To evaluate the effectiveness learning activities and Blended Learning/Active Learning implemented in block mode on the quality of student experience and staff capacity.

Researchers: Nicholas Tripodi & Maja Husaric

Title: First-year osteopathic students use and perceptions of Video-Based Learning (VBL) in a block-mode delivery’

Aims: Osteopathic students have previously reported positive experiences with VBL in a traditional semester model. It is the investigators aim to discover how these perceptions compare to students utilising the same VBL strategies in a block-mode format.

Researcher: Frances O’neil

Title: An investigation into the use of ‘required textbooks’ (print or e-book) in FYC block units.

Aims:

  • Ascertain the extent to which ‘required’ textbooks are listed in FY unit guides/spaces within VU Collaborate in 2018 and provide base-line information about what is happening and why, regarding the use of ‘required’ textbooks (either print or electronic) within the FYC.
  • Compare use of textbooks within the FYC with the use of textbooks at other institutions that use the block model such as Colorado Springs College, University of Montana Western and Quest University, where possible.
  • Provide a literature review and conceptual (educational) framework around the purpose and efficacy of textbooks in student learning.

Researchers: Nicholas Tripodi, Ms Rebecca Wospil, Ms Kylie Fitzgerald

Title: Developing feedback literacy in first-year students

Aims: To develop learner’s: Understanding of the role of feedback in their development; Appreciation of what effective, quality feedback is; Understanding of when they are receiving feedback; Understanding of how to utilise feedback; and Capability to provide feedback to their peers that is constructive and actionable.

Researcher: Steven O’Bryan

Title: Quantifying student learning within the ‘zone of proximal development’: Application in an accelerated program.

Aims: To develop a novel method of assessing student learning in the zone of proximal development and apply it to an accelerated program.

Researchers: Kirsten Black, Sally Gauci, Karina Ireland

Title: Simulation-based learning using a silicone Episiotomy Simulation Tool for undergraduate midwifery students.

Aims: To introduce an affordable, validated and anatomically correct silicone model for the practice of episiotomy for undergraduate student midwives. The study also aims to determine to what extent the Episiotomy Simulation Tool can be used in intensive (block) mode delivery.

Researchers: Puspha Sinnayah, Elizabeth Verghese, Sean Yan, Lucy Lu, Sally Gauci, Gayelene Boarman, Sharon Andrew

Title: An evaluation of different online and f2f strategies in a blended/active learning design to improve student engagement in Second Year Pathophysiology nursing and review of student transition from First Year Physiology to Second Year Pathophysiology units

Aims: To evaluate the effectiveness learning activities and Blended Learning/Active Learning implemented in block mode on the quality of student experience and staff capacity.

Researchers: Susan Irvine & Kathy Tangalakis

Title: An exploratory study of undergraduate nursing students' experiences of group work

Aims: The project aims to:

  • explore FYC VU undergraduate nursing students’ experiences of group work and the functioning of the group
  • utilise the analysis of student perceptions of group work, to provide outcomes to effect change in learning and teaching of group work within the nursing curriculum
  • build effective collaborative teams in preparation for future years of the degree and the nursing profession and more generally in other university teaching and learning contexts.

Researcher: Maxwell Winchester

Title: An investigation of teaching format – does it influence class results and Student Evaluations?

Aims: To assess the success of changes to the teaching format of Introduction to Marketing (BHO1171) over recent years (including transition to block mode in FYC) and the effects of these changes on SEU and average grades achieved.

Researchers: Maxwell Winchester & Puspha Sinnayah

Title: An investigation of class results and Student Evaluations: investigating the effects of the teaching delivery changes

Aims: To assess the success of changes to the teaching format of various FYC units over recent years (including transition to block mode in FYC) and the effects of these changes on SEU, average class results achieved and completion rates.

Anatomy & Physiology

Researchers: Nicholas Tripodi, Maja Husaric, Kate Kelly, Rebecca Wospil, Susan Johnston, Katherine Harkin, and Michael Fleischmann

Title: First-year students use and perceptions of three-dimensional printed (3DP) models as a predictor of success in anatomical assessment

Aims: To find out if the inclusion of three-dimensional printed (3DP) models in anatomy classes decreases first-year students perceived anxiety and enhances perceived anatomical confidence and performance in assessments.

Researchers: Rebecca Wospil, Nicholas Tripodi, Susan Johnston, Maja Husaric, Loretta Konjarski, Katherine Harkin

Title: First-year students perceptions of near-peer teaching using 3D printed anatomical models

Aims: The project aims to evaluate:

  • first-year student perceptions of a near-peer teaching activity using 3D printed anatomical models
  • the effect of the learning activity on the students’ perceived preparedness for their final oral assessment
  • the effect of the learning activity on the students’ perceived broader communication skills.

Researchers: Puspha Sinnayah, Rudi Klein, Gayathri Rajaraman, Sally Gauci

Title: An evaluation of different online and f2f strategies in a blended/active learning design to improve student engagement in Anatomy and Physiology

Aims: This project will evaluate the changes made to the online and face to face (f2f) mode by comparing 2017 units versus units converted to block mode for the FYC in 2018.

Researchers: Puspha Sinnayah, Rudi Klein, Gayathri Rajaraman, Maxwell Winchester, Kate Kelly, Suzanne Poliness

Title: Evaluating Anatomy support programs in their effectiveness in improving students’ engagement and learning during class time and their final outcomes in Functional Anatomy of the Trunk and Functional Anatomy of the Limbs.

Aims: The project aims to answer whether the use of OLASPs:

  • within the FYC block mode enriches the quality of student experience and engagement during class time
  • promotes active learning during class time
  • improves students' final grades within the FYC block mode.

Other projects

Researchers: Alison Ruth & Sally Gauci

Title: Exploring academic identity and fragmentation in the Block Model

Aims: To explore how disciplinary academics negotiate their identity as academics while participating in a university wide curriculum transformation – the Block Model. Academic identity is bound up in the way disciplinary academics enact their knowledge in teaching and learning environments. We will explore the ways that concentrating teaching into the block shifts the reflective practices that academics have traditionally employed.

Researchers: Tomas Krcho & Nikola Kalamir

Title: Educator’s View: Barriers, Challenges and Opportunities in Designing and Implementing Authentic Assessment on the VU Block

Aims: To reveal what Academic Staff at VU consider to be authentic assessment tasks and how these assumptions align with the exiting literature. It will further investigate what barriers, challenges, and opportunities academics experience in designing and implementing authentic assessment tasks in a 4-week Block delivery.

Researchers: Gayani Samarawickrema & Olga Gavrilenko

Title: Immersive professional learning in peer review using FeedbackFruits: A pilot study

Aims: To explore potential professional learning enabled by using FeedbackFruits for peer review and feedback in a summative assessment in AET4002 in the Graduate Certificate in Tertiary Education.

Researchers: Sidney Adams & Effy George

Title: Student perceptions of the environment

Aims: The project aims to:

  • investigate the significance of the natural world to students at a time when environmental considerations are at the forefront of public policy and community concern
  • contribute to the growing body of literature concerned with younger people’s attitudes to the environment
  • enhance student engagement through gaining an understanding of student priorities, concerns, and interests.

This will be for the purpose of incorporating findings into teaching practice and the development of unit curriculum.