Times Higher Education highlights Victoria University as global leader in block model teaching

As 2022 begins with Victoria University’s newest group of students embarking on a revolutionary way to study, the esteemed online publication Times Higher Education has featured VU as a global leader in block model teaching to its 30 million+ annual site visitors.

Reporter Anna McKie surveyed the growing number of institutions worldwide that have switched teaching from four subjects at once to one unit at a time for her article Is block teaching the future of university pedagogy?

First Year College inspired innovation

The article examines the positive results of block model teaching and the hard work behind setting it up – a process VU knows all too well after initially establishing the award-winning First Year College (FYC).

The FYC is Australia’s only college dedicated to guiding students to gain the skills, motivation and confidence to excel beyond first year as they make the well-recognised difficult transition to university, and is the catalyst for the VU Block Model.

VU Vice-Chancellor Professor Adam Shoemaker comments extensively in the article, detailing how the block model has been a transformational, long-term investment for VU, with a significant commitment to staff training and professional development of its educators.

Since VU was the first in the world to roll out this teaching model at scale starting in 2018, other institutions, such as the University of Suffolk in England, have turned to VU for inspiration and advice, the article noted.

After introducing the block model, VU student engagement, satisfaction, pass rates and employability have improved, and these successes have been widely recognised and rewarded.

Evidence of block model success

  • Prior to block teaching, about one-third of VU students either repeated or failed courses compared to about 9 per cent now. Professor Shoemaker noted this was despite the standard of assessment being just as rigorous, if not even more so, than before block model teaching.
  • Non-native English speakers, a category that includes international students and those from immigrant families, are thriving under the new model, with pass rates rising from 82 per cent in 2017 to 93 per cent in 2020, and 93.4 per cent in 2021. Results for students from low socio-economic backgrounds have also improved.
  • Block teaching has also enhanced the employability of VU students, with VU reaching number one in Australia’s national Employer Satisfaction Survey in 2020, which polls firms about their recent hires of university graduates.

Professor Shoemaker told the publication that the success of block teaching was most apparent during the pandemic, when student satisfaction scores barely dropped despite COVID-19 forcing students to undertake digital and remote learning.

Read the full article on the Times Higher Education website. (Registration required)

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