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Guided self- directed learning in intensive block mode improves student outcomes in first year Physiology

Wednesday 3 July: Conference day one, 2:00pm – 2:30pm parallel session



Room 10 – 303-B07 Sem



Dr Sally Gauci
Victoria University, Australia

Dr Gayathri Rajaraman
Victoria University, Australia

Dr Rudi Klein
Victoria University, Australia

Kostas Kastis
Victoria University, Australia

Dr Suneeti Rekhari
RMIT University, Australia

Dr Puspha Sinnayah
Victoria University, Australia



Victoria University launched an intensive delivery mode for all first year units in 2018 (McCluskey, Weldon, & Smallridge, 2019). Students studied one unit at a time over four weeks, with units consisting of three workshops (three hours each), two labs (two hours each) and a computer lab (supported by a facilitator) each week, and with no lectures. The design principles included a blended approach combining pre- and post- class technology-enhanced online learning activities supported by face to face workshops involving small team based guided inquiry learning (active learning).

Whilst foundational Anatomy and Physiology (A&P) knowledge is integral to all health courses, first year students often struggle with the volume and complexity of the concepts. Furthermore, the typical demographic profile consists of mature age students who have a limited Science background.

In health science education, there is a rich body of literature that supports the use of technology-enhanced learning such as digital interactives, along with the importance of self-directed study in blended approaches to learning (Nicol, 2006). Less is known about the use of technology-enhanced learning activities to promote self-directed learning in intensive mode. To this end, we have designed and delivered a range of blended learning activities including H5P digital interactives, formative quizzes and vodcasts that are constructively aligned to learning outcomes and assessments (Biggs, 2014) with embedded feedback. We have utilised surveys, focus groups, student grades and learning analytics to evaluate student outcomes including engagement and the success of this approach. Preliminary results indicate that providing students with the opportunity to use a range of blended technology-enhanced learning activities promotes self-directed learning. Students valued the learning activities and we have shown an increase in student engagement and improved student outcomes. The findings of this study will help to inform future design of blended learning units in intensive mode and impact on student learning.



Biggs, J. (2014). Constructive alignment in university teaching. HERDSA Review of higher education1(5), 5-22.
McCluskey, T., Weldon, J., & Smallridge, A. (2019). Re-building the first year experience, one block at a time. Student Success10(1), 1-15.
Nicol, D.J., Macfarlane-Dick, D. (2006). Formative assessment and self-regulated learning: a model and seven principles of good feedback practice. Studies in Higher Education, 31 (2), 199–218.


Presentation topic

Students – Learning

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