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Supporting academic staff in the tectonic shift to Block Mode

Tuesday 2 July: Pre-conference parallel workshop, 1:30pm – 4:30pm



Room 206-215



Kaye Cleary
Victoria University, Australia

Trish McCluskey
Victoria University, Australia

Gayani Samarawickrema
Victoria University, Australia

Sally Gauci
Victoria University, Australia


Presentation type

Pre-conference workshop


Overview of workshop

In 2018, Victoria University (VU) implemented the Block Model for first year students. VU completely changed the way students learn, from a traditional semester model, to studying one unit at a time for four weeks with no lectures or tutorials, and a strong focus on active learning. The results indicate that:

  • Average pass rates increased substantially whilst maintaining assessment standards
  • Significant increase in retention; and
  • Noticeably more students achieving higher grades.

This workshop shares results and explores the principles, programs and processes that support academics to achieve these outcomes.


Target audience

Higher education staff, including learning designers, educational developers, academics as well as learning and teaching leadership. Those with a curious and open mindset, focused on high quality student centred learning will benefit from this workshop.


Intended outcomes for participants

By the end of the session participants will:

  • gain an insight into how a deliberately constructed and multifaceted team can collaborate to redesign engaging student learning experiences;
  • appreciate how explicit design for active learning approaches contribute to a successful learning experience;
  • explore key factors that impede the disruption of traditional higher education;
  • identify key knowledge, skills and dispositions that amplify teaching success in the Block model;
  • examine a variety of contextualised capability building techniques for academics;
  • experience a unit redesign process; and
  • critique assessment design for learning in the Block model.


Outline of activities

In this workshop we will unpack and analyse changes to curriculum, pedagogy and assessment for Block model teaching. We will also explore the implications of these changes for professional learning. Through interactive small group activities we will examine how these may be applied to your context.



McCluskey, T., Weldon, J., & Smallridge, A. (2019). Re-building the first year experience, one block at a time. Student Success, 10(1), 1-15.

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