In 2019, after many years of lower than sector average student success and retention rates, Southern Cross University committed to a whole of institution curriculum reform, through revolutionising our educational delivery model. The Southern Cross Model (SCM) riffs off a pedagogical approach known as the block model or immersive scheduling.

So, has the SCM made a difference to our students? We compared student success rates of enabling and undergraduate units delivered in our traditional trimester model in pre-pandemic 2019 (62.5 per cent) with those same units delivered in the 2021 pilot of the SCM (79.7 per cent) and found a 17.2 per cent increase. We also compared success rates in units from our old trimester Bachelor of Business (67.6 per cent) with our new immersive Bachelor of Business and Enterprise units (86.8 per cent) and saw a 19.2 per cent increase.

We looked at the success rate data from several perspectives. In a 2022 report, we show that the changes in success rates were significant for commencing and continuing students, online and on-campus students, and for domestic students. For international students we aren’t so sure. Due to closed borders, we had very few in the pilot year.

Emerging evidence suggests these models not only help most students, they also bring particular benefit to those from underrepresented groups, such as from non-English-speaking backgrounds, low socio-economic status areas, and first in family.

People often worry about whether block models provide good learning experiences for students. Feedback tells us they do. In the SCM’s pilot year, the overall unit satisfaction mean was 4.29/5, and overall teaching satisfaction was 4.38/5. In the first half of 2022, when most faculties and colleges were teaching in the SCM, this encouraging trend was seen again. Those international students who experienced the SCM, tell us they liked it. Through our Student Feedback Survey, overall teaching satisfaction was 83 per cent – slightly higher than in pre-pandemic years.

Our findings suggest that block models and immersive scheduling certainly make a positive difference to student success. As students have said of the SCM: ‘…. I have the time to focus on my subjects and not feel like I’m juggling’.


Professor Thomas Roche, Pro Vice Chancellor (Academic Quality), Academic Portfolio Office, Southern Cross University [email protected]

Professor Erica Wilson, Pro Vice Chancellor (Academic Innovation), Academic Portfolio Office, Southern Cross University [email protected] @erica_scu

Dr Liz Goode, Academic Portfolio Office; SCU College, Southern Cross University [email protected] @LizSGoode



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