VU’s block model: so far so (very) good

With the model extending across all UG, plus PG, courses the university brought in independent experts to assess what has been, and needs to be, done

Veteran curriculum experts Denise Chalmers, Elizabeth Deane and Alfred Lizzio report to VU in what is less a report than a product manual on how the model works and adjustments now needed to serve a way-bigger audience than the original first-years it was introduced to serve.

And while they advise on work that is needed they write in the context of VU’s extraordinary achievement so far, not just to create a new model of teaching and learning but one which perhaps, saved the institution, which was out of touch with the learning needs of first in family HE students in Melbourne’s west. “The university was not flourishing, with low levels of student retention and satisfaction,” Chalmers, Dean and Lizzio write

The block model consists of short subjects which students study one at a time. (Trish McCluskey and Ian Solomonides wrote about it in CMM, February 2 2020).

And it has worked.

“There is much to be celebrated in the success of the university in achieving in such a short timeframe a whole of university change to almost every aspect of the way in which teaching and learning is offered … this has been an extraordinary achievement and the institution, its staff and students are justified in feeling proud of what they have done,” they suggest.

But to keep up momentum, VU needs to address and invest, in five broad areas,

* benchmarking teaching and student outcomes against other providers that do or don’t have a block model

* embed the model as VU-normal in resourcing and organising

* continual course and development and review of UG courses

* keeping the application of the model current

* assessing workload impact for continuing and sessional staff