Jump to content
Yippee-Ki-Yay

What are the negatives of universities teaching in a block model?

Recommended Posts

Yippee-Ki-Yay

Can anyone help me understand what the negatives are in block model uni courses? For those who don’t know what they are (I didn’t until a little while ago), instead of teaching up to four units in any trimester, the block model teaches one unit at a time in block of four weeks per unit. 
 

The main issue I can think of is that it would be difficult to study anything less than a full study load. I mean, you could but rather than reducing the weekly study commitment, you would have weeks of full time study and weeks of breaks.

Are there other issues other have come across with this model?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Bono25

I haven't studied that way, but is it a full course load in 4 weeks?? That would be pretty full on. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Meepy

Some of my former students have gone to a uni which has gone to this model.  I have spoken to 4 of them and they really enjoy it.  They don’t have to worry about juggling multiple assignments/subjects and can concentrate on the one subject.

It doesn’t seem to increase contact hours too much e.g. if you are doing 4 subjects at 4 contact hours per week each, that is 16 hours per week.  If you do one subject that usually goes for 14 weeks @ 4 hours per week, that is 56 hours over 4 weeks,  equalling 14 hours per week.  Not sure how it works for part timers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
MsLaurie

I’ve done an “intensive” course previously (part of a masters though I never finished, oops)- we had several blocks of 2-4 days of solid classes, then weeks of nothing apart from an essay. It worked well for balancing work and study, as it suited my employer for me to take small chunks of leave for the classes, rather than, say, losing a day a week.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
-Belinda-

Many students study for the exam and then forget it all,  so like block teaching for this reason. Not saying that this is your reason! I believe that the evidence supports better learning when concepts are engaged with over a longer period of time... but don't ask me for the references as I don't have them to hand, sorry.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Dianalynch

I’ve looked at it too, and the downside was as you have pointed out not being able to study part time. I do like it when a uni offers 4 terms a year, 1 subject per term is part time, 2 is full time. I think the semester model should die, it’s pretty inflexible. 
 

id like a uni where I could start anytime and work at my own pace 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Bethlehem Babe

I’ve done one course as a block of teaching while part time. 
The part time part of it was only taking on 2 units rather than the full course load of 4. So nothing else changed. You still had the same number of lectures and assessments and everything due for each unit. 
 

Mine was a week long block. 
It was a full on week. It was 8-5 everyday and one night till 10pm. Each night I went home, tired, ate oats and had tea and then started the reading or studying for the assessments for the next day. Main meal became lunch. 
Loved it but it was full on. 
Then we had a take home exam due six weeks after the course. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
JRA

What an interesting concept. So instead of having lectures for 5 subjects over the week, only one?  God I would get bored with that. So for me, I would worry about just only concentrating on one thing it would be easy to just decide I have done 4 hours of this today, that is enough, but in fact that is what is needed.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
mumbag

While the block model will work well for some students, for others the value of being able to procrastinate about one subject by working on another is a viable way to get through study. Ask me how I know ... :)

I do like the idea of the shorter time frame to complete a single unit though - would be great for those units resulting from poor elective/pre-req planning, where you have to do a whole semester for the last unit of your degree.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
JRA

A silly question, does is mean they have every 4 weeks, instead of end of semester?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
lizzzard

I don't know much about university education but there is alot of research that shows distributed presentation of related material (especially when interspersed with unrelated information) aids acquisition of new information (I did my masters research on a related topic).  This would be one argument against a block model?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
littlepickle

I have completed a postgraduate certificate of 4 units and all were 'intensive'

5 days of 8-4pm delivered Monday to Friday -  lectures, group work, interactive sessions etc to complete the contact component of the course. The following 8- 11 weeks to submit the assignments +/- exam. I completed the 4 over two years - 1st trimester and 3rd trimester.

This was perfect for me as I was able to hear the 'real life' industry experience and then match that to the theories / readings required in the unit.

I would love to go back and complete the remaining 8 units for my MBA but at $4000 a unit it's really expensive. I would also only complete those units that were offered in an intensive format as it really suits my learning style.

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
SeaPrincess
On 25/06/2020 at 4:36 PM, -Belinda- said:

Many students study for the exam and then forget it all,  so like block teaching for this reason. Not saying that this is your reason! I believe that the evidence supports better learning when concepts are engaged with over a longer period of time... but don't ask me for the references as I don't have them to hand, sorry.

Also no references to hand, but I was going to say that it supports, maybe even promotes, a cram and forget style of learning.
Anecdotally, I have done a few intensive units as part of my course and I remember very little compared with the ones that I’ve done over a longer period.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sugarplum Poobah

I worked for a uni for a long time...

It's been a mode of study for quite some time -- it started off as summer subjects in a lot of cases. 

It allows you to get a unit out of the way quickly, but you have to be able to commit to it over that time in a more intensive manner. There's less opportunity to mull things over.  It also doesn't allow you to have as much meaningful interaction with your fellow students.  Which is important in terms of discussing and developing ideas. 

It's related to online learning in terms of engagement and outcomes -- neither is optimum.  But very useful if you are committed and can be certain that you can be on board 100% for the limited delivery period.

If you're the kind of person who likes to get things done and dusted quickly then it has advantages. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
foofoo

I have just commenced MBA units which are delivered in blocks.  I don't have a lot of experience yet so am interested in hearing about other peoples experiences as well.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Yippee-Ki-Yay

Thanks. Lots of interesting information. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
onetrick

I worry about the model for people who cant have uni as the centre of their world- are lecture/ class times changing every 4 weeks? How would that go for people who have regular shifts? What about sickness? 

From my ex students I understand that at the uni thay does this in Victoria, they have some blocks where the assignment is due later and others where the assignment is due while the block is still going, so they still end up with multiple assignments at once. But it's still evolving so in a more established institution I wouldnt have so many concerns :)

I do think it would really depend on the course itself as to how well it would work- if subjects were similar or had overlap (I guess like in my education degree?), it would be ok. For the science part of my degree I would have hated it- I needed that fun subject each week to balance the more intense core subjects.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Yippee-Ki-Yay

Interesting. So I have done some reading and you can nominate any combination of timetables (all morning classes, some morning some early afternoon etc). The study load requires 3 three hour classes per week with the rest of the learning to be self directed in accordance with the task requirements. It appears the model is mandatory for all 1st year students and then becomes optional.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
jojonbeanie
17 hours ago, JRA said:

What an interesting concept. So instead of having lectures for 5 subjects over the week, only one?  God I would get bored with that. So for me, I would worry about just only concentrating on one thing it would be easy to just decide I have done 4 hours of this today, that is enough, but in fact that is what is needed.  

It’s how they do courses now at Victoria University and it’s been an overwhelming success in terms of increased student satisfaction scores, increased participation, fewer drop outs, and increased pass rates. Students generally love it and it gives the teaching staff greater opportunities to present deeper learning experiences. 

You can absolutely study part-time as the units are offered multiple times a year and in a range of timeslots. This gives the student more control over their timetable and works well for part-time students because it gives them greater flexibility to choose whole days off uni and therefore increases their availability for work on regular, predictable days.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Announcements

×
×
  • Create New...