Students’ experiences of a first-year block model curriculum in higher education

Ambler, Trudy ORCID: 0000-0003-2654-6274, Solomonides, Ian ORCID: 0000-0002-6559-9697 and Smallridge, Andrew ORCID: 0000-0001-6645-760X (2021) Students’ experiences of a first-year block model curriculum in higher education. Curriculum Journal, 32 (3). pp. 533-558. ISSN 0958-5176


The first year in Higher Education (HE) is an international priority because of its importance to the retention of students. While initiatives to improve students’ commencing experience continue to develop one area that has received limited consideration is the first-year curriculum. The aim of the research reported in this paper was to enhance the student experience in HE by expanding understandings of the first-year curriculum. Focus groups and an online questionnaire were the research methods used to, explore students’ experiences of learning in a newly developed First-Year Block Model (FYBM) curriculum, implemented at a university in Australia. Findings from the research revealed that features in the design of the FYBM framed and permeated the students’ experiences of learning. The students explained that a sense of familiarity, curriculum leadership, teaching and teachers and curriculum customisation influenced their engagement and achievements. The study highlights that HE requires staff who possess deep knowledge and expertise in the first-year curriculum because this valuable asset can positively influence student learning and success.

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Item type Article
DOI 10.1002/curj.103
Official URL
Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 3901 Curriculum and pedagogy
Current > Division/Research > First Year College
Keywords curriculum, first- year curriculum, first- year students, higher education
Citations in Scopus 4 - View on Scopus
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