Curriculum and assessment design


Intensive mode delivery (IMD) of subjects and courses offer a flexible option for today’s diverse student body, many of whom juggle work and carer responsibilities alongside study. However, little focus has been placed on the detailed design of IMD for different teaching roles. Responding to a call for science specific data, we investigated students’ and staff perceptions of learning and teaching in IMD undergraduate science subjects. Using data collected via student surveys and teacher interviews, we present our findings through the transition pedagogy framework which will help learning designers and teachers make quality design decisions. We found students and staff identified positive aspects of IMD, such as accelerating progression, high engagement, and smaller class size. The challenges with IMD include the intensity associated with workload. In most subjects, student attainment was higher in IMD compared to standard delivery over a semester. By comparing the perceptions to achievements, we examine the implications for designing positive and effective student learning experiences for IMD in science subjects.

Practitioner Notes

  1. Institutions need to invest time and resources into supporting staff to redesign their units for intensive mode delivery (IMD) – you cannot simply transpose from a standard mode to IMD.
  2. Undergraduate science students’ grade distributions display complex relationships but are significantly different for IMD compared to standard mode.
  3. Intensive mode assessment design needs to acknowledge that students often choose to study in this mode to accelerate their degree program.
  4. Smaller class sizes are associated with IMD and staff can leverage this to create more personal engagement opportunities with students.
  5. We provide a set of practical guidelines for both the lecturer and the tutor specifically for the design and delivery of IMD subjects in the sciences.

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