Special issue


A recent overview and brief history of intensive modes of learning and teaching in higher education is presented, with implications for the design, application, impact, governance, and regulation of intensive mode teaching and learning. Previously limited to particular levels of study, or locations in the academic year, intensive modes as new forms of system-wide curriculum and organisation challenge the isomorphism of traditional, symmetrised organisations, while also being able to expand or complement conventional higher education. However, in whole-of-institution intensive mode settings, the importance of systematic awareness and application in adopting and sustaining intensive modes is highlighted, including the need to consider various process variables and pedagogic factors that may impact student learning. Prior research into correlations between these process dimension variables and learning gains offers some insights into the high-impact educational practices that are most likely to improve the quality of student learning outcomes − whether in intensive mode or otherwise. Systemic change requires careful planning, faculty development, and evolving assessment methodologies to ensure the success of intensive mode teaching and learning. Further research in areas such as change management, economics, graduate capabilities, pedagogies, wellness, equity, lifelong learning, and institutional responses would build a more robust evidence base for intensive modes of learning and teaching.

Practitioner Notes

  1. In their modern forms, intensive modes of teaching offer challenges and opportunities for improving student learning outcomes.
  2. Intensive modes operate within complex institutional systems that have a number of internal and external forces acting upon them.
  3. Ensuring that intensive modes remain dynamic and contextualised to local environments optimises outcomes.
  4. Process dimension variables are particularly important, ideally adopted through systematic and systemic incorporation.
  5. Intensive modes are imagined and enacted in a number of ways, and further research and cross-institutional studies on intensive modes are encouraged.