Special issue


Despite growing interest in immersive block models in higher education, very little is known about the experiences of international students in these non-traditional forms of learning. To enable an initial view of how international students perceive and perform in an immersive block model, we used an exploratory mixed methods approach to examine the academic success, satisfaction, and experiences of international students in a 6-week immersive block model at a regional public Australian university. Inferential statistical tests were used to explore the success rates and unit and teaching satisfaction of onshore and offshore international students in the immersive block model and in the traditional trimester model. Overall, the immersive block model made a significant positive difference to the academic success of international students, both onshore and offshore. However, a decline in satisfaction was observed among science and engineering students, contrasting with an increase in satisfaction among business and arts students. Data collected through semi-guided interviews with 10 students from this latter group indicate several key benefits and challenges associated with immersive block learning. Students reported heightened focus and motivation, supportive teaching, and a healthy study-work-life balance. Challenges included not knowing what to expect, forming social connections with classmates, and the fast turnover between assessments. These findings indicate that it is important for institutions to prepare international students well for the pace and time management demands of studying in an immersive block model and to encourage the formation of social connections. Assessment timing, volume, and scaffolding should also be key considerations in immersive block model curriculum design.

Practitioner Notes

  1. The findings from this research show that immersive block models can significantly improve the academic success and satisfaction of international students in higher education, heightening their focus and motivation while allowing them to maintain a healthy study-work-life-balance.
  2. Impacts may vary across disciplines, and satisfaction can be susceptible to negative change in immersive block models.
  3. Institutions should aim to prepare international students for the pace and time demands of studying in an immersive block model before they arrive in the host country and/or commence their studies in an English-medium instruction context.
  4. Academic and professional staff should design activities and initiatives to encourage the formation of social connections between international students and their peers in immersive block models.
  5. Assessment design should be a key consideration in immersive block model curriculum development, with particular attention paid to timing, volume, and scaffolding.

Twitter Handle

LizSGoode, erica_scu