This study examined how academic staff responded to a cross-institutional change initiative to integrate immersive scheduling into the first-year undergraduate curriculum. Immersive scheduling, also referred to as block or compressed delivery, sought to create a supportive first-year experience, to ease students’ transition to university. Adopting an immersive approach is associated with considerable change as academic staff adapt their practice to accommodate the compressed time frame of modules and embrace learning and assessment methods associated with this delivery format. In this study, we undertook semi-structured interviews with 17 academics who were leading the development and delivery of immersive modules or supporting the teaching and learning initiative. Our data indicated that academics played a significant role in the acceptance or rejection of the vision for immersive scheduling. Acceptance was reliant on academics recognising value in the vision, and this varied depending on the extent to which it resonated with local practice. In some cases, the move to immersive scheduling represented a valued opportunity to update pedagogic and assessment practices. However, in other contexts, academic resistance led to dilution of key elements of the vision, with compliance rather than innovation being the outcome. This study also highlights the value of using a combination of module delivery formats to mitigate recognised drawbacks associated with immersive delivery. We conclude this paper by proposing recommendations to support the future development of immersive scheduling in higher education institutions.
- Recognise that immersive or block scheduling involves a significant change in delivery of the curriculum to one where students engage in a module more intensively, over a shorter time frame.
- Promote the application of interactive pedagogies and link to a wider curriculum such as interdisciplinary learning.
- Be aware that immersive scheduling can enhance retention and attainment. Learning designs must focus on managing staff and student fatigue and facilitate time for reflection between sessions.
- Acknowledge academics’ varying responses to immersive scheduling. Some enthusiastically embrace the new model, and others insist that it will not work for their discipline.
- Plan for change resistance. Include consultation and lead-in time, provide clear guidance principles (with some flexibility for disciplinary nuances), and offer support for implementation.
Turner, R., Cotton, D. R., Danvers, E., Morrison, D., & Kneale, P. E. (2024). Exploring academic perspectives on immersive scheduling in a UK university. Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice, 21(2). https://doi.org/10.53761/1.21.2.09