Start with the end in mind: Experiences of accelerated course completion by teacher education students at one Australian University

Year: 2012

Author: Hay, Ian, Collins, Anita

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


Accelerated learning programs are one of the fastest growing transformations in higher education (Wlodkowski, 2003). This transformation has been noted in the Australian tertiary sector over the past five years. It has been a competitive climate of attracting increased numbers of students in to Australian university courses. One of the ways that universities are achieving this is by allowing prospective students to have greater control over their studies and to be able to course complete sooner. A number of universities have already established secondary teaching periods outside the standard semester unit delivery mode. The majority of these universities have included a winter term and some instances, summer periods in their teaching offerings. These periods are not compulsory for study and are viewed as providing students with greater flexibility and opportunity to shorten the length of the degree by taking more units of study in a year; lessen the study load by spreading study across three or four teaching periods in a year; and some courses allow mid-year entry. This preliminary research investigates the expectations and experiences of students and staff in the University of Canberra, Faculty of Education winter term unit offerings. The data from this investigation can be used to inform teaching approaches, timetabling principles and resourcing requirements that will ensure quality learning experiences and outcomes as well as sustainable staffing practices. The research design employed in this study was a mixed methods approach with a purpose designed pre and post-test online survey instrument. To enrich this data a qualitative approach was used via one-on-one interviews and teaching staff focus groups. This project has informed the planning, pedagogy and resources for future units delivered in a winter term format. It has addressed assumptions about this delivery format and findings from this research project can used to inform other teacher education providers about the benefits and challenges of alternate types of unit delivery. This project has provided the participants with the opportunity to reflect upon their experience that in turn has enriched the overall learning outcomes for students.  The benefits for teaching staff have been similar, as participants were able to reflect upon their teaching approaches, working in teams and cross-curricula understanding.