Posted on Saturday, October 20, 2018
It feels good to be a part of the learning system where students no longer herd into a lecture theatre with 200 other students and given a lecture with countless Powerpoint slides and no interaction. Instead, Victoria University has decided to restrict the students to 25 to 30 students each. There are no lectures, and academics presently teach and interact in the classroom.
The Swedish model of teaching has been adopted at my university, where students complete and pass a subject and then move on to the next unit. This has helped them immerse in the subject and learn better. We are assessed during the four weeks of the unit, so the student and teacher know if extra help is needed. With a multicultural student cohort, many students here have English as their second language. Teachers know the students so well during the four weeks of studying a subject, they can quickly identify if the subject matter or simply the language used is causing difficulties for anyone and they step in to help. It also makes for peer support because you get to know your classmates well.
As a student of Osteopathy, I have an opportunity to not only learn the theory but also treat people, under supervision, at the Melbourne and Werribee campuses. And as an aspiring professional footballer, I also know that if I was picked for Australia in a world tournament, I would be able to go away for four weeks and only miss one subject. That unit could then be taken at Winter School or at Summer School.
Often, at other universities, where you juggle four subjects at once over a semester and have a rush of assessments at the end, missing four weeks usually means having to defer the entire semester.
Being able to miss four or eight weeks and take that subject later means students can also take on work contracts if they need some experience for their CV. My friends who are doing double-degrees, learn one subject for four weeks before moving onto a subject in the other discipline. It makes learning more manageable and effective.
Coming from India to Australia can be a daunting experience for students. But studying together for four weeks helps in making friends easily. Students are far better able to come to grips with a subject because we deep-dive into it, rather than jump from one to the other from morning to afternoon and day to day. The regular assessments under the system, give us positive reinforcement and saves us from exam pressure. Otherwise we would have got shocked at the end of a semester, when exams come together in different disciplines all at once. The process also gives us a sense of freedom where we know a family emergency, a work opportunity, a need to recharge the batteries or a major sporting selection can all be taken without hesitation.
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