1 Griffith University (AUSTRALIA)
2 Bond University (AUSTRALIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2013 Proceedings
Publication year: 2013
Pages: 5212-5218
ISBN: 978-84-616-3847-5
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 6th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 18-20 November, 2013
Location: Seville, Spain
Intensive or block mode teaching is where course materials are delivered over a shorter period of time compared to standard courses, by means of compressed teaching formats. Cost and time saved with the intensive mode teaching are encouraging more universities to offer this type of learning. However, the high level of student satisfaction is the major factor driving the implementation of this teaching mode within tertiary education institutions. Yet, while student satisfaction is an important indicator of the benefit of this teaching mode, there is a scarcity of information regarding the educational benefit on student performance compared with traditional modes of delivery.

This study aimed to investigate and compare student overall performance between traditional and intensive mode in an introductory pharmacology course for second year pharmacy students at Griffith University, Gold Coast, Australia.

The introductory pharmacology course (2018PHM) is offered to second year pharmacy students in either traditional or intensive modes. The traditional mode is delivered in semester one over a period of 13 weeks, using 3 hours of lectures per week. The intensive mode is delivered during the summer semester over a period of 3 weeks, using 13 hours of lectures per week. Both modes are supported by an equivalent number of tutorials, workshops and laboratories. A retrospective qualitative and quantitative study was conducted to compare the educational benefit of both modes on student learning. Student satisfaction was obtained from the student evaluation of course (SEC) reports which detailed their preference and attitude towards the intensive course mode. Student performance was also compared as measured by overall course grade over a period of three years (2010 – 2012). Student demographic variables (age, sex and grade average point or GPA) were examined to determine if the groups were comparable on potential confounding factors. Ethical approval was granted by the Griffith University Human Ethics Committee (PHM/05/10/HREC).

The majority of students from the intensive teaching course indicated positive responses (> 4 on a 5 point likert scale) in the SEC reports. There was no significant difference between the age of students or the number of males and females in both teaching modes during the three years (p > 0.05). Students who enrolled in the intensive mode had a significantly lower mean GPA compared to their peers from the traditional course for all three study years (traditional vs intensive mean ± SD: 2010 - 5.05 ± 0.85 vs 4.05 ± 0.50; 2011 - 4.90 ± 0.93 vs 4.17 ± 0.50; 2012 - 4.89 ± 0.98 vs 4.25 ± 1.0; p < 0.05 for all years). While there were statistically significant differences in students’ GPAs, there was no significant difference in overall student performance between traditional vs intensive modes (mean ± SD: 2010 - 62.0 ± 12.6 vs 55.1 ± 26.6; 2011 – 68.7 ± 13.2 vs 71.6 ± 11.3; 2012 – 70.3 ± 13.5 vs 71.3 ± 25.9; p > 0.05 for all years).

Consistent with previous work, the results of this study confirm that intensive modes of delivery increase student preference towards the course. In addition, this study showed that students undertaking intensive mode classes had a significantly lower GPA than students in the traditional mode but performed as well as students in the traditional mode. This suggests that intensive mode teaching has the potential to improve student performance.
Intensive mode teaching.