The Southern Cross Model: an overview

Centre for Teaching and Learning


Take a look

Teaching and Learning in the Southern Cross Model

Background to the Southern Cross Model

Southern Cross University was established to promote scholarship, research, free inquiry, the interaction of research and teaching, and academic excellence (Southern Cross University Act 1993, 6[1]).

In 2019 the Southern Cross University Council endorsed a new approach to bring a more explicit focus on delivering outstanding teaching. The University identified the need to strive toward achieving curriculum reform, distinction and uplift.

Dialogue began about the effectiveness of a range of teaching and learning approaches. A period of consultation began with Faculties, Colleges, professional work units, current students and potential future students from the broader community. From these discussions emerged the imperative to further explore innovative approaches to higher education teaching and learning with a view to developing the new Southern Cross Model.

Academic, teaching delivery and operational design teams made up of staff members from across the University reviewed a number of approaches to educational design and delivery in Australia and overseas, and made a series of recommendations which ultimately came to form the basis of the Southern Cross Model.

man pointing to SCU model

The Southern Cross Model Key Features

student and lecturer standing around whiteboard drawing detail

Teaching and Learning in the Southern Cross Model

laptop computer with coggs and the words scholarship on the screen

Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in the Southern Cross Model

students holdng cardboard speech bubbles over their faces

Student Feedback and Results

The Southern Cross Model Key Features

The Southern Cross Model aligns with the University’s strategic plan’s focus on outstanding teaching, inspired student experience and our ethos “for what matters”. The Model aims to provide a more focused and immersive way for students to learn, and a more engaged and rewarding learning experience for students and staff.

The model is focused and flexible:

The academic year is divided into 6 Terms. Each Term is delivered over 7 weeks, with 6 weeks of teaching and a 7th week in each Term which may be used for study, review and assessment. A 2 week break occurs between Terms.

Full-time students enrol in a maximum of 2 units per Term. Students are not required to study in all 6 Terms. Typically a full-time student will study four Terms and complete 8 units a year. This means there are fewer units and fewer assignments and exams for a student to juggle at one time.

The model enables active engagement:

The new Southern Cross Model offers our students a guided and active learning experience, whether they are enrolled online or on-campus. Students will have access to a comprehensive suite of online materials at any time during their studies.

Students are engaged in two forms of guided and active learning – self access learning which is delivered in interactive and guided modules, and class learning that focus on active, guided experiences that extend and apply the skills and knowledge covered in the self-access modules.

Introducing The Southern Cross Model

The Southern Cross Model is an exciting and distinctive new way of teaching and learning.
The Southern Cross Model is flexible and designed to give you more control over when you study.
Instead of completing units over 12-week sessions, you can study over shorter, six-week terms.
This means that you can determine the intensity of your studies.
You can do up to two units at a time in each term, or you can choose to do just one unit at a time if that suits you best.
One of the great things about the Southern Cross Model is that your learning is focused.
Instead of juggling four units at once – and often four essays, reports or exams at once – you will be able to focus your time and energy on just one or two assessments at a time. This will help you succeed in your studies.
In the Southern Cross Model, the teaching methods put your learning first.
All students will be able to access online learning materials that are on-demand, interactive and give you feedback to help you gauge your learning.
You will also benefit from active, guided class experiences, both online and off. In class, you will apply new knowledge and skills to real-world problems and questions.
The Southern Cross Model is designed to help you achieve your goals and work towards the future you want in a more flexible, focused, and learning-centred environment.
We look forward to welcoming students to the Southern Cross Model and seeing students succeed and shine at university and beyond.

Study

You can study over shorter 6 week terms.

Focus

One of the great things about the Southern Cross Model is that your learning is focused.

Flexible

The Southern Cross Model is flexible and designed to give you more control over when you study.

Teaching

In the Southern Cross Model, the teaching methods put your learning first.

Teaching and Learning in the Southern Cross Model

student and lecturer standing around whiteboard drawing detail

The Southern Cross Model uses guided, active learning experiences in both self-access and class learning.

In guided learning, students advance their knowledge and skills with the support of others. Guided learning comes in a range of learning activities including:

  • Curated material with opportunities for practice
  • Modelling practice
  • Joint problem-solving or questioning.

Guided learning can be used in classes online or on campus, as well as in online self-study or through using self-paced learning resources.

Self-access learning in the Southern Cross Model is a guided learning experience facilitated through University learning sites. It affords students the opportunity to progress through learning material at a time and pace that is right for them within each study period. The learning content is sequenced by academics to build students’ knowledge and skills and is bundled into media-rich learning packages called modules.

Self-access learning is distinct from didactic instruction characterised by unidirectional interaction between more and less knowledgeable interlocutors, as in lecturing or simply giving students access to readings via a learning site. In the Southern Cross Model content is accompanied by interactive learning activities which are designed by academics to require responses from the learner (e.g. problems). These activities should be designed to help students gauge their understanding of the material and help academics assess student learning engagement and progress.

Class learning in the Southern Cross Model is a scheduled learning experience which happens either on campus or online in real-time. It is facilitated through lesson plans to ensure a consistent quality of delivery across locations and modalities (online/ on-campus). Whether studying online or on-campus, students will have the opportunity to routinely participate in scheduled class learning. Class learning in the Southern Cross Model breaks down the distinction between lecture and tutorial, it involves the engaging presentation of chunks of content to which students are required to actively respond.

Class teaching requires interaction and opportunities for academics to monitor and assess student engagement and development of their skills, knowledge and application of those.

In the Southern Cross Model, all students can attend scheduled classes, regardless of their mode of enrolment. A single weighted unit in the Southern Cross Model will typically be delivered via up to 3 hours of class learning and up to 20 hours self-access learning per week. This may differ in units with specific requirements.

In class, students will be engaged in guided, active learning. They should no longer only listen and note-take, as in the traditional lecture mode.  Rather they will be engaged in active, interactive and dialogue-based learning.

Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in the Southern Cross Model

laptop computer with coggs and the words scholarship on the screen

The Southern Cross Model will be explored and evaluated through a range of scholarship of teaching and learning projects.

These projects will examine outcomes for students in the Model and explore the approaches taken during the Model’s implementation.

A number of projects are in process as of June 2021.

Success, achievement and the commencing student experience: Exploring the impact of the Southern Cross Model

Investigators: Professor Thomas Roche, Professor Erica Wilson, Dr Liz Goode

Aims: This project will explore the impact of a new approach to teaching and learning, the Southern Cross Model, on the success, retention, grades and satisfaction of commencing students. The project will compare unit performance data from the session-based delivery model with data from units delivered in the new Model. Further analysis will be undertaken to identify any contrasting outcomes for students from equity groups or by study mode or load.

Investigators: Dr Liz Goode, Dr Suzi Syme, Dr Johanna Nieuwoudt

Aims: This project will explore the impact of the Southern Cross Model (SCM) on the success and experiences of enabling students in the Preparing for Success Program. The project will draw on unit performance data, learning site analytics and student focus groups to examine:

  1. how student success, grades, satisfaction and engagement in the SCM compares to these measures in the traditional 12-week model.
  2. students’ perceptions of the Model’s pedagogical approach in the context of enabling education, including interactive self-access modules, active class learning, and scaffolded assessments.

Investigators: Dr Kerrie Stimpson, Dr Suzi Syme, Dr Liz Goode

Aims: This project aims to investigate student attitudes, beliefs and experiences in an enabling mathematics unit that is designed to introduce novice non-traditional university students to mathematical concepts and applied problem solving via a six-week delivery model. The project will examine student attitudes, beliefs and experiences in relation to:

  1. their mathematical skills and relating these to real-world problems
  2. module design and what they found engaging and what they found challenging, with a particular focus on the impact of the new Southern Cross Model on learning experience and academic success.

A ‘Trojan horse’ approach to enhancing commencing undergraduate students’ academic literacies in a six-week delivery mode

Investigators: Dr Liz Goode, Dr Johanna Nieuwoudt, Professor Thomas Roche

Aims:  This project will investigate the efficacy of two foundational units designed to introduce new university students to academic enquiry and communication via the Southern Cross Model. The project will explore:

  1. how effectively a 'Trojan Horse' approach to academic literacy development engages commencing students and enhances their academic competence and confidence.
  2. students' perceptions of a six-week delivery and principles of active, media-rich teaching and learning.

Investigators: Dr Lachlan Forsyth, Dr Mieke Witsel, Dr Jenelle Benson, Dr Polly Lai, Dr Jo Munn

Aims: This project seeks to answer the question: What are the success factors for harnessing an interdisciplinary design studio to support academic development in active learning design? Active learning is an important component of the teaching and learning that underpins the Southern Cross Model. The project will utilise a mixed-methods approach drawing on data from surveys, workshops, online communications, participant journals and developed resources. Participants will include a multi-disciplinary group of designers, including academic curriculum designers, educational designers and digital designers.

Student Feedback and Results

students holdng cardboard speech bubbles over their faces

Preliminary data on the impact of the Southern Cross Model have begun to emerge.
Early insights are captured in this presentation, featuring both staff and students.

As additional data becomes available it will be included here.

The recorded webinar below provides student feedback during a Talking Teaching webinar series held by The Centre for Teaching and Learning at SCU.

Watch recording - The new SCU Model: Lived experiences of teachers and students   

What students are saying

The following feedback responses were received from B Business & Enterprise students (BBusEnt student) and Preparing for Sucess Program students (PSP student)

"Better than longer, drawn out subjects. A bit more focused on one thing which then can be used universally across other subjects." (BBusEnt student)

"The 6 weeks, although full-on, felt easier to manage and control tasks. It felt better getting things done quicker." (BBusEnt student)

"2 subjects over 6 weeks is the best workload experience I’ve ever had." (BBusEnt student)

"Found the workload hard to adjust to but once I did, it was more manageable." (BBusEnt student)

"Intense, but is achievable." (BBusEnt student)

"I was relieved because I remember trying to juggle four subjects was hard. So only focusing on two was a big relief." (PSP student)

"Having a focus point and knowing that that's where I've gottago, I think having more subjects on top of that would possibly come crashing down around me pretty quickly." (PSP student)

The following feedback responses were received from B Business & Enterprise students (BBusEnt student) and Preparing for Sucess Program students (PSP student).

"Yeah, I think just the fact that it's done, tick, I'm onto the next one. Now I'm going to break until third of July or whatever it is and yeah. I can do this." (BBusEnt student)

"Beingable to do the activities within [the modules] felt in interactive, it felt like good practice to give you confidence…. I think having that was a confidence booster too, that you could give things a go in your own time as well." (BBusEnt student)

"I find it motivating… you've like, got to get it in. There's no time for procrastination." (PSP student)

"I honestly prefer the six weeks. It gives you a little break in between to kind of recollect yourself and then attack the next two topics." (PSP student)

The following feedback responses were received from B Business & Enterprise students (BBusEnt student) and Preparing for Sucess Program students (PSP student).

"I think it was kind of like a breath of fresh air because you're not just reading and reading and reading, you're kind of doing something different and engaging a different part of your brain." (BBusEnt student)

"I really enjoyed the modules for this unit. Just the little things where every so often, there’s like a little activity where you got to try and match the word to the right context and just little things like that to really reinforce what you're learning, I think that they’re really good." (BBusEnt student)

"I feel like it was a bit of a mixture of everything, having all these different resources together as well as having that feedback, it helped piece all the bits together and help us gain a deeper understanding." (BBusEnt student)

"Yeah it keeps you engaged, like works different parts of your brain, keeps you sort of awake a bit to work through it." (PSP student) 

"I think the activities were really good… I think it kind of builds you to know where you need to focus." (PSP student) 

The Southern Cross Model student experience: Tayla

My name's Tayla. I'm studying the Diploma of Civil Construction and I'm an online student here at Southern Cross University.

I'm using my diploma as a pathway to get into the Bachelor of Engineering Systems so that I can do Civil Engineering as my specialisation.

The Southern Cross model is changing the way that students are able to study. So instead of you do doing your 13, 12-week session, you actually finish your unit in that first six-week block and then you have a break and then you do your next and your next.

You can take a term off if you need to or you can study more full-time.

It just allows room for you to just be a person.

So, I've already completed two of the units in this new study mode and I love it. It's so good. The teachers are just so on top of it and it's a new thing for everybody, but they're really, really good with it. Everyone's so understanding with it. And while you go a lot faster over that six-week course, it doesn't actually feel difficult. It doesn't feel like you're doing more work. It's just really, really well laid out.

And it gives you a lot more opportunity to study one thing and more in-depth because you're able to study more in a shortened period of time and actually still absorb all of it really well. So instead of doing four subjects at a time you can do two. Which means that you actually pay more attention in your subjects. It means that there's less subjects to divide your attention between. It's easier to concentrate on your assessment tasks and keep track of them and everything like that. It's so much easier as a student.

You can really see the finish line. It really motivates you to stay focused and just it's much easier to stay on topic.

So, I was studying the 12-week model in other universities and it wasn't going well, really wasn't suiting me.

But since coming to Southern Cross, I've gone immediately into this new model and getting high distinctions. And it's a relief and it's incredible. It's so nice.

The Southern Cross Model student experience: Davi

My name is Davi Martins Algranti. I'm originally from Brazil, and I'm studying business and enterprise at Southern Cross University.

I've been always interested in business, as I want to be a businessman in the future.

And when I finished my high school, I came to Australia to learn English.

Then I took the IELTS course. Southern Cross University offered me a good scholarship.

So, studying in six weeks terms helped me a lot because we have just two units to study, so most of the time you're really focused in these two units and you are not stressed.

I can put everything together and summarise all the learnings that I have got in six weeks for my final assessments.

So, studying in short terms is giving me the possibility to organise my time, focus on my assessments in the right time, and at the same moment, work a little bit.

And I can be focused and maintain a good experience and maintain good grades.

Having a six-week term, it's a really good way to deliver education for us because, you can be focused and work through your assessments that time and work hard, but then when you have a two-week break, you can relax and recover your energy to come back motivated.

I like to do sports related with the nature. So, here on the Gold Coast, as we have the beach, I can skate along the beach and enjoy a beautiful place. At the same moment, when I'm surfing, I can be in the ocean and be connected with nature.

The teachers, they always support us with all the questions that we have, and they teach in a way that it's fun to learn.

Their passion, you can feel this. They love the job that they are doing.

I feel like studying in short terms, it's the best thing I've ever done, and I would strongly recommend for someone who wants to have a good experience studying and get new motivations to study in short terms because yeah, you will feel good and you can balance your time to work, study and have a good lifestyle.

Early results are in

Comparing Session 1 2020 with combined Study Period 2/3 2021, satisfaction increased for:

  • Overall University
  • B Business & Enterprise (cf. B Bus 2020)
  • Diploma units*

graph showing student satisfaction

* Data relates to Diploma units delivered by SCU College.

Comparing Session 1 2020 with combined Study Period 2/3 2021, success and GPA was maintained or increased for:

  • B Business & Enterprise (cf. B Bus 2020)
  • Diploma units*

Graphs for Maintained or increased success and GPA

 * Data relates to Diploma units delivered by SCU College

 

+