Block Teaching

Block Teaching

Learning and Teaching at the XJTLU Entrepreneur College (Taicang)

At the XJTLU Entrepreneur College (Taicang), the majority of our undergraduate programmes are delivered using a block or intensive delivery pattern. Block or intensive delivery is an innovative way of delivering learning and teaching, bringing many advantages to students.

The delivery pattern is based on the idea that deep, active learning occurs when students focus on a small number of subjects at a time and, where possible, work in small classes. Students start each Block with a clear understanding of what needs to be done, and when, and develop transferrable skills across the curriculum. Active learning in the Block, including the use of project based learning and teaching means that students have are involved in skills-based training, problem solving, and teamwork, and are able to apply what they learn into the following blocks. Typically, in traditional semester long modules, students study all modules at the same time within a semester, with limited or no opportunity to build up their knowledge across modules.

Understanding block/Intensive Teaching

At the XJTLU Entrepreneur College (Taicang), each semester is divided into two blocks of 6 to 7 weeks. Our intensive teaching modules are designed to be delivered over each block, with the number of credits per semester divided equally. During the learning and teaching period, students are supported to go into detail into concepts through learning and teaching which takes place on campus and online through Learning Mall. The amount of formally timetabled learning in a block is the same as the amount formally timetabled in a non-block module, but because it is focused, it helps students to gain confidence and concentrate learning more effectively.

Learning is delivered through a mix of lectures, seminars and tutorials to enhance your understanding Using a flipped-classroom approach where possible, and extensive use of the Learning Mall Online VLE, activities may include work or readings to be completed before a lecture, seminar or tutorial, as well as follow-up work to be completed after, either individually or in groups with fellow students.


You will normally be assessed during and/or at the end of each module, rather than at the end of a semester. This means that you are able to test your learning, and academic staff can better understand how students are developing throughout the semester and the academic year.

As we have adopted a more blended approach to learning we also record lectures and place them on the Learning Mall, along with any notes and ppts, enabling you to revisit content and follow up on learning outside of the classroom activity.

The use of block or intensive teaching, with its focus on student-centred activity means that there are more project and problem-based activities, with more emphasis on group-work and cooperative assessments. Whilst there are still some more traditional assessments such as exams, they are few in number and will decrease.

Principles of Block Teaching

  • Prioritising knowledge exploration and application over just lecturing content. Greater use of group work and project based learning.
  • Including a variety of learning opportunities & assessment tasks embedded within authentic contexts; such as through the PDP in the summer, and through engagement with industry partners.
  • Immersive modules with obvious beginnings and ends, using flipped classroom techniques where possible with pre-/post-class activities.
  • A focus on student-centred learning and teaching which are active & engaging
  • Continual reinforcement of how the modules and the learning activities relate to other parts of study and future career.
  • Extensive use of timely and ongoing feedback, including weekly review of teaching.

Guidelines for module design

  • The number of hours that students study each day should not exceed 7 hours of formal teaching.
  • The number of formal study hours each week should not exceed 30 hours.
  • Formal teaching periods should include time given to enable student’s the opportunity to ask questions to check understanding.
  • Hours of study must be in line with those on the module specifications
  • Students should have an academic staff member available during and after sessions finish to answer any questions that may arise. Office hours must be made available additionally.
  • Module and lecture design must be structured to take into account the delivery style outlined above, and not just be non-block lectures ‘fitted in’.
  • At the beginning of each year there should be specific sessions for students to prepare them for block or intensive learning, and follow-up sessions after the block finishes (it may be the final week of the academic semester) where students can test their understanding.
  • The block teaching sessions should include problem-based learning sessions where students have an opportunity to reflect on their learning.