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EDES500 Foundations of Development and Learning in Australian Childhood Contexts

Unit rationale, description and aim

Includes: 10 days professional experience placement with children aged birth to 35 months

Pre-service teachers must develop a critical understanding the nature of learning and learners; influencing psychological, social, economic, environmental and cultural factors; and learners on needs and demands. The study of learning and learners should inform pre-service teachers to cater for the individual needs of the learners who come from diverse cultures, contexts and experiences.

This unit is based on recent and significant insights from cognitive and developmental psychology, and educational sociology, to provide frames of reference to assist pre-service teachers to understand characteristics of children as learners and their implications for teaching. Pre-service teachers will engage with recent scholarly literature, key educational policies, developmental/learning theories and sociological theories to inform their knowledge and understanding of student diversity in terms of stages of development (including infants, toddler and young people), learning processes within formal and informal educational settings, and socio-cultural backgrounds–all of which require a tailored approach to meet learners’ needs. Pre-service teachers will critically analyse this information in order to propose evidence-based strategies for best practice. Pre-service teachers will be given the opportunity to demonstrate these strategies to peers in group presentations and reflect on their teaching practice in order to develop the necessary reflexivity required for quality teaching and lifelong learning. 

This unit also includes an early childhood workplace immersion experience where pre-service teachers will examine the nexus between theory and practice by knowing, doing and being in the context. The supervised and assessed placement will consist of 10 days in an early childhood setting for children aged from Birth to 35 months. The experience will also be informed by relevant national and state curriculum frameworks and professional, legal and ethics obligations, in particular in occupational health and safety and how it impacts upon the health and wellbeing of young children. During this placement, pre-service teachers will be engaged with early childhood centre operations, management and service delivery, and professional interactions with a range of professionals working with children under two and their families.

The overall aim of this unit is to develop the critical thinking skills required for researching, analysing and reflecting on developmental/learning/sociological theories and evidence-based strategies that support learning and inclusive teaching practices in Australian educational environments .  

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

Learning Outcome NumberLearning Outcome DescriptionRelevant Graduate Capabilities
LO1Draw on current scholarly literature and developmental/learning theories develop a critical understanding of children developmental stages (physical, socio-emotional, cognitive and moral) and diverse learning needsGC1, GC2, GC3, GC7, GC8, GC9
LO2Critically analyse basic assumptions, concepts and principles of major learning theories and children developmental stages to determine implications for instructional settingsGC1, GC2, GC3, GC6, GC7, GC8, GC9
LO3Draw on and critically analyse current scholarly literature, sociological theory education policy, curriculum and resources to propose evidence-based strategies that respond to the learning needs of students from diverse socio-economic, gender and cultural backgrounds, including students with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritageGC1, GC2, GC3, GC6, GC7, GC8, GC9
LO4Demonstrate an understanding of the complex roles of early years educators and the related ethical, legal and professional responsibilities, to evaluate occupational health and safety and how it impacts upon the health and wellbeing of young children and educatorsGC1, GC2, GC3, GC6, GC7, GC8, GC9
LO5Complete a successful professional experience in early childhood setting supported by appropriate evidence developed across the professional experience component (details provided in Professional Experience Handbook)GC1, GC2, GC3, GC4, GC6, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC10, GC11, GC12

ACECQA Curriculum Specifications

In connection to the learning outcomes, on successful completion of this unit, pre-service teachers should have developed the following industry specific knowledge based on the Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) standards:

Industry StandardRelating toRelevant Learning Outcome


Learning, development and care

LO1, LO2

Social and emotional development

LO1, LO2

Child health, wellbeing and safety

LO2, LO4

Early intervention

LO2, LO4
ACECQA -B1 Early Years Learning FrameworkLO2

Physical and health education


Curriculum planning, programming and evaluation


Alternative pedagogies and curriculum approaches


Play based pedagogies


Guiding behaviour/engaging young learners


Teaching methods and strategies


Developing family and community partnerships

LO1, LO3, LO4

Multicultural education

LO1, LO3
ACECQA -D3Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectivesLO1

Socially inclusive practice

LO1, LO3

Culture, diversity and inclusion

LO3, LO5

Historical and comparative perspectives


Contemporary theories and practice


Ethics and professional practice


Management and administration


Professional identity and development


Australian Professional Standards for Teachers - Graduate Level

In connection to the learning outcomes, on successful completion of this unit, pre-service teachers should have developed the following industry specific knowledge based on the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers - Graduate Level standards:

Industry StandardRelating toRelevant Learning Outcome
APST(GA)1.1Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of physical, social and intellectual development and characteristics of students and how these may affect learning.LO1, LO2
APST(GA)1.2Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of research into how students learn and the implications for teaching.LO1, LO2
APST(GA)1.3Demonstrate knowledge of teaching strategies that are responsive to the learning strengths and needs of students from diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgroundsLO3, LO4
APST(GA)1.4Demonstrate broad knowledge and understanding of the impact of culture, cultural identity and linguistic background on the education of students from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgroundsLO3
APST(GA)1.5Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of strategies for differentiating teaching to meet the specific learning needs of students across the full range of abilities.LO2, LO5
APST(GA)2.1Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the concepts, substance and structure of the content and teaching strategies of the teaching area.LO5
APST(GA)2.2Organise content into an effective learning and teaching sequence.LO5
APST(GA)2.3Use curriculum, assessment and reporting knowledge to design learning sequences and lesson plans.LO5
APST(GA)2.4Demonstrate broad knowledge of, understanding of, and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and languages.LO3
APST(GA)3.1Set learning goals that provide achievable challenges for students of varying abilities and characteristics.LO5
APST(GA)3.3Include a range of teaching strategies.LO5
APST(GA)3.4Demonstrate knowledge of a range of resources, including ICT, that engage students in their learning.LO5
APST(GA)3.5Demonstrate a range of verbal and non-verbal communication strategies to support student engagement.LO5
APST(GA)4.2Demonstrate the capacity to organise classroom activities and provide clear directions.LO5
APST(GA)4.4Describe strategies that support students’ wellbeing and safety working within school and/or system, curriculum and legislative requirements.LO5
APST(GA)5.1Demonstrate understanding of assessment strategies, including informal and formal, diagnostic, formative and summative approaches to assess student learning.LO5
APST(GA)5.2Demonstrate an understanding of the purpose of providing timely and appropriate feedback to students about their learning.LO5
APST(GA)6.3Seek and apply constructive feedback from supervisors and teachers to improve teaching practices.LO5
APST(GA)7.1Understand and apply the key principles described in codes of ethics and conduct for the teaching profession.LO4, LO5
APST(GA)7.2Understand the relevant legislative, administrative and organisational policies and processes required for teachers according to school stage.LO4, LO5
APST(GA)7.3Understand strategies for working effectively, sensitively and confidentially with parents/carers.LO5
APST(GA)7.4Understand the role of external professionals and community representatives in broadening teachers’ professional knowledge and practice.LO5


This unit is based on an understanding that learning and development is situated in complex and diverse contexts. The content will cover the following three modules:

Developmental/learning theories and applications for instruction:

  • Child and adolescent developmental stages - physical, socio-emotional, cognitive and moral
  • Behavioural theories and classroom management
  • Social cognitive theories, teacher modelling and student self-efficacy
  • Constructivist theories and approaches, including differentiation and scaffolding for diverse learning needs
  • Information-processing theory, memory and learning strategies
  • Bioecological systems theory and home-school-community partnerships
  • Student centred learning strategies and resources to support metacognition and higher order thinking
  • Motivation and engagement
  • Self-regulation and lifelong learning

Sociological factors influencing student experiences of schooling :

  • Socioeconomic status, inequity and life chances
  • Gender and the push for equal opportunity
  • Culture, cultural identity and linguistic background
  • Religious background
  • Challenging racism and celebrating multiculturalism
  • Learning from Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander perspectives and pedagogies
  • Australia in local and global contexts

Infant and toddler studies:

  • Theories and research in relation to positive relationships with and between infants, toddlers and their diverse families.
  • Play, responsive care and learning experiences for infants and toddlers.
  • Brain development research and neuroscience in the first years.
  • Inclusion and transitions with/between infants, toddlers and their families.
  • The ethical, legal and professional responsibilities of early childhood educators
  • Collaborative relationships and roles in early childhood learning communities
  • Observation, planning, curriculum decision-making and teaching strategies that are responsive to and inclusive of a range of sociocultural contexts and children’s stages of development.
  • Pedagogical practices to support the learning and development of children aged birth to two years
  • Strategies and principles for establishing and maintaining effective professional relationships

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

To cater for the different contexts of students and to maximise accessibility for study of this unit, it may be offered on-campus, online or in a multi-mode and will consist of three contact hours each week for 12 weeks, or an equivalent study period. This unit applies a social constructivist strategy to develop pre-service teachers’ understanding of children’s development and theories of learning. They will build their understanding through critical reading, lecturer modelling, active engagement and group discussion in tutorials.

A critical pedagogy approach is employed to encourage pre-service teachers to see themselves as agents able to affect positive change in their world through social critique and advocacy for the rights of school students – particularly those from more vulnerable backgrounds. Pre-service teachers will therefore develop critical questioning, thinking, analysis, discussion, presentation and reflection skills through the following teaching and learning strategies:

  • Lecture or equivalent content offered online
  • Face-to-face and/or online tutorials that promote discussion
  • Self-directed reading, research and reflection

Face-to-face/Online Learning support

Students enrolled in both face to face and online learning modes are required to regularly log into the Learning Management System to access recorded lectures and important announcements, to communicate with other students and lecturers, and to submit assessments and access feedback and grades. Students who are enrolled in either face to face or online learning will have equal access to support from the lecturer in charge and tutors.

Additional equipment requirements for online learning:

  • Reliable broadband access is recommended.
  • Headset with microphone to listen to podcasts, view videos and interact in synchronous classes.

CU Online

This unit uses an active learning approach to support students in the exploration of knowledge essential to the discipline. Students are provided with choice and variety in how they learn. Students are encouraged to contribute to asynchronous weekly discussions. Active learning opportunities provide students with opportunities to practice and apply their learning in situations similar to their future professions. Activities encourage students to bring their own examples to demonstrate understanding, application and engage constructively with their peers. Students receive regular and timely feedback on their learning, which includes information on their progress.


This unit also includes an early childhood workplace immersion experience where pre-service teachers will examine the nexus between theory and practice by knowing, doing and being in the context. The supervised and assessed placement will consist of 10 days (5 individual days and one week block) in an early childhood setting for children aged from Birth to 35 months.

Recommended progression of professional experience engagement

Days 1-5 (single days or incorporated into the block) - Proposed Teaching Expectations

Days 1-3

  • Observation and active participation in small group teaching; assisting the supervising teacher in the teaching and learning process, plus managing context routines
  • Observation of teachers in the learning context, their teaching and practices, management of contexts and individuals
  • Observe communication skills that the teacher and room leader use with babies, toddlers, children, parents and other staff
  • Critical reflection on pre-service teacher’s role in the education setting as participant, leader, team member, co-teacher/collaborator 

Days 4-5

  • Structured observations and small group/team teaching
  • Plan / implement and assess two sequential learning experiences per day individually or with the other pre-service teacher (if in a paired placement)
  • Managing context routines or transitions connected to sequenced learning experiences
  • Ongoing observation of teachers, room leader, and other education stakeholders (e.g. specialists, leadership teams, other teachers etc.) in the education setting, their teaching and practices, management of the learning environment, as well as the infants and toddlers
  • Continual self-reflection and evaluation
  • Negotiate with Supervising Teacher and the other pre-service teacher (if in a paired placement) your responsibilities in the first week of block

Block practicum: Days 6-10

Block (5 days)

  • Plan, prepare and implement learning experiences informed by observations that support young children’s interests
  • Plan, prepare, implement and reflect on two learning experiences per day
  • Take responsibility for managing some individual and whole group routines
  • Engage in half-day continuous teaching including management of transitions and whole group routines.
  • Conduct observations of the practices of the Supervising Teacher and room leader.
  • Reflection, self-reflection and evaluation.

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment tasks and their weightings are designed to allow pre-service teachers to progressively demonstrate achievement against the unit learning outcomes and to develop graduate attributes consistent with University assessment requirements.

A range of assessment procedures are used, consistent with University assessment requirements.

Minimum Achievement Standards

The assessment tasks and their weighting for this unit are designed to demonstrate the achievement of each learning outcome. In order to pass this unit, students are required to submit all assessment tasks, meet the learning outcomes of the unit and achieve a minimum overall passing grade of 50%.   

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Capabilities

Assessment Task 1

Critical Reflection

Pre-service teachers will research, critically analyse and synthesise theories of childhood development (physical, social and intellectual) and learning and incorporate in a critical reflection on personal experiences of learning and schooling.

Must demonstrate understanding of:

  • Major learning and human development theories and their implications for teaching and learning.
  • Student characteristics and how these may affect learning.
  • <


LO1, LO2GC1, GC2, GC3, GC6, GC7, GC8, GC9

Assessment Task 2

Planning for Infants and Toddlers

Students design and analyse an education and care program for infants and/or toddlers and relate the discussion to the relevant theories and philosophies of infant and toddler development. 


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4GC1, GC2, GC3, GC6, GC7, GC8, GC9

Hurdle Requirement: Preparation for the Professional Experience Placement

Prior to commencing the Professional Experience placement, pre-service teachers must complete a series of compulsory online preparation modules, attaining a score of 95% or above in each module. The modules cover:

  • Professional Standards;
  • Professional expectations and codes of conduct;
  • Workplace Health & Safety;
  • Legal requirements, including Duty of Care, Child Protection and Mandatory Reporting; and
  • Professional relationships.

Pre-service teachers must also complete and provide evidence of the following:

  • Working with Children Check or a Police Check where this is appropriate or mandated.
  • Mandatory requirements as specified by the pre-service teacher’s state/territory.


  • Completion of these modules does not exempt pre-service teachers from seeking a Working with Children Check or a Police Check where this is appropriate or mandated.
  • Anticipated completion time: 7 hours
  • Multiple attempts at this hurdle task are permitted.


LO4GC1, GC2, GC3, GC6, GC7, GC8, GC9

Hurdle Task

Professional Experience Summative Assessment:


In this assessment candidates are expected to demonstrate satisfactory teaching performance during their Professional Experience. Refer to Professional Experience Handbook and Report.


  • Multiple attempts at this hurdle task are not permitted.
  • Professional Experience is a mandated part of Initial Teacher Education courses. Failing this task will result in a fail grade for the unit overall and pre-service teachers will be required to enrol in a future offering of the unit.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5GC1, GC2, GC3, GC4, GC6, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC10, GC11, GC12

Representative texts and references

Required text(s)

Duchesne, S., & McMaugh, A. (2018). Educational psychology for learning and teaching (6th ed.). Cengage. Ebook available.

Smidt, S. (2013). The developing child in the 21st century : A global perspective on child development (2nd ed.). Taylor & Francis Group.

Welch, A., Connell, R.; Mockler, N., Sriprakash, A., Proctor, H., Hayes, D., Foley, D., Vickers, M., Bagnall, N., Burns, K., Low, R., & Groundwater-Smith, S. (2018). Education, change and society (4th ed.). Oxford University Press. Ebook available.

Highly Recommended Texts

Apple, M. (2013). Can education change society? Routledge. Ebook also available.

Apple, M. (2014). Official knowledge: Democratic education in a conservative age (3rd ed.). Routledge.

Berk, L. E. (2015). Infants children and adolescents (78th International ed.). Pearson Education.

Margetts, K., & Woolfolk, A. (2018). Physical and cognitive development (pp.65-108). In Educational Psychology (5th ed.). Pearson Education Australia.

Newman, B. M., & Newman, P. R. (2021). Development through life: A psychosocial approach (14th ed.). Wadsworth/Cengage Learning.

O’Donnell, A.M., Dobozy, E., Nagel, M.C., Smala, S., Wormald, C., Yates, G., Spooner-Lane, R., Youssef-Shalala, A., Reeve, J., Smith, J.K., & Bartlett, B. (2020). Educational Psychology (3rd ed.). Wiley & Sons.

Tait, G. (2016). Making sense of mass education (2nd ed.). Cambridge University Press. 

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