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EDAP613 Exceptional Children and Atypical Development


EDIP608 Identifying How Exceptional Learners Learn

Unit rationale, description and aim

Educational assessment and evaluation is pivotal to enhancing learning outcomes for students and guiding effective teaching practices. These processes of making a judgement or measurement in education involves gathering and evaluating data evolving from planned learning activities, delivery of instructions and/or programs.

This unit examines the theoretical perspectives of cognitive, behavioural and academic assessments and builds knowledge and skills pertaining to the measurement and scoring of assessment structures, alongside a strong focus on interpretation and diagnostic processes to support individual assessment planning to support enhanced learning and teaching. Specifically psychometric data analysis skill development and Functional Behavioural Analysis is foregrounded. Additionally there is a strong focus on the ethical, legal and professional issues associated with the conduct of educational assessment.

The aim of this unit is to support students in developing the required advanced knowledge, understanding and expert skills they need in order to function effectively in an allied psychology role.

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.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Identify the theoretical perspectives and practical aspects of gathering and interpreting educational and behavioural data (GA4, GA8; APST 1.2, 2.3 (Lead))

LO2 - Apply assessment decisions based on current ethical, legal and professional expectations demonstrating awareness of the challenges in assessing children. (GA1, GA4, GA6; APST 2.3, 5.1, 5.3, 7.1 (Lead))

LO3 - Appraise relevant screening measures and identify when and how to make a referral to allied health professionals (GA4, GA6, GA8; APST1.2, 3.7, 5.1, 5.4, 7.4 (Lead))

LO4 - Create individual programs based on data collected from assessments, interviews, observations and reports from other professionals (GA1, GA4, GA6, GA8; APST 1.2, 2.3, 3.6, 4.3, 5.1, 5.4, 7.4 (Lead)

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity 

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 


On successful completion of this unit, students should have gained evidence towards the following standards:

1.2    Understand how students learn (Lead)

2.3    Curriculum, assessment and reporting (Lead)

3.6    Evaluate and improve teaching programs (Lead)

3.7       Engage parents/carers in the educative process (Lead)

4.3    Managing challenging behaviour (Lead)

5.1    Assess student learning (Lead)

5.3    Make consistent and comparable judgments (Lead)

5.4    Interpret student data. (Lead)

7.1    Meet professional ethics and responsibilities (Lead)

7.4    Engage with professional teaching networks and broader communities (Lead)


Topics will include: 

  • Theoretical perspectives of cognitive, behavioural and academic assessment: key concepts in educational assessment (purposes, tasks, contexts for data collection, the concepts of a population and a sample, norm-referenced and criterion referenced decisions and assessments), types of scores (raw scores and the scores derived from these, for example percentile ranks) and types or levels of measurement or scaling (nominal, ordinal, interval, ratio, Rasch scaling), types of distributions that are relevant to students outcomes, summative and formative assessment.
  • Introduction to measurement and scores characteristics of the normal distribution and variants), descriptive statistics for a cohort (central tendency and spread or dispersion, standard scores (z and t scores, specialised standard scores)), interpreting outcomes on individual assessment tasks (confidence limits). 
  • Psychometric features of a standardised test: its reliability, validity (content, criterion, predictive, construct), standard error of measurement. 
  • Assessment of extended responses: examples of tasks comprising multiple dimensions for assessment (problem solutions, essays, projects, products, authentic assessments, oral presentations), steps in developing the task (planning, developing, critiquing the assessment, developing the dimensions for assessment (rubric), content-process grids, combining scores for multi-dimensional tasks.
  • Observational and behavioural assessments: analysis of the teacher observation process; collecting and recording evidence of student behaviours and learning; planning for teacher and parent observations, naturalistic data collection, factors that affect the validity of teacher observations; analysis of measurements of frequency of behaviours, Functional Behavioural Analysis . Conducting and interpreting structured observations. Conducting interviews. Response to Intervention – Individual level. 
  • Types of assessment- cognitive, behavioural and academic: the assessment structures of commonly used types of items; reading comprehension and numeracy scales, general ability scales, nonverbal scales, oral language scales, functional assessment scales, perceptual motor scales. Types of tasks. Strategies for evaluating and selecting assessment scales according to the intended purposes.
  • Interpreting scores on multiple tests; combining and comparing scores from two or more assessments comparing means using t-test, correlations. Reading and understanding reports from allied health professional.
  • The diagnostic process and the decisions made at each phase (screening, analysis of patterns, causes, recommendations). Dynamic assessment procedures. Screening and when to make a referral
  • Review of the quality of assessment; assessment results analysis, moderation processes, student evaluation feedback on teaching and assessment, staff peer reviews of assessment designs and tasks, benchmarking processes
  • Development of an individual assessment plan.
  • Ethical, legal and professional issues.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit is offered in multi-mode and will be supported by a unit LEO (learning environment online) site.

Engagement for learning is the key driver in the delivery of this curriculum. The unit will facilitate active participation in pedagogical approaches that demonstrate alignment of teaching, learning and assessment and incorporate:

  • Use of a core set of digital resources (including modules; readings; suggested websites and other electronic resources) to support learning and assessment;
  • Use of online tools to build a community of learners (e.g. forum; chat; podcasts; WIKI);
  • Engagement in reflective practice supported by the study of scholarly literature;
  • Critical analysis and applied learning to educational case studies for the purposes of assessment.
  • Classes may be face to face intensives and/or online

This is a 10-credit point unit and has been designed to ensure that the time needed to complete the required volume of learning to the requisite standard is approximately 150 hours in total across the semester. To achieve a passing standard in this unit, students will find it helpful to engage in the full range of learning activities and assessments utilised in this unit, as described in the learning and teaching strategy and the assessment strategy. The learning and teaching and assessment strategies include a range of approaches to support your learning such as reading, reflection, discussion, webinars, podcasts, video, workshops, and assignments etc.

Assessment strategy and rationale

In order to successfully complete this unit, postgraduate students need to complete and submit two graded assessment tasks. The assessment strategy used allows students to demonstrate their knowledge and skill related to educational behavioral and functional assessment.

The first task (50%) requires students to analyse and synthesise the research knowledge and skills required to implement effective evidence based practice for exceptional learners. The second task (50%) requires students to apply the theoretical knowledge acquired in task one and apply it in a practical manner to an individual student assessment. 

Assessment Tasks 

There are two assessment tasks, each worth 50% of the final grade for the unit.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1 

Extended Writing Task that unpacks and synthesizes the knowledge and skills needed to implement effective evidence based practice for exceptional learners. This will include: 

  • multiple definitions and purposes of assessment for intervention, 
  • theoretical perspectives of cognitive, behavioural and academic assessment for diagnosis,
  • the collection, interpretation and synthesis of data to assist decision-making
  • generation of key diagnostic ‘hypotheses’ and analysis of the diagnostic process
  • the development of individual assessment plans
  • protocols for the selection and evaluation of appropriate assessment scales
  • controversies in relation to assessment,
  • and ethical, legal and professional expectations.


LO1, LO2

GA1, GA4, GA6, GA8

Assessment Task 2 

Practical Case Study of an individual student assessment 

  • tests/checklists
  • Interviews
  • Observations
  • Other reports
  • Outcome evaluation


LO3, LO4

GA1, GA4, GA6, GA8

Representative texts and references

Alberto, P.A., & Troutman, A.C. (2012). Applied behavior analysis for teachers (9th ed.). New York: Pearson.

Lamprianou, I., & Athanasou, J.A. (2009). A teacher's guide to educational assessment. Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense Publishers.

McEwan, E.K., & Damer, M. (2000). Managing unmanageable students. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Merrell, K.W., Ervin, R.A., & Peacock, G.G. (2012). School psychology for the 21st Century: Foundations and practices (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Guilford Press. 

Ridden, P., & Heldsinger, S. (2014). What teachers need to know about assessment and reporting. Australia: ACER Press.

Sattler, J.M. (2014). Foundations of behavioral, social, and clinical assessment of children (6th ed.). La Mesa, CA: Jerome M. Sattler.

Sattler, J.M. (2008). Assessment of children: Cognitive foundations (5th ed.). La Mesa, CA: Jerome M. Sattler

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