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EDIP606 Understanding Learners and Learning

Unit rationale, description and aim

This unit introduces contemporary theories of learning specifically related to learner differences and learner needs. It will focus on the following issues: cognitive and social influences on the construction and display of knowledge by individuals; developmental trends in the acquisition of knowledge particularly in the areas of literacy and numeracy. The unit is applied and will focus on the development of processes, interventions, and activities relevant to School Psychology to improve the situation for individual students with problems associated with learning. It will be used to develop a framework for describing regular human development.

The aim of this unit is to support students in developing the required advanced knowledge, understanding and expert skills they need in address the differences and needs of individual learners.

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 - Explain contemporary theories of knowledge acquisition and learning (GA5; APST 1.2 (HA &/or Lead)

LO2 - Identify the variables which can impact on the learning process and lead to individual differences in learning (GA1, GA5; APST 1.2 (HA &/or Lead)

LO3 - Recognise common learning difficulties particularly in the area of numeracy and literacy (GA1, GA5, GA8; APST 1.2, 5.4, 6.4, 7.1 (HA &/or Lead)

LO4 - Design and or identify appropriate and inclusive intervention strategies for students with learning difficulties and learning disabilities (GA1, GA5, GA6, GA8; APST 1.5, 1.6, 2.3, 2.5, 3.1, 3.2, 3.6, 4.1, 4.5, 6.4, 7.1 (HA &/or Lead).

Graduate attributes

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

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

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)

1.5     Differentiate teaching to meet the specific learning needs of students across the full range of abilities (Highly Accomplished)

1.6     Strategies to support full participation of students with disability (Lead)

2.3     Curriculum, assessment and reporting (Lead)

2.5     Literacy and numeracy strategies (Lead)

3.1     Establish challenging learning goals (Lead)

3.2     Plan, structure and sequence learning programs (Lead)

3.6     Evaluate and improve teaching programs (Lead)

4.1     Support student participation (Lead)

4.3     Managing challenging behaviour (Lead)

4.5     Use ICT safely, responsibly and ethically (Highly Accomplished)

5.4     Interpret student data (Lead)

6.4     Apply professional learning and improve student learning (Lead)

7.1     Meet professional ethics and responsibilities (Lead)

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


Topics will include:

  • Contemporary theories of knowledge acquisition and learning
  • Variables creating individual differences in the learning process
  • Theories of growth and maturation 
  • Theories of learning and cognitive development
  • Development of literacy skills and contemporary practices 
  • Development of numeracy skills and contemporary approaches to numeracy.

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.

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 learner differences and learner needs. 

The first task (50%) requires students to write a paper that evaluates the framework proposed in lectures for describing regular human development from the perspective of contemporary educational psychology.   The second task (50%) requires students to elaborate how they would use the framework from assignment 1 and any additional content to plan and implement an inclusive learning and teaching program for students who have particular learning exceptionalities.  

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1

Extended writing task

Write a paper that evaluates the framework developed in lectures for describing regular human development from the perspective of contemporary educational psychology.


LO1, LO2

GA1, GA5

Assessment Task 2

Write a paper describing how you would use the framework developed in lectures and any additional content you see as appropriate to plan and implement an inclusive learning and teaching program for students who have particular learning exceptionalities. 


LO3, LO4

GA1, GA5, GA6, GA8

Representative texts and references

Ashman, A. (Eds.). (2015). Education for inclusion and diversity (5th ed.). Melbourne, Vic: Pearson Australia.

Flanagan, D.P., & Alfonso, V.C. (2011). Essentials of specific learning disability identification. New Jersey: Wiley. ISBN: 978-0-470-58760-7

Foreman, P., & Arthur-Kelly, M. (Eds.). (2014). Inclusion in action (4th ed.). South Melbourne, Vic: Cengage Learning.

 Pennington, B.F. (2009). Diagnosing learning disorders (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Guilford Press. ISBN: 978-1-59385-714-1

Prior, M. (2002). Understanding specific learning difficulties (2nd ed.). UK: Taylor and Francis.

Westwood, P. (2011). Commonsense methods for children with special needs (6th ed.).Abingdon, England: Routledge.

Westwood, P. (2005). Spelling: approaches to teaching and assessment. Camberwell, Vic: Australian Council for Educational Research.

Westwood, P. (2008). What teachers need to know about reading and writing difficulties.  [online]. Camberwell, Vic: ACER Press.  Availability:  

Woolfolk, A., & Margetts, K. (2013). Educational psychology (3rd ed.). Frenchs Forest, NSW: Pearson Australia.

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