Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Unit rationale, description and aim

At a time of rapid ongoing change as a result of globalisation, internationalisation and developing information communication technologies, the ability of educators and allied professionals to empower young people to attain effective numeracy skills and develop a substantive understanding of mathematics as a language to use in solving problems, making connections and communicating ideas in real life is of critical importance. In this unit students will critically examine educational issues in mathematics education from the perspective of the learner. Students will consider theories of learning with particular emphasis on cognitive development, affect and socio-cultural contexts. Students will analyse, synthesise and evaluate research evidence and consider the implications of the research for equitable access to learning and engagement for all students. Students will also have opportunities to undertake intensive study in areas of particular interest.

The aim of this unit is to equip students with the advanced knowledge, integrated understanding and expert skills to critically examine educational issues in mathematics education and to develop a deep understanding of learners' conceptual development as well as curriculum and instructional planning in specific domains of mathematics education.

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 - Examine theories about cognitive development related to the learning of mathematics with and consider the implications of the theories for practice (GA1, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9, GA10; APST 1.1H, 1.2H, 2.5H) 

LO2 - Analyse the influence of affect and socio-cultural contexts on the learning of mathematics with particular focus on equity and engagement (GA1, GA2, GA9, GA10; APST 1.3HA, 1.4HA, 2.5HA, 4.1HA) 

LO3 - Evaluate specific learning areas in mathematics with respect to important concepts, common learning difficulties, the use of contexts, language, symbols and other representations, and effective learning experiences (GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9, GA10; APST 1.1HA, 2.5HA, 5.1HA, 5.4HA) 

LO4 - Analyse the extent to which relevant curricula and common classroom practices align with the messages about learning from research in mathematics education (GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9, GA10; APST 1.1HA, 1.2HA, 1.3HA, 2.5HA, 4.1HA, 5.1HA, 5.4HA). 

Graduate attributes

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

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

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

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

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 

GA10 - utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively.


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

1.1      Physical, social and intellectual development and characteristics of students (Highly Accomplished)

1.2      Understand how students learn (Highly Accomplished)

1.3        Students with diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds (Highly Accomplished)

1.4      Strategies for teaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island students (Highly Accomplished)

2.5      Literacy and numeracy strategies (Highly Accomplished)

4.1      Support student participation (Highly Accomplished)

5.1      Assess student learning (Highly Accomplished)

5.4      Interpret student data (Highly Accomplished).


The content of the unit is developed across three modules, which focus upon theories of cognitive development in mathematics, research relevant to mathematics learning and student learning in mathematics across six specific domains.

  • Theories of cognitive development in mathematics, including social-constructivism (LO1)
  • Research about the significance of the affective domain, language and semiotics, and socio-cultural contexts, and the implications of these considerations for equity and engagement (LO2)
  • Learning of students in the early years through to middle school in the following topics, including links to the Australian National Curriculum, use of contexts, language, symbols, and representations, significant concepts (and misconceptions), and the characteristics of effective learning experiences LO3, LO4): whole number and operations;
  • rational number and proportional reasoning;
  • algebraic thinking;
  • measurement;
  • spatial visualisation;
  • statistics and probability.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit is offered in fully online mode via the unit LEO (learning environment online) site. Engagement for learning is the key driver in the delivery of this curriculum, therefore an active learning approach is utilised to support students in their exploration and demonstration of achievement of the unit’s identified learning outcomes. A range of strategies will be used to support active learning and may include: online tutorials, workshops and seminars; synchronous and/or asynchronous digital engagement in reading/library tasks and presentations, learning activities, discussion forums and consultation as mediated through the LEO unit site. The set tasks are structured to facilitate active graduate involvement, critical reading and reflection, and discussions focused on key issues and research findings in the learning of mathematics as well as implications for practice. Students will study all modules but will choose two areas of particular interest around which to focus their assignments.   

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 learning mathematics.  

The first task is issues based; the second task focuses on the learning mathematics within a particular domain. 

The total assessment will be equivalent to 5,500 words. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1

Issue related to the learning of mathematics.

Students will be required to focus on one of the following issues: theories of cognitive development, the relationship between affect and learning, social-cultural contexts or equity and engagement


LO1, LO2

GA1, GA2,

GA4, GA5,

GA8, GA9, GA10

Assessment Task 2

Issue related to the learning of mathematics within a particular domain.

A written or oral presentation focusing on issues related to the learning of a particular domain of mathematics. The essay will contain a literature review of research into learners’ conceptual development in the domain, a critique of the treatment of the domain in relevant curricula, and application of the findings through planning and teaching a unit of work


LO3, LO4

GA4, GA5,

GA8, GA9, GA10

Representative texts and references

Forgasz, H. J. & Leder, G. C. (2017). Persistent gender inequities in mathematics achievement and expectations in Australia, Canada and the UK. Mathematics Education Research Journal, 29(3), 261-282.

Jorgensen, R. & Wagner, D. (2013). Special issue: Mathematics education with/for indigenous people. Mathematics Education Research Journal, 25(1), 1-3.

Rittle-Johnson, B., Schmneider, M. & Satr, J. R. (2015). Not a one-way street: Bidirectional relations between procedural and conceptual knowledge of mathematics. Educational Psychology Review, 27(4), 587-597.

Scheiner, T. (2016). New light on old horizon: Constructing mathematical concepts, underlying abstraction processes, and sense making strategies. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 91(2), 165-183.

Thomson, S., de Bortoli, L. & Underwood, C. (2017). PISA 2015: Reporting Australia’s result. Camberwell, Australia: Australian Council for Educational Research. CER. Retrieved from au/cgi/ viewcontent.cgi?article=1023&context=ozpisa

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