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EDFD632 Reading and Interpreting Research in Education

Unit rationale, description and aim

A defining characteristic of professionals is not just their specialised knowledge but their ability to reflect on that knowledge and to draw upon evidence to revise that knowledge in practice. Thus it is important for educators, as professionals, to be able to consume and conduct research. This unit encourages pre-service teachers to be critical consumers of research and introduces a range of conceptual approaches and techniques in educational research.

The aim of this unit is to ground the pre-service teacher as teacher-researcher to enable them to self-audit pedagogical practices and understand and participate in research in informed and ethical ways.

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 - appraise key research principles, methodological approaches and methods applicable to educational research and professional practice (GA3, GA5; APST 3.6)

LO2 - apply skills in identifying, analysing, and synthesising educational research literature as a source of professional learning (GA3, GA4, GA8; APST 1.2, 6.2, 6.4, 7.4)

LO3 - conceptualise and plan an inquiry-based project in the Secondary teaching area or Primary subject specialisation, established through critical self-auditing of pedagogical practice, with reference to the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers: Graduate (GA4, GA5, GA8; APST 3.6, 6.1)

LO4 - demonstrate in-depth understanding of and apply principles and practices of ethical conduct in human research (GA3, GA7, GA8, GA9; APST 7.1)

LO5 - critique a range of strategies for collecting and analysing data to assess the impact of pedagogical practices on student learning (GA4, GA5, GA8; APST 5.1, 5.3, 5.4, 6.3)

LO6 - communicate in writing in a proficient, professional and scholarly manner (GA9).

Graduate attributes

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

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

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

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

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


On successful completion of this unit, pre-service teachers should be able to:

1.2 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of research into how students learn and the implications for teaching.

3.6 Demonstrate broad knowledge of strategies that can be used to evaluate teaching programs to improve student learning.

5.1 Demonstrate understanding of assessment strategies, including informal and formal, diagnostic, formative and summative approaches to assess student learning.

5.3 Demonstrate understanding of assessment moderation and its application to support consistent and comparable judgements of student learning.

5.4 Demonstrate the capacity to interpret student assessment data to evaluate student learning and modify teaching practice.

6.1 Demonstrate an understanding of the role of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers in identifying professional learning needs.

6.2 Understand the relevant and appropriate sources of professional learning for teachers.

6.3 Seek and apply constructive feedback from supervisors and teachers to improve teaching practices.

6.4 Demonstrate an understanding of the rationale for continued professional learning and the implications for improved student learnings. 

7.1 Understand and apply the key principles described in codes of ethics and conduct for the teaching profession.

7.4 Understand the role of external professionals and community representatives in broadening teachers’ professional knowledge and practice.


Topics will include:

  • The nature of educational research and major approaches and research designs applicable to applied educational research within professional contexts
  • Processes and approaches to defining and justifying a research problem, researchable questions and creating a conceptual framework derived from the literature and self-audit of pedagogical practices and the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers: Graduate
  • Processes for the development of a pedagogical project plan for the Secondary teaching area or Primary subject specialisation
  • Information literacy including principles and tools for identifying and critically reflecting upon high quality research; (literature reviewing, databases, bibliographic tools, research quality)
  • Principles of ethical data collection and analysis techniques commonly used in educational research
  • Strategies to record, interpret and analyse student assessment data in order to evaluate student learning and modify teaching practice.
  • Assessment strategies, including informal and formal, diagnostic, formative and summative approaches to assess student learning
  • Purposes of assessment ‘of learning’, ‘for learning’ and ‘as learning’
  • Principles and practices of assessment moderation and its application to support consistent and comparable judgements of student learning
  • Conventions of professional academic writing and publishing.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Pre-service teachers will be involved in a variety of teaching-learning strategies to progress and demonstrate their understandings in this unit. Participants will be involved in a variety of teaching-learning strategies to support learning, including lectures, workshops, panel discussions, seminars, online materials, interactive online forums, as well as participative large-group discussion and small-group interaction. Learning will be enhanced by weekly readings as specified in the unit material. Assessment tasks are designed to help you develop your capacity to engage in teacher research. 

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

The assessment tasks and their weightings are designed to allow pre-service teachers to progressively demonstrate achievement against the unit learning outcomes and demonstrate attainment of professional standards.

Assessment in this unit is both formative and summative. Formative assessment will be provided through multiple opportunities for reflection, discussion, and feedback including written comments on initial assignment work.

Minimum Achievement Standards

Assessment will relate directly to the achievement of the outcomes. There are three items of summative assessment in the unit.

Unit participants are expected to contextualise the research focus within their subject specialisation or key learning area for primary education students, or major teaching area for secondary education students. This will help them to understand the presented issue and inform their teaching practice in that specialisation or teaching area

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1:

Critical self-audit of pedagogical practices:

  • review attainment of Australian Professional Standards for Teachers: Graduate to identify professional learning needs in order to improve practice.



GA4, GA5, GA8

Assessment Task 2:

A literature review incorporating:

  • a critical analysis of at least six empirical research articles selected from academic peer reviewed journals
  • a synthesis identifying a justifiable and significant research question.


LO2, LO3

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8

Assessment Task 3:

A detailed Research Proposal for a pedagogical project in the teaching area (Secondary) / specialisation (Primary), incorporating:

  • problem statement based on self-audit and student assessment data
  • focused literature review
  • statement of aims/research questions
  • action plan for a pedagogical program / intervention in the teaching area / specialisation
  • research design identifying the ethics, methodology, data sources, assessment strategies, data analysis procedures and timelines
  • references
  • appendices.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4 LO5, LO6

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9

Representative texts and references

Booth, A., Papaioannou, D., & Sutton, A. (2012). Systematic approaches to a successful literature review. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Brady, L., & Kennedy K. (2012). Assessing and reporting: Celebrating student achievement (4th ed.). Frenchs Forest, NSW: Pearson Australia.

Creswell J. W. (2012). Educational research: Planning conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research (4th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.

Denzin, N.K., & Lincoln, Y.S. (2008). Collecting and interpreting qualitative materials. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Fink, A. (2010). Conducting research literature reviews: From the internet to paper. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Johnson, A. P. (2012). A short guide to academic writing (5th ed.). Lanham, MD: University Press of America.

Marshall, C., & Rossman, G. B. (2011). Designing qualitative research (5th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Mertens, D. M. (2015). Research and evaluation in education and psychology (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Neuman, W. L. (2011). Social research methods: Qualitative and quantitative approaches (7th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.

Seiber, J., & Tolich, M. (2013). Planning ethically responsible research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Shadish, W. R., Cook, T. D., & Campbell, D. T. (2002). Experimental and quasi-experimental designs. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Silverman, D. (2010). Doing qualitative research (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Thomas, G. (2013). How to do your research project (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

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