Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Teaching organisation

150 hours of focused learning.

Unit rationale, description and aim

Health care is focussed on the person – generally at a time of great vulnerability. This unit is required by students to assist them in understanding the people they will interact with in clinical practice through an understanding of human behaviour. 


This unit focuses on the person as the centre of the health care experience. Health and wellness will be explored from a biopsychosocial and lifespan perspective. Psychological concepts and theories underpinning human behaviour, health behaviour acquisition, therapeutic communication and health behaviour change will be introduced. These concepts will be applied to the personal and professional self and then to practice. The unit will include a module on working with specific vulnerable populations that will focus on responding to concerns and strategies to keep ourselves and others safe and support these individuals and groups.   


The aim of this unit is to assist students to perform person-centred care and focus on the outcomes which are best for the person and/or groups they care for and interact with.   

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 - Demonstrate understanding of the person from a lifespan perspective, taking into consideration biopsychosocial factors and the person’s life experience; (GA1, 5) 

LO2 - Describe the role of resilience in human behaviour; (GA5) 

LO3 - Demonstrate an understanding of psychological concepts and theories of human behaviour, health and wellbeing; (GA6) 

LO4 - Apply the psychological concepts and theories of human behaviour, health and wellbeing to health behaviour change; (GA6) 

LO5 - Explain the theoretical and professional dimensions of communication and demonstrate the ability to work respectfully with others. (GA9) 

LO6 - Demonstrate an understanding of the importance, policies and strategies for building safe and supportive environments for working with specific vulnerable populations (GA1, GA5) 

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

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


The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia’s Registered Nurse Standards for Practice developed in this unit are: 

Standard/Attributes/CriteriaLearning Outcomes

1. Thinks critically and analyses nursing practice.  

1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.5, 1.7 

LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

2. Engages in therapeutic and professional relationships. 

2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.7 

LO4, LO5 

3. Maintains the capability for practice. 

3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.7 

LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

4. Comprehensively conducts assessments. 

4.2, 4.3, 4.4

LO1, LO3, LO5 

5. Develops a plan for nursing practice. 


LO3, LO4, LO5 

6. Provides safe, appropriate and responsive quality nursing practice. 

6.1, 6.2, 6.5, 6.6 

LO3, LO4, LO5

7. Evaluates outcomes to inform nursing practice. 

7.1, 7.2, 7.3

LO1, LO3, LO5 


Topics will include: 

  • Becoming a health professional: 
  • Working with people 
  • Self-awareness 
  • Professional communication 
  • Therapeutic Use of Self  
  • Active listening skills 
  • Therapeutic use of professional relationships 
  • Biopsychosocial approaches to understanding health and health behaviour 
  • The effects of social class, gender and ethnicity on health behaviour 
  • Human behaviour: 
  • Lifespan development: psychosocial and cognitive 
  • Family: forms, functions and roles 
  • How people learn: learning models and theories 
  • Personality  
  • Personality and health 
  • Health behaviour: 
  • Models of health behaviour 
  • Importance of understanding health behaviour: National Health Priorities 
  • Health behaviour change: 
  • Health behaviour change models  
  • Foundation skills for behaviour change: therapeutic communication; professional boundaries Approaches to behaviour change 
  • Introduction to Motivational Interviewing 
  • Building Resilience: 
  • Healthcare consumers 
  • Health professionals 
  • Building safe and supportive environments working with specific vulnerable populations 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit requires students to undertake 150 hours of focused learning to achieve the unit learning outcomes. Modes of delivery in this unit include lectures, tutorials, online activities and self-directed study. The ‘ACU Child-safe Organisations’ module is an online module that will take approximately two hours to complete. Successful participants will be given a record of completion.

Consistent with adult learning principles, the teaching and learning strategies used within these modes of delivery will provide students with foundational knowledge and skills relevant to professional nursing practice. These strategies will also support students in meeting the aim, learning outcomes and graduate attributes of the unit and the broader course learning outcomes. Learning and teaching strategies will reflect respect for the individual as an independent learner. Students will be expected to take responsibility for their learning and to participate actively with peers.


Students entering university need significant support to transition into a learning and teaching environment where they are required to drive their own learning. To guide students in their learning, feedback is required to identify what is being done well, what requires additional work and to identify progress toward required learning outcomes. Located in the first year of the programme, this theory unit includes significant face-to-face teaching hours and a directed online component to introduce students to managing their study off-campus. Lectures are utilised to convey content and its central principles while tutorials deliver interactive learning sessions which include formative feedback to build foundational tertiary study skills while also providing an opportunity to establish group-work and learning community skills. Online materials are introduced to provide students with a foundation for ongoing, directed, self-motivated study.

Assessment strategy and rationale

A range of assessment items consistent with University assessment requirements and policy will be used to ensure students achieve the unit learning outcomes and attain the graduate attributes. These assessments are required to build student knowledge and skills which, by the conclusion of this programme, will enable the student to graduate as a safe and effective nurse. 


Caring for people requires health care professionals to understand the needs of all – particularly those who are most vulnerable and least able to advocate for themselves. The mandatory ‘ACU Child-safe Organisations’ module ensures a sound understanding of the principles of working with specific vulnerable populations. The online quizzes provide students with an opportunity for early, low stakes assessment to measure their progress within the unit and to adjust their study habits accordingly. The written assessment examines the understanding of the person from a lifespan perspective taking into consideration the role of resilience in human behaviour and personal experience with behavioural change. The communication skill critique is required to ensure students understand the basis of communication and engagement with individuals and groups – a skill central to working within a person-centred profession. The variety in these unit assessments is required to ensure students are able to communicate with both the individual and the group across a range of settings – all health care professionals require sound communication skills for successful graduate practice in person-centred professions.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

‘ACU Child-safe Organisations’ 

Note: Completion of this module does not exempt students from seeking a Working with Children Card or a Police Check where this is appropriate or mandated.



GA1, GA5 

Quizzes (early, low stakes assessment)


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA1, GA5, GA6, 

Written Assessment

(personal experience with behavioural change) 


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4 

GA1, GA5

Communication Skill Critique: group work with individual allocation of grades 

(communication activity - engaging with individuals and groups) 


LO4, LO5 

GA6, GA9

Representative texts and references

Barkway, P. (2013). Psychology for health professionals (2nd ed.). Sydney, N.S.W.: Churchill Livingstone/ Elsevier.

Bernstein, D.A., Pooly, J.A., Cohen, L., Gouldthorp, B., Provost, S., Cranney, J.,  … & Roy, E.J. (2013). Psychology: An international discipline in context (Australian and New Zealand ed. South Melbourne: Cengage.

Brannon, L., Feist, J., & Updegraff, J.A. (2014). Health psychology: An introduction to behavior and health (8th ed.). Australia: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning.

Honeycutt A., & Milliken M. (2012). Understanding human behavior (8th ed.). New York, NY: Delmar/Cengage.

Rana, D., & Upton D. (2013). Psychology for nurses. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

Rollnick, S., Miller, W.R., & Butler, C.C. (2012). Motivational interviewing: Helping people change (3rd ed.)New York, NY: Guildford Press.

Sigelman, C., Rider, E., & De George-Walker L. (2015). Lifespan human development  (2nd Australian and New Zealand ed.). South Melbourne, Vic.: Cengage.

Webb, L. (2011). Nursing: communication skills in practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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