Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit


PSYC630 Psychological Assessment , PSYC645 Learning Difficulties: Assessment and Intervention

Teaching organisation

2.5 hours per week for twelve weeks or equivalent.

Unit rationale, description and aim

Educational and developmental psychologists work with individuals displaying a range of abilities and disabilities across the lifespan. This unit introduces you to groups within the population whose development is exceptional or atypical. The emphasis will be on diagnosis, assessment, and intervention for individuals with one of the major developmental disabilities/disorders such as intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, and language disorders. The unit will also enable you to examine the special needs of gifted children. Research from a range of psychological, clinical, neuropsychological as well as medical fields will inform this unit. The unit aims to prepare you to work with individuals across the lifespan within family, educational, and community settings.

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 - Discuss contemporary theories of developmental psychology and individual differences (GA4,GA9) 

LO2 - Discuss the nature of exceptionalities and the theories and models explaining their effects on development and learning throughout the lifespan (GA4,GA9);

LO3 - Select appropriate and evidence-based interventions and treatments  and their bases (GA8); 

LO4 - Demonstrate skills in a range of interventions/treatments (GA8); 

LO5 - Evaluate intervention outcomes (GA8); 

LO6 - Demonstrate skills in assessment practices (GA8); 

LO7 - Determine extrinsic factors affecting the development and quality of life of people with exceptionalities (GA4,GA8); 

LO8 - Communicate knowledge orally and in written form to varied audiences (GA9). 

Graduate attributes

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

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

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


Topics will include: 


  1. The nature of exceptionality 
  2. Evidence-based and controversial practices  
  3. Assessment and intervention in autism spectrum disorder 
  4. Assessment and intervention in ADHD 
  5. Assessment and intervention in language disorders 
  6. Assessment and intervention with gifted children 
  7. Working in family, school, and community settings 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

The unit is delivered in face-to-face mode with 2.5 contact hours per week. Classes will be conducted in lecture/workshop and will include student presentations. Essential backgound information will be presented as lecture material. Workshop components are designed to enhance application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation of that information. Learning and teaching strategies include active learning, case-based learning, individual and group activities, over the course of the 12 weeks. This range of strategies will provide you with appropriate access to required knowledge and understanding of unit content and to allow you to meet the aim, learning outcomes and graduate attributes of the unit. Learning and teaching strategies will reflect respect for you as an independent learner. You will be expected to take responsibility for your learning and to participate actively within group activities. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

In order to best enable students to demonstrate unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes, standards-based assessment is utilised, consistent with University assessment requirements. Written assignments provide the opportunity for students to demonstrate the capacity to assess, formulate, diagnose and plan  an intervention, in the context of an individual displaying atypical development, and to review the literature relevant to understanding typical and atypical development. Class presentation allows you the opportunity to communicate effectively your knowledge of a topic of your choice to an audience of peers, using audio visual technology and hard copy materials. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Written assignment (2500 word) 

Enables demonstration of the capacity to assess, formulate, diagnose, and plan an intervention, in the context of an individual displaying atypical development 


LO1, LO2, LO7 

GA4, GA8 

Written assignment (1500 words) 

Provides the opportunity to demonstrate the ability to review the literature relevant to understanding typical and atypical development.  


LO3, LO4, LO5, LO6 

GA4, GA8 

Oral presentation (20 mins) 

Provides the opportunity to communicate knowledge of a topic of your choice to an audience of peers, using audio visual technology and hard copy materials. 


LO3, LO4, LO5, LO6, LO8 

GA4, GA8, GA9

Representative texts and references

Howlin, P., Charman, T., & Ghaziddin, M. (2011) (Eds.). The SAGE handbook of developmental disorders. London, UK: Sage. 

Matson, J.L. et al. (2009). Treating childhood psychopathology and intellectual disability. New York, NY: Springer. 

Matson, J.L., & Sturmey, P. (2011). International handbook of autism and pervasive developmental disorders. New York, NY: Springer. 

Odom, S.L., Horner, R. H., Snell, M. E., & Blacher, J. (2007) Handbook of developmental disabilities. New York, NY: Guilford Press. 

Reed, D.D., DiGennaro Reed, F., & Luiselli, J.K. (Eds.) (2013). Handbook of crisis intervention and developmental disabilities. New York, NY: Springer. 

Roth, I., & Rezaie, P. (2011). Researching the autism spectrum: Contemporary perspectives. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. 

Singh, N.N. (Ed.) (2016). Handbook of evidence-based practice in intellectual and developmental disabilities. Cham, Switzerland: Springer. 

Tsakanikos, E., & McCarthy, J. (2014). Handbook of psychopathology in intellectual disability: Research, practice, and policy. New York, NY: Springer. 

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