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EDSS503 - Humanities and Social Sciences Education, EDSS600 Humanities and Social Sciences Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment (F-6) , EDSS697 Humanities Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment (B-12)

Unit rationale, description and aim

To be an effective primary Humanities and Social Sciences (HASS) teacher, pre-service teachers need to understand how Humanities and Social Sciences enable students, as twenty-first century learners, to re-conceptualise and make sense of the world around them.

This unit will focus on development of pre-service teachers’ knowledge and skills related to the teaching of HASS in early childhood and primary school educational contexts. Particular focus will be given to advancing pre-service teachers’ understanding and knowledge of strategies and techniques such as concept-based inquiry learning and the use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT). This unit is underpinned by the Australian Curriculum: Humanities and Social Sciences framework, the Early Years Learning Framework and other relevant curriculum frameworks related to history, geography, civics and citizenship, economics and business.

Pre-service teachers will examine key concepts related to HASS education in twenty-first century schooling in order to structure, resource and execute learning experiences to progress each child’s social, environmental and experiential learning. Particular emphasis is placed on expanding pre-service teacher’s understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, knowledge and learning and its influence on Australia’s modern development; KLA integration; literacy and numeracy in HASS contexts as well as pedagogical practice and critical thinking skills with links to real-world issues important to developing critical and creative students as active and informed citizens.

The aim of this unit is to provide pre-service teachers with best practice pedagogical and discipline specific knowledge, enabling them to address the needs of students to effectively teach HASS.

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 - Articulate an in-depth understanding of knowledge, skill and values development within, and the rationale and principles underpinning, the Australian Curriculum: Humanities and Social Sciences and Early Years Learning Framework (GA1, GA2, GA5; APST 2.1, 6.2; ACECQA B1, B2, B6)

LO2 - Research and critically analyse a range of pedagogical approaches and teaching resources (including inquiry-based learning, the ethical use of ICT, and literacy/numeracy learning), and how these connect to the Australian Curriculum: Humanities and Social Sciences and other relevant curricula/frameworks (GA4, GA5, GA9; APST 1.2, 2.1, 2.5, 2.6, 3.3, 3.4, 4.5; ACECQA B6, C4)

LO3 - Describe a broad knowledge and understanding of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and language and analyse the impact of these on the education of children from Indigenous backgrounds and implications for teaching practice (GA1, GA5; APST 1.4, 2.4; ACECQA D3, D4, D5)

LO4 - Develop inclusive and culturally appropriate units of work incorporating content and resources which are responsive to the strengths and needs of learners of diverse abilities and from diverse backgrounds, (GA1, GA8, GA9, GA10; APST 1.3, 1.5, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 3.1, 3.2, 3.4, 4.1; ACECQA B6, B9, C4, C5, D3, D4, D5)

LO5 - Design effective and reliable assessment and moderation strategies to analyse student learning, and interpret student assessment data to evaluate and modify teaching practice, (GA4, GA8, GA9; APST 2.1, 2.3, 3.3, 3.6, 5.1, 5.3, 5.4, 5.5, ACECQA C1, C4, D4)

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, pre-service teachers should be able to:

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

1.3 Demonstrate knowledge of teaching strategies that are responsive to the learning strengths and needs of students from diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds.

1.4 Demonstrate broad knowledge and understanding of the impact of culture, cultural identity and linguistic background on the education of students from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds.

1.5 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of strategies for differentiating teaching to meet the specific learning needs of students across the full range of abilities. 

2.1 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the concepts, substance and structure of the content and teaching strategies of the teaching area.

2.2 Organise content into an effective learning and teaching sequence.

2.3 Use curriculum, assessment and reporting knowledge to design learning sequences and lesson plans.

2.4 Demonstrate broad knowledge of, understanding of, and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and languages.

2.5 Know and understand literacy and numeracy teaching strategies and their application in teaching areas.

2.6 Implement teaching strategies for using ICT to expand curriculum learning opportunities for students.

3.1 Set learning goals that provide achievable challenges for students of varying abilities and characteristics.

3.2 Plan lesson sequences using knowledge of student learning, content and effective teaching strategies.

3.3 Include a range of teaching strategies.

3.4 Demonstrate knowledge of a range of resources, including ICT, that engage students in their learning.

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

4.1 Identify strategies to support inclusive student participation and engagement in classroom activities.

4.5 Demonstrate an understanding of the relevant issues and the strategies available to support the safe, responsible and ethical use of ICT in learning and teaching.

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.

5.5 Demonstrate understanding of a range of strategies for reporting to students and parents/carers and the purpose of keeping accurate and reliable records of student achievement.

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

ACECQA Curriculum Specifications

On successful completion of this unit, pre-service teachers should have developed the following specific knowledge:

B.     Education and curriculum studies 

B1. Early Years Learning Framework

B2. The Australian curriculum

B6. Social and environmental education

B9. Curriculum planning, programming and evaluation

C.     Early childhood pedagogies           

C1. Alternative pedagogies and curriculum approaches

C4. Teaching methods and strategies

C5. Catering to children with diverse needs and backgrounds

D.     Families and community partnerships       

D3. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives

D4. Socially inclusive practice

D5. Culture, diversity and inclusion


This unit places emphasis on teaching and learning through Concept-based Inquiry. The following concepts allow for real-world, authentic and interdisciplinary engagement in History, Geography, Civics and Citizenship, and Economics and Business content relevant to 21st century classrooms. Cross curriculum priorities including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures; Asia and Australia’s Engagement with Asia and Sustainability are presented throughout the course to be applicable to the delivery and incorporation of each Concept.

Topics will include:

  • People and Place
  • Place and identity
  • Environmental management
  • Intercultural understanding
  • A Diverse and Connected World
  • Global interdependence, cultural identity and economic relationships
  • Migrant stories: history from below, influences on Australian culture
  • Refugee stories, seeking Asylum and social justice
  • Perspectives and Empathic Understanding
  • First contact and intergenerational impact
  • Freedom, citizenship and civic responsibility
  • Cause and Effect
  • Democracy and Human Rights
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander land and water management
  • Celebration and Commemoration
  • Contestability and significance
  • Who writes the history books?
  • Environmental challenges
  • “Truth telling” – a vision for the future of Australia

The course scaffolds to students in learning about:

  • Core rationales for Humanities and Social Sciences education in the primary school within the context of the 2019 Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Education Declaration: Education Goals for Young Australians, and the National Quality Framework Early Years Learning Framework
  • Use of digital technologies pedagogies to support student learning to develop critical thinking skills
  • Planning and implementing action based and wicked problems in the HASS classroom
  • Planning, implementation, assessment, evaluation and reporting strategies
  • The appropriate selection, usage and evaluation of resources and inquiry-based/ problem-based models for teaching Social Science/Humanities education in primary school
  • Strategies to access and effectively use community resources for authentic learning.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

To address different contexts of students and maximise accessibility of the unit, the unit may be taught across three modes of delivery. This can involve a combination of face-to-face, online and blended delivery, on a weekly basis across a 12-week semester or equivalent in intensive mode. Pre-service teachers should expect to participate in a range of the following: online engagement, lectures, tutorials, seminar presentations and group discussions, both online and face-to-face, self-directed study activities and assessment tasks. Some participation in appropriate educational settings may be required. Lectures will present students with theoretical and empirical research underpinning HASS education in global and Australian contexts. Linking theory to practice, tutorials will provide students with opportunity to unpack, discuss and enact practices informed by research in teaching HASS in the primary classroom. 

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. 

Technology Enhanced Learning

Technology use will be modelled by the teaching team to reflect the nature of technology in primary schools and early childhood contexts. Student online platforms will include the Learning Management System (LMS). Online materials will be available in advance and as post-learning material. The announcements platform will serve as the main communication platform for all students. The use of forums will be made available if required. 

Face-to-face/Online Learning support

Students enrolled in both face to face and online learning modes are required to regularly log into the LMS to access recorded lectures and important announcements, to communicate with other students and lecturers, and to submit assessments and access feedback and grades. Students who are enrolled in either face to face or online learning will have equal access to support from the lecturer in charge and tutors.

Additional equipment requirements for online learning:

  • Reliable broadband access is recommended.
  • Headset with microphone to listen to podcasts, view videos and interact in synchronous classes.

ACU Online

This unit uses an active learning approach to support students in the exploration of knowledge essential to the discipline. Students are provided with choice and variety in how they learn. Students are encouraged to contribute to asynchronous weekly discussions. Active learning opportunities provide students with opportunities to practice and apply their learning in situations similar to their future professions. Activities encourage students to bring their own examples to demonstrate understanding, application and engage constructively with their peers. Students receive regular and timely feedback on their learning, which includes information on their progress.

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment tasks adopt a variety of assessment strategies that include individual tasks requiring research and digital technology skills, critical discussion written report, as well as inquiry-based program writing and lesson planning. These modes of assessment have been selected as they underpin the investigative nature of HASS and whilst challenging pre-service teachers to develop new skills in digital technologies and pedagogical practice.

The assessment tasks and their weightings are designed to allow pre-service teachers to progressively demonstrate achievement against the unit learning outcomes. The assessment tasks engage pre-service teachers in exploring sub-strands of the Australian Curriculum: Humanities and Social Sciences. The first assessment is a critical discussion paper and critical analysis of documents building pre-service teacher research skills. The second assessment task requires pre-service teachers to critique resources and their appropriateness to expand learning opportunities for students with a focus on digital technologies through the permeable classroom. The final assessment task uses inquiry pedagogy for pre-service teachers as part of a group to construct an integrated program for one of the sub-strands in Australian Curriculum: HASS and sequence of lessons. This task builds pre-service teachers’ pedagogical practice and content knowledge in HASS. These three types of assessments involve a variety of tasks to challenge students’ learning and enable differentiation of achievement and be equitable and ethical. The assessments engage pre-service teachers in diverse forms of communication including: A presentation, a resource portfolio and a report.

A range of assessment procedures will be used to meet the unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes consistent with University assessment requirements.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1

Research and critical discussion paper in which students consider:

  • The purpose and key influences of humanities teaching in the early years and primary school 
  • Conceptual knowledge and rationale of humanities curricula
  • National and state curriculum documents at early childhood and primary level
  • Pedagogical approaches appropriate to early childhood and primary years teaching of humanities
  • Relevant elements of society and ways in which these contribute to an informed humanities curriculum.
  • an Indigenous perspective (culture, cultural identity, histories, languages)



GA1, GA2, GA5

Assessment Task 2

Digital Learning Resource (Site Visit)

Creation of a digital learning resource (website) on a site study visit (Weebly, WordPress) with links to current and relevant curriculum documents. Engage with community resources as an integral part of humanities education, engagement with Web 2.0 resources and establishment of collegial working environments. Develop a portfolio of ready-to-use classroom resources for a selected stage, and content strand. The digital resources should effectively contribute to student learning about a significant site/community resource, and the associated learning prior and post visit. Pre-service teachers must visit their chosen site as part of this task. The chosen topic may be linked to the group program in AT 3 below.

 Discuss the access to, and verification of, information used on your website and how copyright, plagiarism and censorship have been managed. 


LO1, LO2

GA1, GA2, GA4, GA5, GA9

Assessment Task 3

Unit and Lesson Plan

Part A: Unit Plan (Group)

In groups of 3-4, prepare a unit of work from the Australian Curriculum or relevant State based resources for Years F-6. It must demonstrate pre-service teachers’ ability to plan, develop and implement a unit of work, meeting the needs of diverse learners, from the syllabus and be underpinned by inquiry principles. Pre-service teachers should demonstrate a variety of pedagogical strategies and develop resources ready for classroom use to teach this unit. Clear evidence of cross-curriculum priorities as well as literacy and numeracy and the ethical use of ICT should be embedded within the work. Processes of record keeping and strategies for feedback and reporting to students and their parents/carers need to be included. The unit of work can be submitted as a hardcopy/ web developed resource/combination of the two.


Part B: Lesson Plan/Discrete Teaching


Select and develop a detailed lesson plan from the Unit of Work. This lesson should incorporate sound inquiry pedagogy and demonstrate clear links to the overall unit and syllabus document. Original classroom ready resources to teach the lesson must be included. Strategies to develop literacy, numeracy, ICT as well as cross-curricular priorities should be evident within the lesson plan.

50% total

A: 30%

B: 20%

LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

GA1, GA2, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9, GA10

Representative texts and references

Required Text(s)

Relevant national, state and territory curriculum documents primary settings.

Recommended references

Bowes, J. M., & Grace, R. (2012). Children, families and communities: Contexts and consequences (4th ed.). South Melbourne, Vic: Oxford University Press.

Browett, J., & Ashman, G. (2011). Thinking globally: Global perspectives in the early years classroom. Carlton South, Vic: Education Services Australia.

Gilbert, R. (Ed.). (2012). Studying society and environment. South Melbourne, Vic: Macmillan Education.

Gilbert, R., & Hoepper, B. (Eds). (2019). Teaching humanities and social sciences: History, geography, economics and citizenship in the Australian curriculum (7th ed.). South Melbourne, Vic: Cengage Learning.

Langton, M. (2019). Welcome to country: An introduction to our First Peoples for young Australians. South Yarra, Vic: Explore Australia.

Marsh, C., & Hart, C. (2011). Teaching the social sciences and humanities in an Australian curriculum (6th ed.). Frenchs Forest, NSW: Pearson Australia.

Pascoe, Bruce. (2018) Dark Emu: Aboriginal Australia and the birth of agriculture, Broom, WA: Magabala Books.

Reynolds, R. (2019). Teaching humanities and social sciences in the primary school (4th ed.). South Melbourne, Vic: Oxford University Press.

Taylor, T., Fahey, C., Kriewalt, J., & Boon, D. (2018). Place and time: Explorations in teaching history and geography (2nd ed.). Frenchs Forest, NSW: Pearson Australia.

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