Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Unit rationale, description and aim

Youth workers and other professions working with young people need understanding and skills in adolescence development: a distinct period of the lifespan influenced by a range of physiological, psychological and social influences that impact on a young person's health and well-being. This unit introduces the concept of adolescent development and examines the diversity of adolescent experience. This subject will address the major areas of physical, cognitive and socio-emotional development in particular issues pertaining to puberty, sexuality and identity. Contemporary socio-cultural factors that influence adolescent development as well as the role of parents, families and peers are considered. The aim of this unit is to equip the youth worker and other professions working with young people with an understanding of the critical health issues that face young people, such as mental health and well-being, relationships, drug and alcohol use, identity and sexuality.

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 - Describe the key biological, cognitive and contextual elements that influence young people’s development (GA1, GA4) 

LO2 - Discuss the relationship between the developmental process and health and wellbeing for young people (GA1, GA5, GA4, GA9) 

LO3 - Explain the predominant theories relating to the development of identity and independence during the transition from adolescence to adulthood (GA4, GA8). 

Graduate attributes

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

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 


  • Theories of adolescent development and identity development (the adolescent brain, mental health, lifespan development and puberty, moral developmental stages) 
  • The role of parents, families and peers in adolescent development. 
  • How adolescent brain development affects logic and reasoning, risk taking and emotions.
  • Insights into key biological, cognitive and contextual elements and how they impact on mental health, self-esteem, body image, drug and alcohol use and relationships.  
  • Adolescent development in family and social contexts including Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander contexts. 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Attendance mode: 

This 10-credit point face-to-face unit provides hands-on learning, including collaborative learning. It takes the form of a face-to-face class incorporating activities through which students will gain a deep understanding of the developing young person and the skills fundamental to the study of young people. Key learning activities in tutorials will include debating, learning to ‘read’ and interpret writing about young people and other key sources, reading, writing, group discussion, finding scholarly sources, and problem-solving. The lectures provide students with content and analytical frameworks necessary for understanding and analysing the young people and assist students to synthesise a broad range of material.  

Online mode:  

This unit engages students in active learning activities, such as reading, writing, discussion and problem-solving to promote analysis, synthesis and evaluation of class content. Working through online modules, students learn through online lectures, where ideas are presented to students and online activities where ideas are explored and discussed through discussion boards and a range of online activities. Students build skills that first year students need and use case studies to explore how what they have learned applies to real world situations. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

In order to pass this unit, students are required to meet all learning outcomes and achieve a final grade of 50% or better as an aggregate of all points from assessment tasks completed in this unit.  

A variety of assessment tasks have been designed to meet the learning outcomes of this unit and to ensure the development of graduate attributes.  

To assist this, the following assessments tasks have been devised: 

The written assessment task requires students to explain how contemporary issues influence young people’s wellbeing. This requires students to understand how multiple biological, cognitive and contextual elements have an impact on adolescents. The reflective task requires students to consider their own experience of being an adolescent and apply theories of adolescent development to this experience. The test will assess students on knowledge obtained throughout the semester in readings, unit materials, lectures and/or discussions. This requires students to apply knowledge, theories, skills and attitudes appropriate to the disciplines and/or professions working with young people.  

The order of assessment tasks may be altered with permission from the Course Implementation Committee. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Written Task 

Students are required to explain how contemporary issues influence young people’s wellbeing 


LO1, LO2 

GA1, GA4, GA9 

Reflective Task 

Students are required to write a letter to their adolescent selves 


LO3, LO4 

GA1, GA4, GA5, GA8 


Students will be tested on knowledge obtained throughout the semester 


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4 

GA1, GA4, GA5, GA8 

Representative texts and references

Blackmore, S-J. (2018). Inventing ourselves: The secret life of the teenage brain. New York: DoubleDay. 

Bamblett, M, Frederico, M, Harrison, J, Jackson, A & Lewis, P 2012, Not one size fits all: Understanding the social & emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal children, La Trobe University Bundoora. 

Doglin, K 2011, The adolescent: Development, relationships and culture, 13th edn, Allyn & Bacon Boston, MA. 

Jensen, F 2015, The teenage brain, Harper, U.S. 

McNeely, C & Blanchard, J 2010, The teen years explained: A guide to healthy adolescent development, Centre for Adolescent Health, John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD. 

Nakkula, M & Tashalis, E 2006, Understanding youth: Adolescent development for educators, Harvard Education Press, Cambridge, MA. 

Pullen, D & Carroll, A 2013, Adolescent wellbeing: Trends, issues and prospects, Australian Clearinghouse of Youth Studies, Hobart, Tas. 

Seigel, D 2014, Brainstorm: The power and purpose of the teenage brain, Tarcher Press.  

Seigel, D 2014, An inside-out guide to the emerging adolescent mind, Ages 12 to 24, Tarcher Press.  

Tomyn, AJ, Cummins, RA & Norrish, JM 2015, ‘The Subjective Wellbeing of ‘At Risk’ Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Australian Adolescents’, Journal of Happiness Studies, vol. 16, no. 4, pp.813-837.  

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