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Unit rationale, description and aim

This unit is designed to develop an understanding of the rationale and implications of the policy and research shift of focus to the middle years of schooling since the early 1990s. Incorporating a whole school framework the unit will explore strategic planning initiatives to meet the needs of middle years of schooling students. Students will be expected to become familiar with available resources and to develop their own resources to facilitate an understanding of the schooling needs of adolescents in the middle years.

This unit aims to assist pre-service teachers develop a critical perspective of emerging issues and a range of instructional designs, learning techniques, and communication strategies appropriate to the middle years of schooling.

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 and critically appraise policy and research initiatives since the early 1990s (GA4, GA8, GA9, GA10; APST 1.2, 1.3, 1.5, 2.1, 2.6, 3.4, 4.4)

LO2 - Synthesise current theoretical/policy understandings toward practical applications in a secondary school (GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9, GA10; APST 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 2.1, 2.6, 3.4, 4.4)

LO3 - Develop instructional design skills through producing an inquiry-based integrated curriculum incorporating at least three KLAs (GA3, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9, GA10; APST 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 2.1, 2.6, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 3.5, 4.1, 4.2, 4.4)

LO4 - Identify and generate a range of resources to support best-practice approaches to teaching and learning for the middle years of schooling. (GA5, GA8; APST 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 2.1, 2.6, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 3.5, 4.1, 4.2, 4.4)

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 

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.

2.6 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.

3.5 Demonstrate a range of verbal and non-verbal communication strategies to support student engagement.

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

4.2 Demonstrate the capacity to organise classroom activities and provide clear directions.

4.4 Describe strategies that support students’ well-being and safety working within school and/or system, curriculum and legislative requirements.


Topics will include:

  • A history of policy and research initiatives since the early 1990s.
  • Issue-based approaches to the middle years eg. transition to Year 7; gender, cultural and socio-economic factors; numeracy and literacy attainment; determining authentic assessment principles and procedures; preventing student alienation and making the experience of school meaningful and joyful.
  • Exploring the concept of middle school pedagogy and its application to issues of student learning in the middle years eg. curriculum integration/correlation as a way to develop student centred learning.
  • Applying integrated/correlation models to reorganise curriculum provision for years 7 and 8.
  • Empowering students through supporting adolescent leadership and initiative eg. making connections to and acting in the local community, making connections and acting in a global community.
  • Review of research directions and how school-based action research may contribute to both theory and practice eg. the centrality of curriculum leadership and coordination to implement effective middle school reform.
  • Locating and generating resources to support curriculum practice and the management of change.

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, and tutorials. Information and communication technologies including web-based resources will be used to enhance delivery and student participation.

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.


The first assignment will focus on issues associated with the concept of middle schooling and its development. The second assignment will incorporate practical applications, for example, the development of an integrated curriculum unit of work exemplifying best practice teaching and learning strategies. 

Minimum Achievement Standards

The assessment tasks for this unit are designed to demonstrate achievement of each learning outcome.

The total assessment requirement will not exceed the equivalent of 3,500 words.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1:

The adolescent learner

Individual task


LO1, LO2

GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9, GA10

Assessment Task 2:

Developing an integrated curriculum unit

 Group task


LO3, LO4

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9, GA10

Representative texts and references

Ainley, J. et al. (1998). Schools and the Social Development of Young Adolescents Melbourne: ACER.

Atkin, J. (1998). Enhancing Learning with Information Technology - Promises, pitfalls and practicalities Seminar series No. 70, Incorporated Association of Registered Teachers of Victoria, Jolimont.

Australian Curriculum Studies Association. (1996). From Alienation to Engagement: Opportunities for Reform in the Middle Years of Schooling  Canberra: Australian Curriculum Studies Association.

Australia's Common and Agreed Goals for Schooling in the Twenty-first century - A review of the 1989 Common and Agreed Goals for Schooling in Australia ('The Hobart Declaration').

A Discussion Paper, May 1998, MCEETYA, National Goals Taskforce.

Cumming, J. (1998). Extending Reform in the Middle Years of Schooling - Challenges and Responses. Canberra: Australian Curriculum Studies Association.

DEET Victoria. (1999). The middle years: A guide to strategic action in Years 5-9. Melbourne: Community Information Service, DEET, Victoria.

Hill, P.W. (1995). School Effectiveness and Improvement: Present Realities and Future Possibilties. Paper presented at inaugural lecture as professor of education (Leadership and Management), Faculty of Education, the University of Melbourne, Melbourne.

Irvin, J. (2000). Middle schooling programs and practices: What research tells us International keynote address, Middle Years of Schooling Conference, Education Foundation, Melbourne.

Munro, J. (1996). Understanding Learning: Theory into Practice. Hawthorn: EdAssist.

Urdan, T, Midgeley, C., & Wood, S. (1995). Special issues in reforming middle level schools. Journal of Early Adolescence, Vol. 5, No. 1.

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