Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Unit rationale, description and aim

This unit aims to develop understandings of contemporary early years’ pedagogical practices, and their applicability to learning across early childhood and primary settings. Play is recognised as a complex learning pedagogy that actively engages children and provides agency in their learning. Play-based learning and inquiry is critically interrogated in relation to: broader ecological, social and cultural contexts of learning; diversity of experiences; relationships in children’s lives; nature and needs of young learners; and opportunities for play-based learning across disciplines and age-levels. Knowledge and understanding of historical and contemporary developments in play-based and other early years’ pedagogies is developed. Pre-service teachers will critically examine 21st century approaches to learning in the early years and the role of the teacher as active, intentional facilitator and provocateur. They will reference current curriculum documents in applying early years’ pedagogies, principles and perspectives to contemporary curriculum and assessment. Pre-service teachers will explore teaching approaches and strategies for facilitating young children’s learning and transitions, with particular attention given to play-based learning. Appropriate planning and assessment techniques and strategies, including documentation and reporting of data and evidence, will be examined for their role in promoting successful learning and engagement of children and families in the early years.

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 - Engage in critical consideration of diverse philosophical and cultural-historical perspectives and theories of play and learning that have informed contemporary early years learning and teaching approaches (GA1, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9; APST 1.2, 1.3, 2.1; ACECQA B1, B2, C1, C2, C7, E1, E2, E3)

LO2 - Articulate a professional philosophy that embodies contemporary approaches to early learning, teaching and assessment, and which demonstrates an awareness of equity, social justice and respect for diverse human experiences and is responsive to contemporary constructions of children and childhood (GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9; APST 1.3, 3.6, 7.1, 7.2; ACECQA C1, C2, C7, E3, F3)

LO3 - Draw on research, understandings of young learners and relevant curriculum documents to intentionally select effective teaching methods, environments and resources (human and physical) which facilitate inclusive, engaging learning experiences which include play-based learning and are responsive to diverse experiences young children bring to their learning (GA4, GA5, GA8; APST 1.2, 1.5, 1.6; ACECQA B1, B2, B9, C1, C2, C3)

LO4 - Demonstrate awareness of ways in which play-based experiences can support children’s learning and development across a range of contexts, curriculum disciplines and age levels and can effectively support children’s wellbeing as they transition from prior-to-school to school contexts (GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9; APST 1.2, 1.3, 1.5, 2.1; ACECQA A4, A6, A8, B1, B2, B9, C1, C2, D4)

LO5 - Demonstrate knowledge of and purpose for a range of appropriate assessment techniques, including effective documentation and reporting, that enhance planning for learning and engagement of children and families in this learning (GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9; APST 2.3, 5.1, 5.5; ACECQA B1, B2, B9, C1, C2, C4).

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 


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.

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

1.6 Demonstrate broad knowledge and understanding of legislative requirements and teaching strategies that support participation and learning of students with disability.

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

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

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

5.1 Demonstrate understanding of assessment strategies, including informal and formal, diagnostic, formative and summative approaches to assess student learning.

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.

7.1 Understand and apply the key principles described in codes of ethics and conduct for the teaching profession.

7.2 Understand the relevant legislative, administrative and organisational policies and processes required for teachers according to school stage.

ACECQA Curriculum Specifications

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

A Child development and care

A4 Child health, wellbeing and safety

A6 Diversity, difference and inclusivity

A8 Transitions and continuity of learning (including transition to school)

B Education and curriculum studies

B1 Early Years Learning Framework

B2 The Australian curriculum

B9 Curriculum planning, programming and evaluation

C Teaching pedagogies

C1 Alternative pedagogies and curriculum approaches

C2 Play based pedagogies

C3 Guiding behaviour and engaging young learners

C4 Teaching methods and strategies

C7 Contemporary society and pedagogy

D Family and community contexts

D4 Socially inclusive practice

E History and philosophy of early childhood

E1 Historical and comparative perspectives

E2 Contemporary theories and practice

E3 Ethics and professional practice

F Early childhood professional practice

F3 Professional identity and development


The content of this unit will include the following areas of investigation:

  • Philosophical and cultural-historical perspectives and theories informing contemporary learning and teaching practices, with a specific focus on the early years including images of children and childhood.
  • Historical and contemporary definitions and types of play including consideration of cultural influences on understandings and pedagogical roles of teachers.
  • The importance and potential of play in early childhood and school settings - connecting to curriculum (EYLF & Australian Curriculum) and integrating curriculum areas.
  • Considerations that facilitate engaged children’s play: human and physical environments and resources including teaching strategies and approaches.   
  • Assessment and reporting/sharing practices in play-based pedagogies that recognise children’s diverse capacities from multiple standpoints. 
  • Documentation, assessment and reporting/sharing that makes children’s competence and learning visible to children, families, colleagues and other professionals in both early childhood and primary settings.
  • Play and inquiry from multiple perspectives including Indigenous perspectives, gender and culture.
  • Opportunities to address marginalisation through facilitation of intentional teaching strategies, manipulation of the environment and selection of resources.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Engagement for learning is the key driver in the delivery of this curriculum which is offered in online mode. A range of teaching and learning strategies are employed to reflect technology-enhanced learning in developing pre-service teachers’ knowledge and understanding of early years’ pedagogies and related planning, teaching and assessment approaches, practices and strategies. These include synchronous and/or asynchronous digital engagement in: interactive learning activities and experiences; student-led discussion forums and group work; directed reading activities; and ICT as a pedagogical tool for learning and assessment. In particular, activities and resources will facilitate pre-service teachers actively exploring and engaging with a range of early years’ pedagogical practices and approaches, including play-based pedagogies, which will then be reflected on through the online environment. Pre-service teachers will also engage in purposeful observation of and participation in early years’ pedagogies in work-integrated learning mediated through the related placement unit, EDFX633. 

Technology Enhanced Learning  

The online teaching and learning in this unit will be offered via a LEO unit site. Lectures, lecture summaries and/or tutorial activities may be recorded to support student learning. Pre-service teachers will be notified when an activity is being recorded prior to the commencement of the activity.

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment tasks and their weightings allow pre-service teachers to progressively demonstrate achievement against the course learning outcomes by demonstrating academic and professional standards through demonstration of the unit learning outcomes. The Education Studies units in this course focus on developing understanding of and skills across the professional knowledge, practice and engagement needed to meet expectations of ACECQA criteria and the APST: Graduate level. In EDFD693 the assessment focuses on demonstrating knowledge and understanding of early years’ pedagogies and their application with learners in early childhood and primary school settings. The two assessment tasks are sequenced to allow feedback and progressive development in: demonstrating knowledge of pedagogies for early learners (Task 1); and applying knowledge of early learning pedagogies to planning learning experiences for a group of early learners within a selected educational context (Task 2). The tasks are equally weighted to reflect the need for pre-service teachers to demonstrate broad knowledge of a range of pedagogies (Task 1) whilst also demonstrating skills in applying pedagogical practices in specific educational contexts (Task 2).

A range of assessment procedures are used to meet the unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes and professional standards and criteria consistent with University assessment requirements. (

Minimum Achievement Standards

The assessment tasks for this unit are designed for pre-service teachers to demonstrate achievement of each learning outcome. In order to pass this unit, pre-service teachers are required to successfully complete all assessment tasks.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1

Literature Review

Extended critical analysis of research literature pertaining to early childhood, learning and pedagogy, and application to a statement of professional philosophy of pedagogy and learning for children (Birth to 12).


LO1, LO2

GA1, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9

Assessment Task 2

Pedagogical Case Study

Design and implement a pedagogical case study into planning, teaching and assessing the effectiveness of play-based pedagogies for a specific learning context in the early years, aged 3-8.


LO3, LO4, LO5

GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9

Representative texts and references

Required Text 

Fleer, M. (2017). Play in the early years (2nd ed.). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Recommended References 

Ailwood, J., Boyd, W., & Theobald, M. (2016). Understanding early childhood education and care in Australia. Practices and perspectives. Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin.

Browne, F., & Patte, M. (2013). Rethinking children’s play. London, UK: Bloomsbury Publishing.

Ebbeck, E., & Waniganayake, M. (Eds.). (2016). Play in early childhood education. Learning in diverse contexts (2nd ed.). South Melbourne, Vic: Oxford University Press. 

Fleer, M. (2010). Early learning and development. Cultural-historical concepts in play. Melbourne: Cambridge University Press. 

Fleer, M. (2014). Theorising play in the early years. Melbourne: Cambridge University Press.

Genishi, C., & Goodwin, A. L. (2008). Diversities in early childhood education: Rethinking and doing. New York: Routledge.

Fleet, A., Patterson, C., & Robertson, J. (Eds.). (2006). Insights: Behind early childhood pedagogical documentation. Castle Hill, NSW: Pademelon Press.

MacNaughton, G., Hughes, P., & Smith, K. (Eds) (2008). Young children as active citizens: Principles, policies and pedagogies. Newcastle, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. 

Pendergast, D., & Garvis, S. (2013). (Eds.). Teaching early years curriculum, pedagogy and assessment. Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin.

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