Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Unit rationale, description and aim

This unit is designed to offer pre-service teachers an understanding of the historical context, policy frameworks and socio-cultural realities of schooling for students in Australian schools. Pre-service teachers will investigate the relationship between theory and practice by analysing how the changing economic, political, diverse social and cultural contexts impact upon children, young people and schools as potential sites for social change and justice. The significance of the wider socio-cultural context for education will be introduced through the community engagement program. The community engagement program includes a placement in a community organisation, where pre-service teachers will engage with the functions of that organisation, enhancing their understanding of the contextual factors that impact clients and staff associated with the community that is served by the community organisation.

The aim of this unit is to assist pre-service teachers to extend their understanding of the socio-cultural study of education, the relationship between theory and practice of education, as well as and respect for the social institutions, processes and values which underlie education in a diverse and democratic society, at the same time enhancing their understanding of the common good in action.

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 - Critically analyse the relationship between individual schooling experiences and broader social relations, institutions, and diverse contexts. (GA2, GA4, GA6; APST 1.2, 1.3)

LO2 - Critique the impact of economic, political, social, religious and cultural change on education systems, individuals and families (GA1, GA6; APST 1.4, 1.3, 2.4)

LO3 - Engage in debates about contemporary policy, current issues, values, practices, ethical considerations and educational purposes which impact on education in a democratic society (GA4; APST 1.3, 2.4)

LO4 - Engage with, reflect, interpret and question underlying issues within contemporary educational theory and practice (GA6; APST 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 2.4, 7.4)

LO5 - Critically examine and reflect on unfamiliar problems that challenge their values and beliefs through exposure to diverse contexts experienced during community engagement activities (GA1, GA2, GA6; APST 7.4)

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 

GA6 - Solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account


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.

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

7.4 Understand the role of external professionals and community representatives in broadening teachers’ professional knowledge and practice.


Topics will include:

  • Social justice, diversity and inclusive education
  • Values related to education, to self and others, human rights and civic responsibilities
  • Multiculturalism, respect for diversity and related influences on policy and legislation
  • The work of teachers 
  • Social class, ethnicity and gender differences and their relationship to schooling and educational outcomes
  • The Hidden Curriculum
  • The role of research and its significance in education and to teachers
  • Social theories contribution to understanding education
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students’ experience of Australian schools
  • Socio cultural impacts on community participation
  • Political influences on education policy
  • Economic imperatives and social policy
  • Engaging in community organisations and contexts
  • Technological change, in particular ICT, and its impact on individuals and schools

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. 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.

Pre-service teachers will be able to select an organisation for Community Engagement either from an ACU list of participating community organisations or in another setting which is consistent with the principles of Community Engagement as described in this document and discussed in tutorial classes.

In this 10-credit point unit, participants should anticipate undertaking 150 hours of study, which includes 35 hours of Community Engagement. This unit will be delivered face to face on a weekly basis across a 12-week semester., for a total of 150 hours with a normal expectation of 36 hours of directed study. Directed study might include lectures, tutorials, webinars, podcasts etc. The balance of the hours becomes private study.

This unit also includes Community Engagement Requirements of  35 hours in an approved setting.

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 above.

Minimum Achievement Standards

In order to pass this unit, students are required to complete and pass all assessment tasks and complete 35 hours of community engagement activities.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1:

Scholarly Response

Analysis of one or two socio-cultural issues raised in scholarly journal articles and course content with implications for teaching and learning. Pre-service teachers choose from the following issues:

Social class and inequality (SES):

  • Race and diversity
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and education;
  • Religious diversity;
  • City/country divide

Responses should cover assigned and extended readings and be based on an analysis of issues/ideas raised (not a summary of the readings). A scholarly response may take the form of a literature review, critical analysis essay, annotated PowerPoint, iMovie plus rationale or argumentative essay. This task will be nationally moderated.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA1, GA2, GA4, GA6

Assessment Task 2:


Presentation on a chosen issue selected from the list below.

Pre-service teachers analyse an issue and the implications for schooling drawing on relevant socio cultural theory and wider reading. Pre-service teachers may also draw on their community engagement experiences as examples if they have commenced placement, or contemporary examples if they have yet to undertake community engagement. Duration of the presentation is up to 20 minutes. . The choice of topic must be different from the topic selected for assignment 1. Examples include;

  • Gender and/or Feminism
  • Poverty
  • Disability
  • Homelessness
  • Multiculturalism
  • Refugees and forced migration
  • Racism
  • Government policies
  • Globalisation and economy policies
  • Social justice and ethics
  • Hidden, enacted and intended Curriculum



LO1, LO4

GA2, GA4, GA6

Assessment Task 3

Professional Learning Portfolio and Community Engagement.

This task requires critical self- reflection and analysis of your community engagement experience within the context of socio-cultural factors. The portfolio should go beyond a description to include an analysis of how your beliefs and values were challenged and your learning extended as a result of your community engagement. Critically reflect on your learning during your placement and the implications for schooling and education using examples and annotated artefacts. 

PST must provide the following in their portfolio:

  • Evidence of 35 hours of community engagement
  • 4 x critically reflective journal entries (250 words each)
  • Choice of 3 annotated artefacts, such as photographs, program schedule, diary entry, objects, promotional material etc.(100 words in total)


LO1, LO2, LO5

GA1, GA2, GA4, GA6

Representative texts and references

Apple, M. (2013). Can education change society? Routledge.

Apple, M. (2014). Official knowledge: Democratic education in a conservative age (3rd ed.). Routledge.

Australian Children’s Commissioners and Guardians (2013). Submission to Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse Issues Paper 3 – Child Safe Institutions Principles for Child Safety in Organisations.

Ball, S. (2012). Politics and policy making in education: Explorations in sociology. Taylor and Francis.

Ball, S. (2012). The micro-politics of the school: Towards a theory of school organisation. Routledge.

Connell, R. et al. (2013). Education, change and society. Oxford University Press.

Evans, P. (2013). Educating preservice teachers for family, school and community engagement. Teaching Education (24), 2, 123-133.

Furlong, A. (2007). Young people and social change: New perspectives (2nd ed.). McGraw Hill/Open University Press.

Lareau, A. (2003). Unequal childhoods: class, race, and family Life. University of California Press.

McDonald, M. et al. (2013). Learning to see students: Opportunities to develop relational practices of teaching through community-based placements in teacher education. Teachers College Record, 115, 040304.

Mills, C., & Gale, T. (2010). Schooling in disadvantaged communities: Playing the game from the back of the field. Springer.

Tait, G. (2013). Making sense of mass education. Cambridge University Press.

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