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EDFX173 Understanding the Psychology of Learning in Diverse Communities

Unit rationale, description and aim

Within the context of relevant legislation, national frameworks, policy and curriculum documents, the notion of teaching for social justice, personal safety, and wellbeing is applied to develop personal and social capabilities and meet the diverse needs of children and young people. The unit particularly focuses on the areas of gifted and talented, additional learning and support needs, those for whom English is an additional language or dialect and refugees. The unit develops pre-service teachers’ knowledge and skills to meet relevant professional and ethical requirements, communication and interpersonal skills. There will be a focus on intercultural understandings and promoting respectful relationships, in working with children and young people, and parents and colleagues, through a spirit of service and care within education settings and school communities.

The unit includes 15 days of professional experience with a minimum of 10 days of block teaching practice in one educational setting. Pre-service teachers’ will work in their teaching areas, with their mentor teachers, to plan and implement effective teaching and learning experiences which cater for and support learners with diverse needs. This teaching will be put into practice through mentored professional experience in secondary school classrooms.

This unit aims to provide pre-service teachers with the knowledge, skills and values needed to meet the diverse needs of children and young people with a focus on developing a commitment to social justice applied to inclusive education and a teacher’s duty of care.

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 - Demonstrate an understanding and apply principles of teaching for social justice, including legislation, frameworks and policy of the relevant jurisdiction pertaining to education settings, schools, classroom practice and community, recognising the diversity of the contemporary classroom, together with an understanding of the professional Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct (GA2, GA3; APST 1.5, 1.6, 4.4, 7.1, 7.2)

LO2 - Demonstrate effective strategies and the use of a range of technologies as appropriate (including adaptive technologies) related to the elements of good practice that lead to safe and supportive environments to cater for individual needs and strengths (eg the development of individual learning plans) including the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, students with diverse cultural backgrounds, ESL and EAL/D students and students with special needs (GA2, GA5; APST 1.3, 1.4, 1.6, 3.1, 3.5, 4.1, 4.3, 4.4, 4.5)

LO3 - Implement and evaluate a variety of classroom strategies and pedagogical approaches (including ICT) that diversify the curriculum across major/minor teaching disciplines, to cater for individual differences in student learning (e.g. cognitive, physical, social, cultural) including the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and students diverse cultural backgrounds (GA4, GA5; APST 1.3, 1.4, 2.1, 2.6, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 4.2, 4.3, 5.4)

LO4 - Demonstrate an understanding of student wellbeing and apply principles of teaching for resilience and developing positive respectful relationships (GA2, GA5; APST 4.1, 4.3, 4.4)

LO5 - Identify and demonstrate an awareness of practices to enhance protective factors minimising risk for all students, with particular reference to a broad range of anti-bullying strategies (GA1; APST 1.3, 3.5, 4.2, 4.3, 4.4, 5.4, 7.3)

LO6 - Critically examine and apply the relevant legislation, systems policies and ways in which teachers can utilise external agencies within a context of prevention for child protection and duty of care; and identifying networks, programs and services which support teachers in dealing with effective inclusion and wellbeing, equity and overall quality of education, including aspects considerations relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, students with diverse cultural backgrounds, ESL and EAL/D students and students with special needs (GA5; APST 1.4, 1.6, 3.7, 4.1, 4.4, 7.1, 7.2, 7.4)

LO7 - Complete a successful professional experience in major/minor curriculum areas in secondary classrooms supported by appropriate evidence developed across the professional experience component (details provided in Professional Experience Handbook (GA4, GA5, GA9, GA10; APST 1.2, 1.3, 2.1, 2.6, 3.1, 3.3, 3.4, 3.5, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 5.4, 6.1, 6.4)

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 

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 

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.

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.

2.6 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.

3.7 Describe a broad range of strategies for involving parents/carers in the educative process.

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.

4.3 Demonstrate knowledge of practical approaches to manage challenging behaviour.

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

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.

5.4 Demonstrate the capacity to interpret student assessment data to evaluate student learning and modify teaching practice.

6.1 Demonstrate an understanding of the role of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers in identifying professional learning needs.

6.4 Demonstrate an understanding of the rationale for continued professional learning and the implications for improved student learnings.

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.

7.3 Understand strategies for working effectively, sensitively and confidentially with parents/carers.

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


Topics will include:

  • Teaching for social justice

Safe and supportive learning contexts are underpinned by pro-social values of respect, compassion, acceptance of difference, cooperation and friendliness. This theme explores the whole centre/school and class practices that are an expression of these values and studies and critiques national and state policies such as the National Safe Schools Framework and the National Framework for Values in Education.

  • Child Protection: Duty of Care and Wellbeing

Pre-service teachers in this module will develop an understanding of a wide range of child protection issues. They will explore the context of prevention and the design and implementation of teaching and management practices to reduce risk and enhance protective factors. Legislation and policy in the area of child protection and duty of care is addressed within the context of prevention within the school context. The pre-service teachers are prepared as mandatory reporters of students at risk of harm.

  • Inclusive Education

This theme discusses and critiques the social justice concept of normalisation and current policies, principles and legislation on anti-discrimination for gifted students and students with disabilities or learning difficulties. It is underpinned by the fundamental principle of inclusive schools that all students should learn together, wherever possible, regardless of any differences or difficulties they might have. This module then explores whole school and class practices that respond to the diverse needs of students with a focus on the task of differentiating the secondary school curriculum to accommodate both different styles and rates of learning and to ensure high quality education through appropriate curricula, adaptations to tasks, teaching strategies, resources and the class and school environment, with a particular emphasis on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and students from diverse cultural and ESL and EAL/D backgrounds.

  • Teaching for positive respectful relationships.

This theme emphasises a proactive rather than reactive approach in establishing a safe classroom and whole school context. The role of the secondary classroom teacher and the school is explored in developing and implementing appropriate curriculum and management principles/strategies related to positive behaviour and respectful relationships within school communities, with a particular emphasis on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and students from diverse cultural backgrounds. Consideration will be given to strategies for responding to and managing bullying, including cyber-bullying.

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.

The unit will consist of the equivalent of 150 hours in total with a normal expectation of 36 hours of directed study and the total contact hours should not exceed 36 hours. Directed study might include lectures, tutorials, webinars, podcasts etc. The balance of the hours then become private study.

The unit may also be linked to the student’s professional experiences through the Community Engagement Program.

Assessment strategy and rationale

A range of assessment procedures will be used to meet the unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes consistent with University assessment requirements. Such procedures may include, but are not limited to, essays, reports, examinations, online activities, student presentations or case studies. This unit requires that two or three assessment tasks be completed one of which is the common assessment task.

Minimum Achievement Standards

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

The total of assessment tasks will amount to the equivalent of 4,000 words.

Pre-service teachers must achieve a pass in the professional experience component of the unit in order to satisfactorily complete this unit. If a fail grade is determined in professional experience, regardless of the marks achieved in the other assessment tasks, this will result in a fail for the entire unit. The student will also fail the unit if the grade for the combination of the other assessment tasks is a fail. Pre-service teachers who fail this unit will be asked to ‘show cause’ and will be terminated if the unit is failed twice.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1

Individualised planning and differentiation

The development of appropriate teaching strategies designed in a series of individual learning plans that are reflective of curriculum and policies that support additional needs. The task relates to adapting and developing lesson content, tasks, resources (including the use of ICTs) and classroom behaviour management strategies to enhance the learning opportunities for the individual needs of identified students. This task will incorporate pre-service teachers’ knowledge of required legislation and teaching strategies that assist centres/schools to become safe and supportive environments for all students, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and ESL and EAL/D students.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5, LO6

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5

Assessment Task 2

Focused Summary paper:  describe strategies that support students’ well-being and safety. Pre-service teachers will address the following questions:

  • How do you collaborate with others eg parents/ carers, school counsellor, specialist services, medical world to make sure you are providing the appropriate support strategies for students?
  • How do you adapt curriculum and teaching strategies for your students and legislative requirements - workplace safety, child protection, privacy, duty of care, anti-discrimination?
  • What particular legislation do we need to comply with which will influence our practices when supporting students who with special needs e.g. privacy, duty of care, anti-discrimination?


LO1, LO3, LO5

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5

Assessment Task 3

Pre-service teachers, using digital, written, individual and/or group formats, reflect on professional experience undertaken in a range of secondary school contexts, with a focus on students from diverse cultural backgrounds with English as an additional language.  They will link their learning from these experiences with knowledge of current multicultural and anti-racism policies, to the core work of teachers.


LO2, LO3, LO4, LO6

GA2, GA4, GA5

Successful completion of the professional experience requirements for second year of the course including compilation of evidence to support the assessment tasks outlined above.


Pre-service teachers must pass the professional experience in order to pass the unit


GA4, GA5, GA9, GA10

Representative texts and references

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2012). Child protection Australia 2010–11. Child welfare series no. 53. Cat. no. CWS 41. Canberra: AIHW.

Charles, C.M. (2014) Building classroom discipline (11th ed.). Pearson Education.

Foreman, P. (Ed.). (2017). Inclusion in action (5th ed.). Cengage Learning.

Gregory, G.H., & Chapman, C. (2013). Differentiated instructional strategies: One size doesn’t fit all (3rd ed.). Corwin.

Kohn, A. (2006). Beyond discipline. From compliance to community (2nd ed.). Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Loreman, T., Deppeler, J., & Harvey, D. (2011). Inclusive education: Supporting diversity in the classroom (2nd ed.). Allen and Unwin.

Mitchell, D. (2014). What really works in special and inclusive education using evidence-based teaching strategies (2nd ed.). Routledge.

Rogers, W. (2011). You know the fair rule (3rd ed.). Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER).

Roffey, S. (2011). Challenging behaviours in schools: Promoting positive relationships and wellbeing. Sage publications.

Smith, C.M.M. (Ed.). (2006). Including the gifted and talented: Making inclusion work for more gifted and able learners. Routledge.

Wearing, M. (2011). Strengthening youth citizenship and social inclusion practice — The Australian case: Towards rights based and inclusive practice in services for marginalized young people. Children and Youth Services Review, 33, (4).534-540.

Westwood, P. (2015). Commonsense methods for children with special educational needs (7th ed.). Routledge.

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