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EDTS613 Contextual Issues for Inclusive Learning

Unit rationale, description and aim

At a time of rapid ongoing change in society and education, the role of an educator or allied professional with specialist knowledge and skills is critical to helping all children, especially those with diverse and/or atypical needs, attain the knowledge and skills they need for successful, lifelong learning. In this unit, within the Inclusive Practice specialisation of the Graduate Certificate in Education and Master of Education, students will explore key theoretical perspectives and current research on inclusive approaches to learning in schools as well as the broader socio-cultural context of communities. Principles of social justice and equity, which underlie inclusive practices, will be examined in relation to international agreements, national legislation, local policies and procedures, as well as contemporary research and practice. The structure, content and assessment tasks are based on recognition of the multiple factors that contribute to contextual issues for the inclusion of children and adolescents with diverse needs.

The aim of this unit is to support students in developing the required advanced knowledge, understanding and skills they need in order to build inclusive environments that will support the learning of all children, especially those with diverse and/or atypical needs.

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 - Examine theoretical and applied understanding of individual, developmental, social, cultural and environmental factors which contribute to issues for inclusive learning for students with diverse needs (GA1, GA4, GA5, GA9; APST 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.6, 4.1)

LO2 - Analyse elements of and differences between key international, national and local policy frameworks and legalisation. which inform educational practice and pedagogical approaches to inclusive learning (GA1, GA5, GA8, GA9, GA10; APST 1.3; 7.1, 7.2, 7.3, 7.4)

LO3 - Synthesise concepts and policies of anti-discrimination, disabilities, values education and safe schools’ policies and legalisation link with broader social justice movement and principles of equity, access, participation and rights within local school contexts and traditions (GA3, GA5, GA9, GA10; APST 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.6, 7.1, 7.2, 7.3, 7.4)

LO4 - Critically review literature in relation to a key issue impacting on inclusion in a school community (GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9, GA10; APST 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.6, 4.1).

Graduate attributes

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

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 

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, students should have gained evidence towards the following standards:

1.1  Physical, social and intellectual development and characteristics of students

Select from a flexible and effective repertoire of teaching strategies to suit the physical, social and intellectual development and characteristics of students

1.2  Understand how students learn

Expand understanding of how students learn using research and workplace knowledge.

1.3  Students with diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds

Support colleagues to develop effective teaching strategies that address the learning strengths and needs of students from diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds.

1.4  Strategies for teaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island students

Provide advice and support colleagues in the implementation of effective teaching strategies for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students using knowledge of and support from community representatives.

1.5  Differentiate teaching to meet the specific learning needs of students across the full range of abilities

Evaluate learning and teaching programs, using student assessment data, that are differentiated for the specific learning needs of students across the full range of abilities.

1.6  Strategies to support full participation of students with disability

Work with colleagues to access specialist knowledge, and relevant policy and legislation, to develop teaching programs that support the participation and learning of students with disability.

4.1  Support student participation

Model effective practice and support colleagues to implement inclusive strategies that engage and support all students.

7.1  Meet professional ethics and responsibilities

Maintain high ethical standards and support colleagues to interpret codes of ethics and exercise sound judgement in all school and community contexts

7.2  Comply with legislative, administrative and organisational requirements

Support colleagues to review and interpret legislative, administrative, and organisational requirements, policies and processes

7.3  Engage with the parents/carers

Demonstrate responsiveness in all communications with parents/carers about their children’s learning and well-being

7.4  Engage with professional teaching networks and broader communities

Contribute to professional networks and associations and build productive links with the wider community to improve teaching and learning


Topics will include: 

  • theoretical perspectives for understanding diversity, social justice and empowerment, advocacy, influence of diversity on learning and social dynamics  
  • critique of international, national and local frameworks/models for teaching diverse student populations  
  • principles of social justice, equity, access, participation, achievement and rights underlying inclusion 
  • current policies and priorities relevant to the promotion of inclusion in local schools and education systems and communities 
  • attitudes and assumptions that underpin inclusive approaches 
  • contexts for inclusion, including family, school and community partnerships  
  • supporting all students including those from diverse cultural, linguistic, and experiential backgrounds and learners from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds 
  • supporting all students including those with social-emotional/behavioural and academic learning needs 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit is offered in multi-mode and will be supported by a unit LEO (learning environment online) site. Engagement for learning is the key driver in the delivery of this curriculum. The unit will facilitate active participation in pedagogical approaches that demonstrate alignment of teaching, learning and assessment and may incorporate a combination of strategies including individual and group work, activity-based workshops, formal presentations and online activities and engagement.  

This is a 10-credit point unit and has been designed to ensure that the time needed to complete the required volume of learning to the requisite standard is approximately 150 hours in total across the semester. To achieve a passing standard in this unit, students will find it helpful to engage in the full range of learning activities and assessments utilised in this unit, as described in the learning and teaching strategy and the assessment strategy. The learning and teaching and assessment strategies include a range of approaches to support your learning such as reading, reflection, discussion, webinars, podcasts, video, workshops, and assignments etc.

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment tasks are used to meet the unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes and professional standards and criteria consistent with University assessment requirements.  

The assessment will relate directly to the achievement of the outcomes above. Some flexibility may be exercised in the assessment tasks to align with the needs of the students; for example, some students may be working in schools or other educational contexts, in an administrative role or currently on leave from teaching in a school.  In order to pass this unit, students are required to submit or participate in all assessment tasks.

Assessment Tasks  

There are two assessment tasks, each worth 50% of the final grade for the unit. The first task focuses on policy analysis and the second task is a review of relevant literature. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1 

Policy Analysis 

This task requires participants to analyse the common elements of and differences between key international, national and local policy frameworks guiding inclusive education in schools.  


LO1, LO2

GA1, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9, GA10

Assessment Task 2 

Literature Review 

Participants identify a priority issue impacting on inclusive learning in their professional context and critically review relevant literature and current policy priorities. 


LO3, LO4

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9, GA10

Representative texts and references

Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY). (2013). Inclusive education for students with disability: A review of the best evidence in relation to theory and practice. Canberra, Australia: Author. Retrieved from /Inclusive_education_for_students_with_disability_-A_review_of_the_best_evidence_in_relation_to_ theory_and_practice.pdf 

Burns, M. K., & Gibbons, K. (2012). Implementing response-to-intervention in elementary and secondary schools: Procedures to assure scientific-based practices. New York: Routledge. (e-book). 

Chambers, D. (Ed.). (2015). Working with teaching assistants and other support staff for inclusive educationVol. 4, International perspectives on inclusive education. Bingley, UK: Emerald Insight. (e-book) 

Deppeler, J., Loreman, T., Smith, R., & Florian, L. Eds.). (2015). Inclusive pedagogy across the curriculum. Vol. 7, International perspectives on inclusive education. Bingley, UK: Emerald Insight. (e-book) 

Foreman, P., & Arthur-Kelly, M. (Eds.). (2015). Inclusion in action (5th ed.). South Melbourne, Vic: Cengage Learning Australia.  

Forlin, C., & Loreman, T. (Eds.). (2014). Measuring inclusive educationVol. 3, International perspectives on inclusive education. Bingley, UK: Emerald Insight. (e-book)  

Hardy, I., & Woodcock, S. (2015). Inclusive education policies: Discourses of difference, diversity and deficit. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 19(2), 141-164. doi: 10.1080/13603116.2014.908965 

Plows, V., & Whitburn, B. (Eds.). (2017). Inclusive education: Making sense of everyday practice. Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Springer. (e-book) 

Scorgie, K., & Sobsey, D. (Eds.). (2017). Working with families for inclusive education: Navigating identity, opportunity and belonging. Vol. 10, International perspectives on inclusive education. Bingley, UK: Emerald Insight. (e-book) 

West, E.A. (Ed.). (2015). Including learners with low-incidence disabilities. Vol. 5, International perspectives on inclusive education. Bingley, UK: Emerald Insight. (e-book)

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