Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit


EDIP606 Understanding Learners and Learning


EDAP613 Exceptional Children and Atypical Development

Unit rationale, description and aim

In order to implement of inclusive practice subject, educators need to understand the learning profiles of various categories of exceptional learning and to use these to implement differentiated pedagogy that takes account of how these students learn.

Educators use the framework developed in EDIP606 to unpack, describe and analyse various types of learning profiles that are exceptional or atypical. These include students whose exceptionality is essentially cognitive (dyslexia, developmental motor disorder and dyscalculia, giftedness, intellectual disability including Fragile X syndrome and Down Syndrome), emotional and social (autism spectrum disorder, AD/HD, anxiety disorder) and behavioural (OCD). Educators will examine the nature of atypical development (accelerated, delayed, and exceptional) and explanations and theories for each. The content is informed by contemporary psychological, sociological and ecological and educational research. It examines implications for effective decision making about identification, measurement and inclusion for these students.

The aims of this unit are to provide educators with a knowledge of the knowing and learning profiles of exceptional learners, to understand the causes of exceptional learning from a learning-knowing perspective and to identify the implications for effective decision making about identification, measurement and inclusion for these students.

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 of typical and atypical development and how they relate to theories of growth, maturation, learning and cognitive development (GA1, GA8; APST (Lead) 1.1, 1.2)

LO2 - identify characteristics of specific atypical groups, understand the assessment involved in making a diagnosis and referral processes and be able to develop support plans for individual students and teachers. (GA1, GA3, GA5, GA8; APST (Lead) 3.7, (HA) 5.4, 6.1, 7.1, 7.2, 7.4) 

LO3 - design inclusive practices, adjustment and support strategies for students with specific needs in the context of “Universal Design for Learning” and “Response to Intervention” (GA1, GA5; APST (Lead) 4.1, (HA) 4.3, 7.1, 7.2)

LO4 - communicate with parents and involve them in the decision making and information gathering in relation to inclusive practices, adjustments and support strategies including leading program support group meetings (GA1, GA3, GA5; APST (Lead) 3.7, 4.1, (HA) 5.5, 7.1, 7.3). 

Graduate attributes

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

GA3 - Apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA5 - Demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA8 - Locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 


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 (Lead)

Lead colleagues to select and develop teaching strategies to improve student learning using knowledge of the physical, social and intellectual development and characteristics of students.

1.2 Understand how students learn (Lead)

Lead processes to evaluate the effectiveness of teaching programs using research and workplace knowledge about how students learn.

3.7 Engage parents/carers in the educative process (Lead)

Initiate contextually relevant processes to establish programs that involve parents/ carers in the education of their children and broader school priorities and activities.

4.1 Support student participation (Lead)

Demonstrate and lead by example the development of productive and inclusive learning environments across the school by reviewing inclusive strategies and exploring new approaches to engage and support all students.

4.3 Managing challenging behaviour (Highly Accomplished)

Develop and share with colleagues a flexible repertoire of behaviour management strategies using expert knowledge and workplace experience.

5.4 Interpret student data (Highly Accomplished)

Work with colleagues to use data from internal and external student assessments for evaluating learning and teaching, identifying interventions and modifying teaching practice.

5.5 Report on student achievements (Highly Accomplished)

Work with colleagues to construct accurate, informative and timely reports to students and parents/carers about student learning and achievement.

6.1 Identify and plan professional learning needs (Highly Accomplished)

Analyse the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers to plan personal professional development goals, support colleagues to identify and achieve personal development goals and pre-service teachers to improve classroom practice.

7.1 Meet professional ethics and responsibilities (Highly Accomplished)

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 (Highly Accomplished)

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

7.3 Engage with the parents/carers (Highly Accomplished)

Demonstrate responsiveness in all communications with parents/carers about their children’s learning and wellbeing.

7.4 Engage with professional teaching networks and broader communities (Highly Accomplished) 

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


Topics will include: 

1. Atypical development using the synthesized framework for describing regular development in EDIP606 as a conceptual tool to explain atypical knowing: 

  • broadening the framework to take into account sensory and motor processing difficulties 
  • implications for identification, measurement 
  • a systematic approach to understand and identify categories or types of atypical knowing: DSM  
  • brain processing as a tool for understanding atypical knowing  
  • describing atypical or exceptional knowing.  

2.Understanding atypical development:   

  • causes of atypical development: growth and maturation, learning, and cognitive development that lead to individual differences 
  • types of atypical development; accelerated, delayed, and exceptional development across childhood and adolescence  
  • factors that lead to atypical development; causes and mechanisms – genetic, biochemical and physiological, interactions with environment.   

3.Academic exceptionalities 

  • developmental dyslexia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia 
  • Intellectual disabilities, fragile X, more severe 
  • gifted and talented students 

4.Emotional and behavioural disorders 

  • Autism spectrum disorders 
  • Anxiety disorders 
  • AD/HD 

5.Identification and measurement of specific diagnoses. Inclusive practices for specific needs within contemporary pedagogic contexts Implications for intervention 

  • Implications for teaching literacy and numeracy to various types of exceptional learners. 
  • Inclusion through teaching. Mapping differentiated teaching into intervention. 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

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 incorporate: 

  • Use of a core set of digital resources (including modules; readings; suggested websites and other electronic resources) to support learning and assessment; 
  • Use of online tools to build a community of learners (e.g. forum; chat; podcasts; WIKI); 
  • Engagement in reflective practice supported by the study of scholarly literature; 
  • Critical analysis and applied learning to educational case studies for the purposes of assessment. 
  • Classes may be face to face intensives and/or online 

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.  

Assessment strategy and rationale

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 student cohort, for example, students may be working in a classroom, in an administrative role or currently on leave from teaching. 

To successfully complete this unit, postgraduate students need to complete and submit two graded assessment tasks. The assessment strategy used allows students to demonstrate their knowledge in a creative and practical manner. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1 

A critical examination of the application of the framework to describing the learning characteristics of one category of exceptionality covered in lectures.



GA1, GA8

Assessment Task 2 

Application of the content covered in lectures to develop an educational approach to optimizing inclusion for one category of exceptionality.


LO2, LO3, LO4

GA1, GA3, GA5, GA8

Representative texts and references

Ashman, A. (2019). Education for inclusion and diversity (6th ed.). Melbourne, Vic: Pearson.

Duchesne, S., Bochner, S., & McMaugh, A. (2019). Educational psychology for learning and teaching (6th ed.). South Melbourne, Vic: Cengage Learning Australia. 

Hulme, C., & Snowling, M.J. (2014). Developmental disorders of language learning and cognition (2nd ed.). Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons.

Hyde, M., Carpenter, L., Dole, S., & Carpenter, L. (Eds.). (2017). Diversity, inclusion and engagement (3rd ed.).South Melbourne, Vic: Oxford University Press. 

Kirk, S., Gallagher, J., & Coleman, M. (2015). Educating exceptional children (14th ed.). Australia: Cengage learning. 

Rix, J., Nind, M., Sheehy, K., Simmons, K., & Walsh, C. (Eds.). (2010). Equality, participation and inclusion (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge

Have a question?

We're available 9am–5pm AEDT,
Monday to Friday

If you’ve got a question, our AskACU team has you covered. You can search FAQs, text us, email, live chat, call – whatever works for you.

Live chat with us now

Chat to our team for real-time
answers to your questions.

Launch live chat

Visit our FAQs page

Find answers to some commonly
asked questions.

See our FAQs