Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Unit rationale, description and aim

Contemporary educational leaders are expected to be “evidence-based” and “evidence-informed” in their own practice, as well as lead their communities to make sense of what the “evidence” means for learning. The ability of educational leaders to read, interpret, and apply relevant data is therefore of critical importance.

This unit develops skills in using and interpreting qualitative, quantitative, and mixed data types, understanding research design and methodologies, and interrogating research critically. Underlying epistemological and ontological assumptions of “evidence-based” and “evidence-informed” policy and discourse are evaluated and critiqued, especially through indigenous and other social critical perspectives. Principles of equity and justice are explored through the lens of Catholic social teaching.

The aim of this unit is to develop knowledge and skills to assist students in understanding, using, and critiquing a range of relevant system and school data. Students will develop skills in identifying and interpreting data that supports sustainable improvement and innovation, as well as consider the benefits and limitations in the purposeful use of evidenc

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 knowledge and understanding of key research principles and methodological approaches applicable to educational research and their underpinning epistemological and ontological assumptions; (GA3, GA5; APST 6.1, 6.2, 6.3, 6.4; APSP 2, 3, 4)

LO2 - Analyse and interpret educational data to inform judgements about teaching and learning practices, environments, and results for educational theory and practice (GA3, GA5, GA8, GA9; APST 3.6, 5.4, 6.2, 6.3, 6.4, 7.1; APSP 1, 3, 4).

LO3 - Evaluate the benefits, limitations, and ethical considerations in using a range of data sources (both school and system based) (GA3, GA4, GA5, GA9; APST 5.4, 6.2, 6.3; APSP 1, 3, 5)

LO4 - Communicate complex ideas and concept when discussing major findings and the implications of these results for educational theory and practice (GA5, GA8, GA9; APST 6.2, 6.4, 7.1; APSP 3, 4, 5).

Graduate attributes

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 


On successful completion of this unit, students should have gained evidence towards the following standards:

3.6 Evaluate and improve teaching programs

Conduct regular reviews of teaching and learning programs using multiple sources of evidence including: student assessment data, curriculum documents, teaching practices and feedback from parents/ carers, students and colleagues.

5.4 Interpret student data

Coordinate student performance and program evaluation using internal and external student assessment data to improve teaching practice.

6.1 Identify and plan professional learning needs

Use comprehensive knowledge of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers to plan and lead the development of professional learning policies and programs that address the professional learning needs of colleagues and pre-service teachers.

6.2 Engage in professional learning and improve practice

Initiate collaborative relationships to expand professional learning opportunities, engage in research, and provide quality opportunities and placements for pre-service teachers.

6.3 Engage with colleagues and improve practice

Implement professional dialogue within the school or professional learning network(s) that is informed by feedback, analysis of current research and practice to improve the educational outcomes of students.

6.4 Apply professional learning and improve student learning

Advocate, participate in and lead strategies to support high-quality professional learning opportunities for colleagues that focus on improved student learning.

7.1 Meet professional ethics and responsibilities

Model exemplary ethical behaviour and exercise informed judgements in all professional dealings with students, colleagues and the community.


In addition to the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers this unit addresses the following Professional Practices:

APSP 1-Leading teaching and learning

Principals create a positive culture of challenge and support, enabling effective teaching that promotes enthusiastic, independent learners, committed to lifelong learning. Principals have a key responsibility for developing a culture of effective teaching, for leading, designing and managing the quality of teaching and learning and for students’ achievement in all aspects of their development. They set high expectations for the whole school through careful collaborative planning, monitoring and reviewing the effectiveness of learning. Principals set high standards of behaviour and attendance, encouraging active engagement and a strong student voice.

APSP 2- Developing self and others

Principals work with and through others to build a professional learning community that is focused on continuous improvement of teaching and learning. Through managing performance, effective continuing professional learning and feedback, they support all staff to achieve high standards and develop their leadership capacity. Principals support others to build capacity and treat people fairly and with respect. They model effective leadership and are committed to their own ongoing professional development and personal health and wellbeing in order to manage the complexity of the role and the range of learning capabilities and actions required of the role.

APSP 3-Leading improvement, innovation and change

Principals work with others to produce and implement clear, evidence-based improvement plans and policies for the development of the school and its facilities. They recognise that a crucial part of the role is to lead and manage innovation and change to ensure the vision and strategic plan is put into action across the school and that its goals and intentions are realised.

APSP 4-Leading the management of the school

Principals use a range of data management methods and technologies to ensure that the school’s resources and staff are efficiently organised and managed to provide an effective and safe learning environment as well as value for money. This includes appropriate delegation of tasks to members of the staff and the monitoring of accountabilities. Principals ensure these accountabilities are met. They seek to build a successful school through effective collaboration with school boards, governing bodies, parents and others. They use a range of technologies effectively and efficiently to manage the school.

APSP 5-Engaging and working with the community

Principals embrace inclusion and help build a culture of high expectations that takes account of the richness and diversity of the wider school community and the education systems and sectors. They develop and maintain positive partnerships with students, families and carers and all those associated with the wider school community. They create an ethos of respect taking account of the spiritual, moral, social and physical health and wellbeing of students. They promote sound lifelong learning from preschool through to adult life. They recognise the multicultural nature of Australia’s people. They foster understanding and reconciliation with Indigenous cultures. They recognise and use the rich and diverse linguistic and cultural resources in the school community. They recognise and support the needs of students, families and carers from communities facing complex challenges.


Topics will include:

  • Data literacies, epistemologies, and ontologies
  • Approaches to the collection and interpretation of data
  • Identifying meaningful research questions
  • Choosing appropriate methods:
  • Quantitative, qualitative, mixed-methods, experimental design
  • Theory development: inductive, deductive, abductive
  • Limits of evidence claims: Ethics, reliability, validity, bias
  • Interpreting and presenting data for improvement and innovation
  • Data sets and student information databases (NAPLAN, PISA, TIMMS, PERLS, school information systems and other relevant sets of data) 
  • From data, to knowledge, to wisdom: strengths, limitations, and questions about “evidence-informed”, “evidence-based”, and “best practice” educational discourse

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit is offered in offered in multimode and uses an active learning approach to support students in the development of knowledge, skills, and critical insights. Students are introduced to core concepts through a combination of lectures, online tutorials, and scholarly literature. They examine various examples of data through both research literature and case studies; where possible and ethically appropriate, they are encouraged to draw on their own professional data and systems. Teaching strategies move increasingly towards students defining their own research analysis based on professional priorities. Effective skills at presenting implications of data are developed which culminate in presentation of research findings.  

Students will participate actively in discussion forums as initiators and responders, mediated through the Learning Management System site to facilitate their learning.

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 teaching period, comprising directed tasks and self-study.

Assessment strategy and rationale

This unit applies theory and skill development to students’ practical professional challenges. Assessment 1 requires students to apply their developing knowledge and skills to an issue within their professional context. They demonstrate skills in literature searching and synthesis of findings to clarify the nature of the problem. Assessment 2 extends their knowledge of different methodologies, as well as engages them in ethical consideration about uses of research and data. Assessment 3 draws on knowledge and skills gained throughout the unit to respond to the problem identified in Assessment 1. Completion of these assessments is prerequisite for capstone projects in EDCP601.

The assessment tasks and their weighting for this unit are mapped to demonstrate achievement of the learning outcomes and the related academic and professional standards. In order to pass this unit, students are required to successfully complete all assessment tasks regardless of their mode of enrolment.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1

Identify an area of interest in your professional context or practice. Develop an extended critical analysis and synthesis of published research that addresses the identified issue of concern.


LO1, LO2

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8

Assessment Task 2

Analytic essay comparing selected school and/or system data forms and their ethical uses.


LO1, LO2, LO3. LO4

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8

Assessment Task 3

Drawing on findings from Assessment 1, prepare and deliver a community presentation (e.g., staff, school, system) that details:

  • The nature of the problem
  • Its justification
  • Selection of relevant data
  • Analysis and interpretation
  • Suggested response/solution strategies 


LO2, LO3, LO4

GA3, GA5, GA8, GA9

Representative texts and references

Abdo, M., Goh, E., Hateley-Browne, J., Wong, J., Bajaj, A., & Mildon, R. (2021). What works for “what works” centres: Learnings from system-level efforts to cultivate evidence informed practice. Centre for Evidence and Implementation.

Booth, A., Papaioannou, D., & Sutton, A. (2016). Systematic approaches to a successful literature review (2nd ed.)Sage.

Creswell, J., & Guetterman, T. (2019). Educational research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research (6th ed.). Pearson.

Fink, A. (2013). Conducting research literature reviews: From the internet to paper (4th ed.). SAGE.

Hobson, C., & McCartan, K. (2015). Real world research (5th ed.). Wiley.

Mills, G. E. (2014). Action research: A guide for the teacher research. (5th ed.). Pearson.

Mockler N., & Stacey, M. (2021) Evidence of teaching practice in an age of accountability: when what can be counted isn’t all that counts, Oxford Review of Education, 47(2), 170-188,

Park, V. (2018). Leading Data Conversation Moves: Toward Data-Informed Leadership for Equity and Learning. Educational Administration Quarterly54(4), 617–647.

Rankin, J. G. (2016). How to make data work. Routledge.

Rockoff, J. (2004). The impact of individual teachers on student achievement: Evidence from panel data. The American Economic Review, 94(2), 247-252.

Wilson, E. (2017). School-based research: A guide for education students (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

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