Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Unit rationale, description and aim

Cultural responsiveness is a common and arguably non-negotiable feature in classrooms and schools that promote equity for all students and seek to challenge deficit approaches towards students that may perpetuate gaps in educational opportunities and attainment for students who experience educational disadvantage.  In the context of this course, which focuses on teaching and leadership for equity and excellence, this unit provides the opportunity for participants to develop in-depth knowledge and practical expertise in pedagogical theories and approaches that empower students intellectually, socially, emotionally, and politically by using students’ cultural positions to develop knowledge, skills and attitudes. This unit is purposefully positioned towards the end of the degree, after pre-service teachers have been in schools for some time and have an appreciation of the diversity inherent within many Australian classrooms.

The unit provides a roadmap where culturally responsive pedagogy is shown to centre ‘on’, ‘around’ and ‘through’ your students. The unit emphasises the importance of being responsive and adaptive to the multiple cultural positions your students possess and the value of maintaining high academic expectations while at the same time scaffolding learning by reshaping curriculum so that it pivots off pre-service teachers’ personal ‘funds of knowledge’.

The unit builds upon conceptual and practical understandings of culturally responsive pedagogy, building pre-service teachers' knowledge and skills of the cultural complexities in contemporary classrooms and most effective approaches to respond to these, and extends these to critical analysis of culturally responsive leadership in schools, enabling them to examine these principles and practices at a systemic level and consider implications for personal development as a teacher and aspirant leader.

The unit aims to provide pre-service teachers with the tools to explicitly unpack the connection between disparate notions of culture and differentiated forms of teaching and learning.

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 - Investigate the key features of culturally responsive pedagogy and its use within diverse and complex classroom settings (GA1, GA4, GA7; APST 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 2.4, 3.7, 4.1)

LO2 - Critically reflect upon curriculum and teaching, drawing upon theories and concepts grounded in culturally responsive pedagogy, as well as through exploration of positionality and potential sources of personal bias (GA1, GA4, GA8; APST 1.3, 1.4, 1.5)

LO3 - Critically evaluate culturally responsive leadership and its promotion of equity for all stakeholders through the lenses of school policy and practice (GA1, GA3, GA4, GA9; APST 1.3)

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 

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

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, pre-service teachers should be able to:

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.

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

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.


Topics will include:

  • The theoretical foundations of culturally responsive pedagogy, including cultural competence and critical consciousness, and connected practical strategies
  • Core competencies and strategies that enable pre-service teachers to utilise the multiple cultural positions students bring to the classroom
  • Understandings of differentiation that privilege notions of culture as well as personal intellectual capacity and individual achievements of students
  • Approaches to facilitate cultural awareness and sensitivities while working with students, parents and the wider community in diverse contexts
  • The relationship between culturally responsive pedagogy and culturally responsive leadership and implications for leadership in low SES and culturally and linguistically diverse schools
  • Related but distinct elements of culturally relevant pedagogy including culturally sustaining pedagogy, equity pedagogy, and community-engaged teacher preparation.
  • School-based approaches designed to advance equity for all students

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

The teaching and learning strategy in this unit is designed to be flexible and promote self-regulated and guided learning, underpinned by adult learning principles. This 10-credit point unit 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 of directed tasks and self-study. An emphasis is placed on pre-service teachers as adult learners with responsibility for their own learning and who are capable of problem solving. The learning in this unit is enquiry-based, learner-focused and student centred.

The unit is hosted on a Learning Management System (LMS) site with resources and online links, announcements, and a discussion board to post questions and reflections that promote connection between content and educational experiences.

Mode of delivery: This unit may be offered in different modes to cater to the learning needs and preferences of a range of participants.

On Campus

Most learning activities or classes are delivered at a scheduled time, on campus, to enable in-person interactions. Activities will appear in a student’s timetable.


Learning activities are delivered through a planned mix of online and in-person classes, which may include full-day sessions and/or placements, to enable interaction. Activities that require attendance will appear in a student’s timetable.

Online unscheduled

Learning activities are accessible anytime, anywhere. These units are normally delivered fully online and will not appear in a student’s timetable. 

 Online scheduled

All learning activities are held online, at scheduled times, and will require some attendance to enable online interaction. Activities will appear in a student’s timetable.

ACU Online 

In ACU Online mode, this unit is delivered asynchronously, fully online using an active, guided learning approach. Pre-service teachers are encouraged to contribute to asynchronous weekly discussions and receive regular and timely feedback on their learning. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

Each assessment item will require pre-service teachers to apply notions of culturally responsive pedagogy to the issue under examination and the implications these have for teaching practice as a graduate teacher. The assessment strategy used allows the pre-service student to demonstrate knowledge related to literature and data analysis in a theoretical and practical manner. Each assessment task and associated weighting will allow pre-service teachers to progressively demonstrate success in terms of achieving the stated learning outcomes. The assessment tasks are designed in sequence so as to allow for feedback and progressive development across the unit. A range of assessment procedures is used to meet the unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes and professional standards and criteria consistent with University assessment requirements.

In order to pass this unit, pre-service teachers are required to demonstrate achievement of learning outcomes by submitting all assessment tasks and obtain a combined final mark of at least 50 per cent.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1: Reflective analysis

Reflective analysis of a lesson taught in the previous term. Contemplate:

  • The ways in which culturally responsive pedagogy provides you with a window into the cultural complexities of that particular class/school
  • What would you now modify in your teaching and learning based on your current understanding of culturally appropriate pedagogy?


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA1, GA3, GA4, GA7, GA8, GA9

Assessment Task 2 : Critical evaluation

Critical evaluation of culturally responsive teaching and leadership. 

 Critically examine and reflect upon your school’s policies, curriculum documentation, professional learning, pedagogical approaches, school priorities and leadership activities, and consider how these support equities. Identify opportunities for leadership within and beyond the school level (government, policy, etc.) that could enhance and improve equity and better reflect culturally relevant teaching and leadership.


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA1, GA3, GA4, GA7, GA8, GA9

Representative texts and references

Bergeron, B. S. (2008). Enacting a culturally responsive curriculum in a novice teacher’s classroom. Urban Education, 43(1), 4-28.

Davis, D. M. (2002). Toward democratic education: The importance of culturally responsive leadership in 21st century schools. Trotter Review14(1), 3.

Gay, G. (2010). Culturally responsive teaching (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Khalifa, M. A., Gooden, M. A., & Davis, J. E. (2016). Culturally responsive school leadership: A synthesis of the literature. Review of Educational Research86(4), 1272-1311.

Ladson-Billings, G. (1995). Toward a theory of culturally relevant pedagogy. American Educational Research Journal, 47, 465-491.

Santamaría, L. J., & Santamaría, A. P. (2015). Counteracting educational injustice with applied critical leadership: Culturally responsive practices promoting sustainable change. International Journal of Multicultural Education17(1), 22-42.

Savage, C., Hindle, R., Meyer, L., Hynds, A., Penetito, W., & Sleeter, C. (2011). Culturally responsive pedagogies in the classroom: Indigenous student experiences across the curriculum, Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 39:3, 183-198.

Sleeter, C. (Ed.). (2011). Professional development for culturally responsive and relationship-based pedagogy. New York, NY: Peter Lang.

Sleeter, C., Montecinos C., Jiménez F. (2016) Preparing Teachers for Social Justice in the Context of Education Policies that Deepen Class Segregation in Schools: The Case of Chile. In: Lampert J., Burnett B. (eds) Teacher Education for High Poverty Schools. Education, Equity, Economy, vol 2. Cham: Springer.

Zygmunt, E., Cipollone, K., Clark, P., & Tancock, S. (2018). Community-engaged teacher preparation. In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education.

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