Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Unit rationale, description and aim

The world of religious education is highly complex and functions are undertaken within a rapidly changing global, societal and educational environment. To be a skilled religious education professional, within a Catholic context student will need to think critically and reflectively about the discipline specific theory acquired about faith, moral development and values education. This unit examines various theories related to faith and moral development and considers the nature of values and how they are developed. It also explores the spiritual dimension in education and ways in which this can be addressed. The unit aims to help students understand various critiques of moral and faith development theories. Theories of spiritual intelligence are considered. Students will gain the confidence, knowledge and skills necessary to effectively prepare them for the future in their chosen discipline or profession, applying and contextualising their knowledge in a range of scenarios, and working collaboratively towards appreciating the implications of these theories for religious education.

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 - Develop perspectives on different understandings of the nature of faith and of theories of faith development and propose implications for religious education that are open-minded and receptive to new ideas (GA5; APST Lead 2.2)

LO2 - Identify, analyse, and develop a deep knowledge and understanding of the various meanings of faith in the Christian tradition (GA5; APST Lead 2.2)

LO3 - Understand, critically analyse, and evaluate selected theories of moral and personal development and propose implications for religious education that reflect a high regard for equity and human rights in the context of a broad understanding of globalisation (GA3; APST HA 1.1)

LO4 - Identify and critique various approaches to moral and values education and their relationship with religious education in order to generate responsive teaching and learning practice that reflects a commitment to good citizenship, including respect for individuals, empathy with persons of differing cultural, and religious backgrounds, community responsibility and concern for the environment (GA3; APST HA 3.4, 3.6, 6.2)

LO5 - Critically evaluate teaching approaches and student materials used in moral/values education in the light of Catholic social teaching on social justice (GA3, GA10; APST HA 3.4, 3.6, 6.2)

Graduate attributes

GA3 - Apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

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

GA10 - Utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively

Australian Professional Standards for Teachers - Highly Accomplished

On successful completion of this unit. students should have gained experience towards the following standards:

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

3.4 Assist colleagues to create, select and use a wide range of resources, including ICT, to engage students in their learning.

3.6 Work with colleagues to review current teaching and learning programs using student feedback, student assessment data, knowledge of curriculum and workplace practices.

6.2 Plan for professional learning by accessing and critiquing relevant research, engage in high-quality targeted opportunities to improve practice and offer quality placements for pre-service teachers where applicable.

Australian Professional Standards for Teachers - Lead

On successful completion of this unit. students should have gained experience towards the following standards:

2.2 Lead initiatives that utilise comprehensive content knowledge to improve the selection and sequencing of content into coherently organised learning and teaching programs.


Topics will include:

  • various perspectives on the development of religious faith and the quest for meaning in life, together with consideration of implications for religious education in school;
  • different theories of the nature of faith and of how faith develops;
  • Fowler’s theory of faith development and selected critiques of the theory;
  • Kohlberg’s theory of the development of moral reasoning and selected critiques of this theory;
  • theories of personal development such as those of Piaget, Erikson, Kegan, Parks, Gilligan, Levinson and Oser;
  • relationships between personal, spiritual, intellectual, moral and social development;
  • theories of spiritual intelligence and the implications for curriculum development and learning and teaching in religious education;
  • views of the nature of values and of how these develop under the influence of various factors including education in general and religious education in particular. Cultural influences on moral development;
  • evaluation of different approaches to values/moral education including examination of student materials;
  • appraisal of new movements in school education to promote the personal, moral and social development of young people.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

The unit is informed by contemporary educational theory and pedagogy. Students are also encouraged to engage in principles of andragogy to enhance their own learning. Mindful of the range in knowledge and skills of the cohort, the unit is structured to include knowledge items that are applicable to those who need background knowledge regarding faith, moral development and values education the role of the Catholic school. The unit builds on this knowledge to consider appropriate attributes and actions of religious educators in (predominantly Catholic) schools.

This Unit is designed with a constructive developmental sequence, and utilises active learning techniques (i.e. requiring your participation), together with required readings and small group interactions.

The learning tasks are designed to introduce students to the understanding and application of the relevant different theories presented and develop the skills and confidence to both critique and apply these theories noting the implications for school settings. These tasks support your learning. They are designed as a linked series, whereby each successive task builds on the previous one(s).

EDRE 626 is taught in numerous modes (i.e. face to face, intensive, online, mixed) and involves 150 hours of focused learning. This consists of lectures and tutorials in the face-to-face mode, and recorded lectures (for asynchronous use), videoconferencing and webinars in the online mode. The remaining hours are reserved for private research and cooperative learning through forums and reflective journals, leading to the completion of the required assessment tasks.

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment strategy allows students to demonstrate their knowledge of various psychological models of human behaviour and how they apply to the development of young people’s ethical and moral development. This knowledge, in connection with the Catholic Church’s teachings, is then applied to developmental understandings so that students can discuss and evaluate different teaching models for morality and ethics.

The assessment will relate directly to the achievement of the learning outcomes. A variety of assessment procedures will be used to ascertain the extent to which the students achieve the outcomes. These will include seminar presentations, research papers, audiovisual presentations, electronic multi-media presentations, discussion papers and a range of other options. The total assessment tasks will be the equivalent of 5,000 words.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Write an essay discussing key issues in the Christian understanding of religious faith and also appraise how the various theories of psychological development of human beings can contribute to an understanding of the understanding of how moral behaviour develops.


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA3, GA5

Define values education for schools and discuss how a spiritual and moral dimension to the school curriculum might be conceptualised. In addition write a brief account of the strengths and weaknesses of one pedagogy for values education (E.g. values clarification, morality plays, moral biography, or simulation games).


LO4, LO5

GA3, GA5, GA10

Representative texts and references

Astley, J., Francis, L.J. & Robbins, M. (Eds.) (2007). Peace or violence: The ends of religion and education?  Cardiff: University of Wales Press.

Athanassoulis, N. (2013). Virtue ethics. Bloomsbury.

De Souza, M., Durka, G., Engebretson, K., Jackson, R., & McGrady, A. (2006). International handbook of the religious, moral and spiritual dimensions in education. Springer.

Eaude, T. (2006). Children’s spiritual, moral, social and cultural development: primary and early years. Exeter: Learning Matters.

Erikson, E. (1980). Identity and the life cycle. New York: Norton.

Fowler, J. (2000). Becoming adult, becoming Christian: Adult development and Christian faith. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Fowler, J., Nipkow, K., & Schweitzer, F. (1991). Stages of faith and religious development. New York: Crossroad Press.

Gates, B. E. (2007). Transforming religious education: beliefs and values under scrutiny. London: Continuum.

Gibbs, J.C. (2003). Moral development and reality: Beyond the theories of Kohlberg and Hoffman. Thousand Oaks: SAGE.

Kohlberg, L. (1984). Essays on moral development: The psychology of moral development. San Francisco: Harper and Row.

Pring, R. (2017). New perspectives on young children’s moral education: developing character through a virtue ethics approach. By Tony Eaude. British Journal of Educational Studies65(1), 135–136.

Tuohy, M, et al. 2012, Religion and Ethics in a Pluralist Society: VCE Religion and Society, Cengage Learning Australia, Melbourne.

Wolfe, R 2001, Ethics and World Religions – Cross-Cultural Case Studies, Orbis Books, Maryknoll, New York.


The Ethics Centre (formerly St James Ethics Centre)

Provides practical guidance for navigating ethical issues and online content.

Markula Centre for Applied Ethics

Provides ethical decision-making resources.

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