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IEAC133 Attitudes and Inclusion

Unit rationale, description and aim

Special Education is one of the more challenging, dynamic, growing areas of education and is reflected in early childhood, primary and secondary learning contexts with many students with disability and diverse needs requiring high-quality differentiated teaching and personalised learning approaches. Evidenced-based, research-informed scholarly practice is promoted in careful planning, delivering and evaluating universally designed programs to engage all students in achieving their goals, particularly those often marginalised. In this specialisation, pre-service teachers are encouraged to work collaboratively with students, their families and other professionals to build whole-of-community networking, designed to improve each student’s cross-curricula lifelong learning outcomes and wellbeing.

Attitude formation evident in past and current discourse is examined and compared with students’ own familial, cultural, and peer group experiences. Processes and effects of stereotyping are identified by examination of media and local research, to articulate everyday examples of the ways people may be socially excluded in their daily lives. Pre-service teachers are encouraged to actively confront and develop strategies to address the barriers faced by people living with disability. An understanding of the experiences of families who are living with a family member with a disability is critical to pre-service teachers working in partnership with families. Pre-service teachers will gain an appreciation for the role of family members and will reflect on their own families to appreciate the varying ranges of family units and their functioning. Students will be challenged to consider their own professional practice when working with families.

The unit aims to explore attitude formation and engender broad understanding of the impact that societal attitudes to disability have on the social experiences of people living with disability and their families and the importance of advocacy.

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 - Identify multiple views of difference and disability from contemporary perspectives in local, Australian indigenous and international settings (GA1, GA4; APST 1.2, 1.3, 2.4; ACECQA A6, A7)

LO2 - Describe factors which contribute to attitude formation and the impact of attitudes on inclusion (GA1, GA4; APST 1.6; ACECQA B5, D1, D3, D4, D5)

LO3 - Examine and apply relevant policy and legal frameworks to supporting diverse learners (GA1, GA4, GA5; APST 1.2, 1.6, 4.1, 7.1, 7.2; ACECQA E2, E3)

LO4 - Research and reflect on the experiences of primary caregivers and/or sibling/s of a person living with disability including the impact of societal and professional attitudes to identify changes to improve the well-being of a child with a disability (GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA8; APST 7.2, 7.3; ACECQA A4, C5, C6, C7, F4)

Graduate attributes

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

GA2 - Recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society

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


On successful completion of this unit, pre-service teachers should be able to:

1.2 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of research into how students learn and the implications for teaching.

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.

1.6 Demonstrate broad knowledge and understanding of legislative requirements and teaching strategies that support participation and learning of students with disability.

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

4.1 Identify strategies to support inclusive student participation and engagement in classroom activities.

7.1 Understand and apply the key principles described in codes of ethics and conduct for the teaching profession.

7.2 Understand the relevant legislative, administrative and organisational policies and processes required for teachers according to school stage.

7.3 Understand strategies for working effectively, sensitively and confidentially with parents/carers.


On successful completion of this unit, pre-service teachers should have developed the following specific knowledge:

A. Child development and care

A4. Child health, wellbeing and safety

A6. Diversity, difference and inclusivity

A7. Learners with special needs/additional needs

B. Education and curriculum studies

B5. English as an additional language

C. Teaching pedagogies

C5. Children with diverse needs and backgrounds

C6. Working with children who speak languages other than, or in addition to, English

C7. Contemporary society and pedagogy

D. Family and community contexts

D1. Developing family and community partnerships

D3. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives

D4. Socially inclusive practice

D5. Culture, diversity and inclusion

E. History and philosophy of early childhood:

E2. Contemporary theories and practice

E3. Ethics and professional practice

F. Early childhood professional practice

      F4. Advocacy


Topics will include:

  • Attitudes, beliefs and relationship to behaviour – how our attitudes are formed
  • Attitudes about difference and impact of attitudes on others
  • Attitudes towards disability and gender, sexuality and Indigenous experience
  • Contemporary understanding of disability including classifications of needs and non-categorical approaches
  • Philosophy and research underpinning inclusive practice
  • Family systems concepts and the diverse and dynamic nature of family life across the life cycle
  • The varied experiences of families and family members: siblings and parents living with a disability
  • Impact of societal and professional attitudes on families
  • Understand the range of support services and strategies available to students and their families
  • Communicating with children and families particularly where there are communication and language difficulties; consultancy with stakeholders including advocacy
  • Relevant legislation and policy including Human Rights, Anti-Discrimination, Disability Standards, NDIS, Nationally Consistent Data collection, support strategies, legislation and policy underpinning inclusive practice.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Learning and teaching strategies include lectures, tutorials, review of resource material provided and group and individual discussion.

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 tasks and their weightings are designed to allow pre-service teachers to progressively demonstrate achievement against the course learning outcomes by demonstrating attainment of academic and professional standards and develop graduate attributes consistent with university assessment requirements. The first assessment task is an investigative and reflective task which enables pre-service teachers to examine societal representations towards disability and explore their own attitudes.  The second assessment task requires collaboration with peers and research into experiences of families with a child with a disability. The collaborative nature of the task further enables pre-service teachers to jointly consider their attitudes, expectations and aspirations for children with a disability.

Minimum Achievement Standard

The assessment tasks for this unit are designed to demonstrate achievement of each learning outcome. In order to pass this unit, students are required to complete all assessment tasks and gain an overall pass result.

Electronic Submission, Marking and Return

Electronic submission and marking of assignments through Turnitin will be used.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1

Media Representation

An evidence-based communication (e.g., presentation, brochure, essay) analysing public media representation of disability / inclusion / exclusion. Discuss the portrayal with reference to key legislation and policy and the positive/negative/otherwise impact on attitude formation of the public. Critically reflect on your attitudes towards inclusion in light of your own personal experiences and as a result of completing this assessment task.


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA1, GA4

Assessment Task 2

Review of Literature

A review of the literature that explores the experiences of families who have a child living with disability. Advocate changes which have the potential to improve the child’s well-being by reducing the barriers to inclusion.  Discuss Australia-based disability legislation and/or polices (e.g. DDA, DSE) and critically reflect on how legislation has influenced public’s perception and attitude/s towards inclusion and disability.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8

Representative texts and references

Required text(s)

Australian Human Rights Commission. (2018). A future without violence: Quality, safeguarding and oversight to prevent and address violence against people with disability in institutional settings. Sydney: Author.

Australian Human Rights Commission. (2019). Our choices, our voices: Close the gap. Sydney: Author.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2019). People with disability in Australia 2019. Cat. no. DIS 74. Canberra: AIHW.

Recommended references

Australian Curriculum

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA)

Brown, J.M. (2013). Recurrent grief in mothering a child with an intellectual disability to adulthood: Grieving is the healing. Child & Family Social Work, 21(1), 113-122.

Emerson, E., Llewellyn, G., Stancliffe, R., Badland, H., Kavanagh, A., & Disney, G. (2018). A fair go? Measuring Australia’s progress in reducing disadvantage for adults with disabilities (2001-2016). Melbourne, Vic: Centre of Research Excellence in Disability and Health: University of Melbourne.

Foreman, P., & Arthur-Kelly, M. (Eds.). (2017). Inclusion in action (5th ed.). South Melbourne, Vic: Cengage Learning Australia.

Iacono, T., Keeffe, M., Kenny, A., & McKinstry, C. (2019). A document review of exclusionary practices in the context of Australian school education policy. Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities 16(4): 264–272.

Jenkin, E., Spivakovsky, C., Joseph, S. & Smith, M. (2018). Improving educational outcomes for children with disability in Victoria. Castan Centre for Human Rights Law, Monash University.

Priest, N., Chong, S., Truong, M., Sharif, M., Dunn, K., Paradies, Y., Nelson, J., Alam, O., Ward, A., & Kavanagh, A. (2019). Findings from the 2017 speak out against racism (SOAR) student and staff surveys. Centre for Social Research and Methods. Canberra, ACT: Australian National University.

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