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  • Semester 1Multi-mode


EDAP613 Exceptional Children and Atypical Development


EDIP608 Identifying How Exceptional Learners Learn

Unit rationale, description and aim

Educational assessment and evaluation is pivotal to enhancing learning outcomes for students and guiding effective teaching practices. These processes of making a judgement or measurement in education involves gathering and evaluating data evolving from planned learning activities, delivery of instructions and/or programs.

This unit examines the theoretical perspectives of cognitive, behavioural, and academic assessments and builds knowledge and skills pertaining to the measurement and scoring of assessment structures, alongside a strong focus on interpretation and diagnostic processes to support individual assessment planning to support enhanced learning and teaching. It builds on the coverage of exceptional knowing and learning in EDAP613 and develops the knowledge and skill needed for the comprehensive assessment and diagnosis of the various types of exceptional learning and includes the interpretation and use of psychometric data and functional behavioural analysis. Additionally, there is a strong focus on the ethical, legal, and professional issues associated with the conduct of educational assessment.

The aim of this unit is to support students in developing the required advanced knowledge, understanding and expert skills they need to function effectively in an allied psychology role.

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.

Learning Outcome NumberLearning Outcome DescriptionRelevant Graduate Capabilities
LO1Identify the theoretical perspectives and practical aspects of gathering and interpreting educational and behavioural data (APST 1.2, 2.3 (Lead)GC1, GC2, GC7, GC9, GC11
LO2Apply assessment decisions based on current ethical, legal and professional expectations demonstrating awareness of the challenges in assessing children. (APST 2.3, 5.1, 5.3, 7.1 (Lead))GC1, GC2, GC7, GC8, GC9
LO3Appraise relevant screening measures and identify when and how to make a referral to allied health professionals (APST1.2, 3.7, 5.1, 5.4, 7.4 (Lead))GC1, GC2, GC4, GC7, GC8, GC9
LO4Create individual programs based on data collected from assessments, interviews, observations and reports from other professionals (APST 1.2, 2.3, 3.6, 4.3, 5.1, 5.4, 7.4 (Lead)GC1, GC2, GC4, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC11


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

1.2 Understand how students learn

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

2.3 Curriculum, assessment and reporting

Lead colleagues to develop learning and teaching programs using comprehensive knowledge of curriculum, assessment and reporting requirements.

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.

3.7 Engage parents/carers in the educative process

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

4.3 Managing challenging behaviour

Lead and implement behaviour management initiatives to assist colleagues to broaden their range of strategies.

5.1 Assess student learning

Evaluate school assessment policies and strategies to support colleagues with: using assessment data to diagnose learning needs, complying with curriculum, system and/or school assessment requirements and using a range of assessment strategies.

5.3 Make consistent and comparable judgments

Lead and evaluate moderation activities that ensure consistent and comparable judgements of student learning to meet curriculum and school or system requirements.

5.4 Interpret student data

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

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.

7.4 Engage with professional teaching networks and broader communities

Take a leadership role in professional and community networks and support the involvement of colleagues in external learning opportunities.


Topics will include: 

  • Theoretical perspectives of cognitive, behavioural and academic assessment: key concepts in educational assessment (purposes, tasks, contexts for data collection, the concepts of a population and a sample, norm-referenced and criterion referenced decisions and assessments), types of scores (raw scores and the scores derived from these, for example percentile ranks) and types or levels of measurement or scaling (nominal, ordinal, interval, ratio, Rasch scaling), types of distributions that are relevant to students outcomes, summative and formative assessment.
  • Introduction to measurement and scores characteristics of the normal distribution and variants), descriptive statistics for a cohort (central tendency and spread or dispersion, standard scores (z and t scores, specialised standard scores)), interpreting outcomes on individual assessment tasks (confidence limits). 
  • Psychometric features of a standardised test: its reliability, validity (content, criterion, predictive, construct), standard error of measurement. 
  • Assessment of extended responses: examples of tasks comprising multiple dimensions for assessment (problem solutions, essays, projects, products, authentic assessments, oral presentations), steps in developing the task (planning, developing, critiquing the assessment, developing the dimensions for assessment (rubric), content-process grids, combining scores for multi-dimensional tasks.
  • Observational and behavioural assessments: analysis of the teacher observation process; collecting and recording evidence of student behaviours and learning; planning for teacher and parent observations, naturalistic data collection, factors that affect the validity of teacher observations; analysis of measurements of frequency of behaviours, Functional Behavioural Analysis . Conducting and interpreting structured observations. Conducting interviews. Response to Intervention – Individual level. 
  • Types of assessment- cognitive, behavioural and academic: the assessment structures of commonly used types of items; reading comprehension and numeracy scales, general ability scales, nonverbal scales, oral language scales, functional assessment scales, perceptual motor scales. Types of tasks. Strategies for evaluating and selecting assessment scales according to the intended purposes.
  • Interpreting scores on multiple tests; combining and comparing scores from two or more assessments comparing means using t-test, correlations. Reading and understanding reports from allied health professional.
  • The diagnostic process and the decisions made at each phase (screening, analysis of patterns, causes, recommendations). Dynamic assessment procedures. Screening and when to make a referral
  • Review of the quality of assessment; assessment results analysis, moderation processes, student evaluation feedback on teaching and assessment, staff peer reviews of assessment designs and tasks, benchmarking processes
  • Development of an individual assessment plan.
  • Ethical, legal and professional issues.

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.

The unit uses a combination of multiple methods or approaches working implicitly to assist students to progress purposefully toward the unit’s goals in a constructive way. They work through and reflect on the content in the core set of resources, explore, evaluate, and elaborate it in tutorial settings and apply it. It is supported by a Learning Management System (LMS) site.

Mode of delivery: This unit will be offered in one or more of modes of delivery described below, chosen with the aim of providing flexible delivery of academic content.

  • 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.
  • Intensive: In an intensive mode, students require face-to-face attendance on weekends or any block of time determined by the school. Students will have face-to-face interactions with lecturer(s) to further their achievement of the learning outcomes. This unit is structured with required upfront preparation before workshops. The online learning platforms used in this unit provide multiple forms of preparatory and practice opportunities for students to prepare and revise. 
  • Multi-mode: 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.

Assessment strategy and rationale

To successfully complete this unit, postgraduate students need to submit and pass two graded assessment tasks. The assessment strategy used allows students to demonstrate their knowledge and skill related to educational behavioural and functional assessment.

The first task (50%) requires students to analyse and synthesise the research knowledge and skills required to implement effective evidence-based practice for exceptional learners. The second task (50%) requires students to appraise and interpret the assessment data for an individual student who displays an exceptional learning profile and recommends an appropriate intervention program.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Assessment Task 1 

Extended Writing Task that unpacks and synthesizes the knowledge and skills needed to implement effective evidence-based practice for exceptional learners. This will include: 

  • multiple definitions and purposes of assessment for intervention, 
  • theoretical perspectives of cognitive, behavioural and academic assessment for diagnosis,
  • the collection, interpretation and synthesis of data to assist decision-making
  • generation of key diagnostic hypotheses and analysis of the diagnostic process
  • the development of individual assessment plans
  • protocols for the selection and evaluation of appropriate assessment scales
  • controversies in relation to assessment
  • and ethical, legal and professional expectations.
  • <


LO1, LO2

Assessment Task 2 

A paper that appraises and interprets the assessment data for an individual student and recommends an individual intervention program


LO3, LO4

Representative texts and references

Required text(s)

Duchesne, S., McMaugh, A., & Mackenzie, E. (2022). Educational psychology for learning and teaching (7th Ed.).  Cengage Learning Australia.

Recommended references

Alberto, P.A., & Troutman, A.C. (2012). Applied behavior analysis for teachers (9th ed.). Pearson.

Andren, K. J., & Brown-Chidsey, R. (2012). Assessment for intervention a problem-solving approach (2nd ed.). Guilford Press.

Geva, E., & Wiener, J. (2015). Psychological assessment of culturally and linguistically diverse children and adolescents : a practitioner's guide. Springer Publishing Company. 

Matson, J. L. (Ed.). (2021). Functional assessment for challenging behaviors and mental health disorders. Springer Nature.

McEwan, E.K., & Damer, M. (2000). Managing unmanageable students. Corwin Press.

Merrell, K.W., Ervin, R.A., & Peacock, G.G. (2012). School psychology for the 21st Century: Foundations and practices (2nd ed.). Guilford Press. 

Moss, N. E., & Moss-Racusin, L. (2021). Practical guide to child and adolescent psychological testing. Springer.

Ridden, P., & Heldsinger, S. (2014). What teachers need to know about assessment and reporting. ACER Press.

Sattler, J.M. (2018). Assessment of children: Cognitive foundations and applications (6th ed.). Jerome M. Sattler.

Sattler, J.M. (2014). Foundations of behavioral, social, and clinical assessment of children (6th ed.). Jerome M. Sattler.

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