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  • Semester 1Multi-mode




EDIP606 Understanding Learners and Learning

Unit rationale, description and aim

This unit examines contemporary theories of educational psychology specifically related to knowing and learning. It draws on the Science of Learning and Development, brain processes and cultural psychology and uses them for understanding learning and their implications for educational practice. It will focus on the following issues: how cognitive, cultural, emotional and social developmental processes influence knowing and learning, and the implications of these for the acquisition of knowledge and skills in literacy and numeracy. Students will identify implications for interventions and activities relevant to School Psychology to improve provision for students who have learning problems and issues.

The aim of this unit is to support students in developing the required advanced knowledge, understanding and expert skills they need to address the differences and needs of individual learners.

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
LO1Explain contemporary theories of knowledge acquisition and learning (APST (Lead) 1.2)GC1, GC2, GC7, GC9, GC11
LO2Identify the variables which can impact on the learning process and lead to individual differences in learning (APST (Lead) 1.2)GC1, GC2, GC7, GC8, GC9
LO3Recognise common learning difficulties particularly in the area of numeracy and literacy (APST (Lead) 1.2, 5.4, 6.4, 7.1)GC1, GC2, GC7, GC8, GC9
LO4Design and or identify appropriate and inclusive intervention strategies for students with learning difficulties and learning disabilities (APST (HA) 1.5, 4.5; APST (Lead) 1.6, 2.3, 2.5, 3.1, 3.2, 3.6, 4.1, 6.4, 7.1)GC1, GC2, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC11


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

1.5 Differentiate teaching to meet the specific learning needs of students across the full range of abilities

Evaluate learning and teaching programs, using student assessment data, that are differentiated for the specific learning needs of students across the full range of abilities.

4.5 Use ICT safely, responsibly and ethically

Model, and support colleagues to develop, strategies to promote the safe, responsible and ethical use of ICT in learning and teaching.


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.

1.6 Strategies to support full participation of students with disability

Initiate and lead the review of school policies to support the engagement and full participation of students with disability and ensure compliance with legislative and/or system policies.

2.3 Curriculum, assessment and reporting

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

2.5 Literacy and numeracy strategies

Monitor and evaluate the implementation of teaching strategies within the school to improve students’ achievement in literacy and numeracy using research-based knowledge and student data.

3.1 Establish challenging learning goals

Demonstrate exemplary practice and high expectations and lead colleagues to encourage students to pursue challenging goals in all aspects of their education.

3.2 Plan, structure and sequence learning programs

Exhibit exemplary practice and lead colleagues to plan, implement and review the effectiveness of their learning and teaching programs to develop students’ knowledge, understanding and skills.

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.

4.1 Support student participation

Demonstrate and lead by example the development of productive and inclusive learning environments across the school by reviewing inclusive strategies and exploring new approaches to engage and support all students.

4.3 Managing challenging behaviour

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

5.4 Interpret student data

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

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.

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:

  • Theories of learning and cognitive development
  • Principles that describe cognition and the development of knowledge, concepts, propositions, maturation and environment. 
  • Qualitative changes in the development of knowing and thinking. Piaget’s theory and the Neo-Piagetian theories. Vygotsky’s theory.
  • The development of self-agency and metacognition, self-efficacy, and motivation.
  • Cognitive learning theories; constructivism and information-processing, the multi-store models and the levels of processing models of memory.
  • The development of emotions, social perceptions and skills and a social self-identity.
  • Variables creating individual differences in the learning process
  • Environmental influences and cultural interaction on the development of knowing, learning and thinking.
  • Behavioural theories of learning.

  • Theories of growth and maturation 
  • Knowledge as a networked system.
  • The phases of knowledge change during learning
  • Learning from a brain-based perspective

  • Contemporary theories of knowledge acquisition and learning
  • Learner variables that influence the learning process.  Factors that lead to individual differences in the learning process.  
  • The interaction between environmental effects and learning processes, for example, motivation to learn, preparedness to engage, perseverance and resilience as a learner. 
  • The types of assumptions typically made by regular teaching, the barriers they may lead to and how might these be targeted.

  • Development of literacy and numeracy skills
  • Developmental trends in literacy and numeracy skill acquisition and their implications for teaching.
  • How an understanding of contemporary theories of knowing and learning can inform ways to overcome barriers to literacy or numeracy learning.

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. 

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. This unit is supported by a unit Learning Management System (LMS) site.  

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.

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 you 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 learner differences and learner needs. 

The first task (50%) requires students to write a paper that evaluates the framework proposed in lectures for describing regular human development from the perspective of contemporary educational psychology. The second task (50%) requires students to elaborate how they would use the framework and any additional content to infer how to plan and implement an inclusive learning and teaching program in literacy or numeracy.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Assessment Task 1

Extended writing task

Students will write a paper that evaluates the framework developed in lectures for describing regular human development from the perspective of contemporary educational psychology.


LO1, LO2

Assessment Task 2

Students will write a paper describing how they would use the framework developed in lectures and any additional content they see as appropriate to infer how to plan and implement an inclusive learning and teaching program in literacy or numeracy.


LO3, LO4

Representative texts and references

Required text(s)

Duchesne, S., Bochner, S., & McMaugh, A. (2021). Educational psychology for learning and teaching. Cengage. ProQuest Ebook Central.

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2018). How people learn II: Learners, contexts, and cultures. National Academies Press.

Recommended references

Freeman, J. (2018). In and out of school: An introduction to applied psychology in education. Routledge Library Editions: Psychology of Education Series.

O'Donnell, A.M. (2019). Educational psychology (3rd Australian ed.). John Wiley & Sons Australia.

Gallard D., & Cartmell, K. M. (2015). Psychology and education. Routledge.

Kirschner, P. A., & Hendrick, (2020). How learning happens: Seminal works in educational psychology and what they mean in practice. Routledge.

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