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  • Term Mode
  • Semester 2Online Unscheduled


EDAP612 Learner Differences and Learner Needs


EDIP607 Exceptional Learners and Learning

Unit rationale, description and aim

Schools are required to accommodate an increasingly broad range of exceptional learning students. Their learning profiles display combinations of cognitive, emotional, social, behavioural, and cultural issues.

This unit introduces students to groups within the population whose learning profiles or development is exceptional or atypical. The knowledge constructed in EDAP612 is used to analyse various types of learning exceptionality and to inform an understanding of individual differences and atypical development.  It will develop a framework for unpacking and understanding exceptional learning, apply it to understand how various types or categories of exceptional learning influence literacy and numeracy learning and their implications for teaching.

The aim of this unit is to support students in developing advanced knowledge, understanding and expert skills needed for enhancing the development of children atypical and exceptional development.

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
LO1Describe typical and atypical development and how they relate to theories of growth, maturation, learning and cognitive development (APST 1.1, 1.2 (HA &/or Lead)GC1, GC2, GC7, GC9
LO2Identify characteristics of specific atypical groups, understand the assessment involved in making a diagnosis and referral processes and be able to develop support plans for individual students and teachers. (APST 3.7, 5.4,6.1, 7.1, 7.2, 7.4 (HA &/or Lead)GC1, GC2, GC4, GC7, GC9, GC11
LO3Design inclusive practices, adjustment and support strategies for students with specific needs in the context of “Universal Design for Learning” and “Response to Intervention” (APST 4.1, 4.3, 7.1, 7.2 (HA &/or Lead)GC1, GC2, GC7, GC8, GC9
LO4Apply interpersonal skills and relevant knowledge to communicate with parents and involve them in the decision making and information gathering in relation to inclusive practices, adjustments and support strategies including leading program support group meetings (APST 3.7, 4.1, 5.5, 7.1, 7.3 (HA &/or Lead)GC1, GC2, GC4, GC6, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC11, GC12


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

4.3 Managing challenging behaviour

Initiate and take responsibility for implementing current school and/ or system, curriculum and legislative requirements to ensure student wellbeing and safety.

5.4 Interpret student data

Work with colleagues to use data from internal and external student assessments for evaluating learning and teaching, identifying interventions and modifying teaching practice.

5.5 Report on student achievements

Work with colleagues to construct accurate, informative and timely reports to students and parents/carers about student learning and achievement.

6.1 Identify and plan professional learning needs

Analyse the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers to plan personal professional development goals, support colleagues to identify and achieve personal development goals and pre-service teachers to improve classroom practice.

7.1 Meet professional ethics and responsibilities

Maintain high ethical standards and support colleagues to interpret codes of ethics and exercise sound judgement in all school and community contexts.

7.2 Comply with legislative, administrative and organisational requirements

Support colleagues to review and interpret legislative, administrative, and organisational requirements, policies and processes.

7.3 Engage with the parents/carers

Demonstrate responsiveness in all communications with parents/carers about their children’s learning and wellbeing.

7.4 Engage with professional teaching networks and broader communities

Contribute to professional networks and associations and build productive links with the wider community to improve teaching and learning.


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

1.1 Physical, social and intellectual development and characteristics of students

Lead colleagues to select and develop teaching strategies to improve student learning using knowledge of the physical, social and intellectual development and characteristics of students.

1.2 Understand how students learn

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

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.

4.1 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.


Topics will include:

1.Typical and atypical development using the synthesized framework for describing regular development in EDAP612 as a conceptual tool to explain atypical knowing:

  • broadening the framework to consider sensory and motor processing difficulties
  • implications for identification
  • the DSM approach to identifying categories of atypical knowing
  • brain processing as a tool for understanding atypical knowing 

2. The causes of exceptional learning and atypical development:  

  • growth and maturation, learning, and cognitive development that lead to individual differences
  • accelerated, delayed, and exceptional development across childhood 
  • types of causes that lead to atypical development – genetic, biochemical, and physiological, interactions with environment.  

3. Academic exceptionalities

  • developmental dyslexia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia
  • Intellectual disabilities, fragile X, more severe
  • giftedness and talent
  • sensory and motor issues that impact on academic ability, including dysgraphia, developmental motor disorder, visual and auditory processing difficulties.

4. Emotional and behavioural disorders

  • Severe affective issues, including anxiety, withdrawal and other internalizing emotions.
  • AD/HD
  • Behavioral disorders including conduct disorder, obsessive behavioural disorders, externalizing emotional disorders (including aggression and anger)

5 The impact of an exceptional learning profile on literacy and numeracy learning and intervention

  • The impact of the main exceptional learning profiles on literacy and numeracy acquisition
  • The implications for literacy and numeracy intervention
  • Inclusion through teaching. Mapping differentiated teaching into intervention.

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 lectures, 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.

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 complete and submit two graded assessment tasks. The assessment strategy used allows students to demonstrate their knowledge and skill related to exceptional children and atypical development. 

The first task (50%) requires students to examine critically the application of the framework describing the learning characteristics of one category of exceptionality. The second task (50%) requires students to apply an intervention model for teaching one category of exceptionality. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Assessment Task 1

A critical examination of the application of the framework describing the learning characteristics of one category of exceptionality covered in lectures.  



Assessment Task 2

Application of the intervention model for teaching one category of exceptionality covered in lectures.  


LO2, LO3, LO4

Representative texts and references

Bar-On, A., Ravid, D., & Dattner, E. (Eds.). (2018). Handbook of communication disorders. De Gruyter Mouton..

Berk, L. (2012). Child development (9th ed.)Pearson.

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

Hulme, C., & Snowling, M. J. (2013). Developmental disorders of language learning and cognition. John Wiley & Sons.

Hyde, M., Carpenter, L., & Conway, R. (Eds.). (2017). Diversity, inclusion and engagement. (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press

Kirk, S., Gallagher, J., Coleman, N., & Anastasiow, N. (2015). Educating exceptional children (14th ed.). Wadsworth, Cengage learning.

Misciagna, S. (2022). (Ed.). Learning disabilities: Neurobiology, assessment, clinical features and treatments. Intechopen BoD–Books on Demand.

Rix, J., Nind, M., Sheehy, K., Simmons, K., & Walsh, C. (Eds.). (2010). Equality, participation and inclusion (2nd ed.). Routledge.

Ryan, C. S. (Ed.). (2017). Learning DIsabilities: An international perspective. London, Intechopen BoD–Books on Demand.

Smith, C. M. M. (Ed.). (2006). Including the gifted and talented: Making inclusion work for more gifted and able learners. Routledge.

Sternberg, R. J., & Preiss, D. D. (Eds.). (2010). Innovations in educational psychology: Perspectives on learning, teaching, and human development. Springer

Ullman, M.T., Earle. F.S., Walenski, M., Janacsek, K. & Fiske, S.T. (2020). The neurocognition of developmental disorders of language. Annual review of psychology 71(1): 389-417.

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