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  • Term Mode
  • Semester 2Online Unscheduled



Unit rationale, description and aim

Research on effective teaching indicates that teachers who understand how children learn and how different environmental and individual characteristics affect learning, can identify learning challenges more accurately and create effective learning environments for all children and, as a result, have better performing and engaged students. 

This unit focuses on how children learn and what we know about effective teaching and learning from educational and cognitive research. The students will learn how perception, attention and memory are critical to learning, how motivation is related to engagement and learning, how learning environments – both physical and social – can affect outcomes, and how the social environment can affect learning. They will then examine effective learning strategies and teaching practices for diverse students before focusing on learning to read as a specific example of how child, instruction and environmental characteristics affect learning.   

The aim of this unit is to equip students with necessary knowledge, skills and attitudes required for creating effective instruction and learning environments in general, and effective literacy instruction in specific, for all students

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 Description
LO1Locate and synthesise research on effective learning and teaching (APST Lead 1.5, 2.1, 2.5)
LO2Integrate different models of the learner and use the models to analyse successful and unsuccessful learning situations (APST HA 2.1, 2.5)
LO3Apply understanding of the learners, learning strategies, and effective instruction to design quality evidence-based example literacy lessons for diverse learners (APST HA 3.2, 5.4, Lead 5.4)


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

1.5  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.

2.1  Support colleagues using current and comprehensive knowledge of content and teaching strategies to develop and implement engaging learning and teaching programs.

2.5  Support colleagues to implement effective teaching strategies to improve students’ literacy and numeracy achievement.

3.2  Work with colleagues to plan, evaluate and modify learning and teaching programs to create productive learning environments that engage all students.

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


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

1.5  Lead colleagues to evaluate the effectiveness of learning and teaching programs differentiated for the specific learning needs of students across the full range of abilities.

2.1  Lead initiatives within the school to evaluate and improve knowledge of content and teaching strategies and demonstrate exemplary teaching of subjects using effective, research-based learning and teaching programs.

2.5  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

3.6 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.

5.1  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.

5.4  Co-ordinate student performance and program evaluation using internal and external student assessment data to improve teaching practice.


This unit comprises four modules:

 Module 1.  Cognitive Model of the Learner: Perception, Attention and Memory

  • Modal model of memory: how information goes from being perceived to paid attention to and to getting processed in working memory and stored in long-term memory
  • What prevents information from being learned
  • Controlling attention
  • Limitations of working memory and controlling the cognitive load

Module 2.  Psychological Model of the Learner: Motivation and Engagement

  • Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation
  • Engaging and motivating learning tasks

Module 3.  Socio-Cultural Model of the Learner: Learning Environment

  • Learning as a collaborative social and cognitive process
  • Collaboration with peers versus more knowledgeable others

Module 4.  Effective Learning Strategies and Instruction

  • Effective (and ineffective) learning strategies
  • Effective differentiated instruction
  • Organising instruction and assessments to support effective learning of all students

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit is offered in multi-mode format and supported by a unit Learning Management System (LMS) site. In all modes, students are required to use the online learning platform that provides asynchronous access to lectures, readings, and quizzes. In a weekly attendance mode, students are required also to attend tutorials, presentations, and discussions in person in specific physical location/s whereas in an intensive mode the required in-person sessions take place during weekends or other blocks of time determined by the school. In online mode, students are required to participate in a series of interactive online workshops in addition to the regular online learning.

Engagement for learning is the key driver in the delivery of this unit. The unit will facilitate active participation in pedagogical approaches that demonstrate alignment of teaching, learning and assessment and incorporate: 

  • Online digital resources, including reference readings, database and document searches, and recorded lectures from experts; 
  • Online or face-to-face small group collaborative learning to foster reflective practice following the personal analysis, evaluation and synthesis of relevant literature and current practices in different schools; 
  • Online forum and chat tools to build a community of learners; and 
  • Problem-based learning sessions to develop necessary skills and analyse and apply learning to school case studies. 

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.

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

In order to successfully complete this unit, the students need to complete and pass all three assessment tasks.

The first task (20%) consists of weekly quizzes that assess understanding of the core content of lectures and readings and provides students an opportunity to continuously monitor their own learning. The second task (40%) requires students to demonstrate their understanding of cognitive, psychological and socio-cultural models of the learner and integrate them into their own model of the learner to guide their practice. The third task (40%) requires the students to translate their model of the learner to designing instruction and assessment tasks that maximize the use of effective learning strategies and meet the needs of all students.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Assessment Task 1 – Weekly Quizzes

Students will complete a short quiz every week assessing their comprehension of the content presented in lectures and readings


LO1, LO3

Assessment Task 2 – Written assignment

Analyse current models of the learner and construct your own instructional model of the learner that (1) is supported by existing cognitive, psychological and socio-cultural models and evidence for them, and (2) can guide differentiated instruction and assessment practices in a classroom


LO1, LO2

Assessment Task 3 – Written assignment

Design four lessons that consider your model of the learner, what you have learned about effective learning strategies, and meet the needs of all students in your current or past classroom. 


LO1, LO2, LO3

Representative texts and references

Archer, A. L., & Hughes, C. A. (2011). Explicit instruction: Effective and efficient teaching. Guilford.

Bondie, R & Zusho, A. (2018). Differentiated instruction made practical: Engaging extremes through classroom routines. Routledge.

Burns, M. S., Griffin, P., & Snow, C. E. (Eds.) (2013) Starting out right: A guide to promoting children’s reading success. National Research Council. Available at

Dehaene, S. (2020). How we learn. Viking.

Dunlosky, J., Rawson, K. A., Marsh, E. J., Nathan, M. J., & Willingham, D. T. (2013). Improving students' learning with effective learning techniques: Promising directions from cognitive and educational psychology. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 14(1), 4–58.

Hollingsworth, J., & Ybarra, S. (2009). Explicit direct instruction (EDI): The power of the well-crafted, well-taught lesson. Corwin Press.

Karpicke, J. D. & O’Day, G. M. (in press). Elements of effective memory. In M. J. Kahana & A. D. Wagner (Eds.), Oxford Handbook of Human Memory, Volume II: Applications. Oxford University Press. Preprint available at:

Kirschner, P. A., & van Merriënboer, J. J. G. (2013). Do learners really know best? Urban legends in education. Educational Psychologist, 48, 169–183.

Mayer, R. E., & Moreno, R. (2003). Nine ways to reduce cognitive load in multimedia learning. Educational Psychologist, 38, 43–52.

Pashler, H., Bain, P. M., Bottge, B. A., Graesser, A., Koedinger, K., McDaniel, M., & Metcalfe, J. (2007). Organizing instruction and study to improve student learning. IES practice guide. NCER 2007–2004. National Center for Education Research.

Pomerance, L., Greenberg, J., & Walsh, K. (2016). Learning about learning: What every teacher needs to know. Retrieved from

Roediger, H. L., Finn, B., & Weinstein, Y. (2012). Applications of cognitive science to education. In Della Sala, S., & Anderson, M. (Eds.), Neuroscience in education: The good, the bad, and the ugly. Oxford University Press.

Seidenberg, M.S., Borkenhagen, M.C., Kearns, D.M. (2020) Lost in translation? Challenges in connecting reading science and educational practice. Reading Research Quarterly, 55 (1), 119-S130.

Snow, C. E., Burns, M. S. & Griffin, P. (Eds.) (1998). Preventing reading difficulties in young children. National Research Council. Available at

St. Martin, K., Vaughn, S., Troia, G., Fien, & H., Coyne, M. (2020). Intensifying literacy instruction: Essential practices. Lansing, MI: MiMTSS Technical Assistance Center, Michigan Department of Education.

Tomlinson, C. A. (2017). How to differentiate instruction in academically diverse classrooms (3rd ed.). ASCD.

Valiandes, S. & Neophytou, L. (2017). Teachers’ guide to differentiated instruction. DiDeSu. Available from

Wanzek, J., Al Otaiba, S. & McMaster, K. L. (2019). Intensive reading interventions for the elementary grades. Guilford.

Wapole, S., McKenna, M. C., Philippakos, Z. A., & Strong, J. Z. (2017). Differentiated literacy instruction. Routledge

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