Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Unit rationale, description and aim

Good reading comprehension underpins all school learning and lays the foundation for success in secondary and postsecondary studies. Reading comprehension is identified as a critical outcome for literacy instruction in every Australian primary school curriculum and the Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) accreditation requirements mandate that teacher education programs include evidence-based approaches to teaching reading comprehension. It is therefore critical that teachers working with developing readers understand how reading comprehension is conceptualised in reading research and can analyse research on effective comprehension instruction. It is also essential that teachers know how to design evidence-based, differentiated instruction for their students, how to assess their students’ comprehension and how to evaluate the effectiveness of their comprehension instruction. 

This unit examines reading comprehension as a theoretically complex multi-componential construct with different approaches to understanding how comprehension develops, challenges in developing comprehension skills, and how comprehension is best taught in school. Students will analyse the roles of word reading ability, reading fluency, vocabulary and oral language ability in reading comprehension and examine different evidence-based teaching strategies and techniques for improving reading comprehension. They will further consider different assessment practices, including progress monitoring, and create a plan for reading comprehension instruction and assessment for their current or future students. 

The aim of this unit is to provide students with the knowledge and skills to lead their colleagues in developing effective reading comprehension instruction and assessments for students with diverse needs. 

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
LO1Compare different theories of reading comprehension (APST HA 2.1)
LO2Explain what evidence existing reading comprehension research has produced for different instructional practices (APST HA 1.2, Lead 2.5)
LO3Evaluate which practices and instructional approaches are best suited for different students and purposes (APST Lead 1.1L, 5.2)
LO4Design evidence-based reading comprehension instruction for diverse groups of students (APST HA 1.6, 2.3, 4.1, Lead 1.1, 2.1, 3.3)
LO5Assess reading comprehension and components supporting it and monitor the progress of their students make on these (APST HA 5.1, 5.2)
LO6Evaluate the effectiveness of their reading comprehension instruction (APST 5.4, Lead 1.2, 1.5, 3.6)


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

1.2 Understand how students learn

Expand understanding of how students learn using research and workplace knowledge.

1.6 Strategies to support full participation of students with disability

Work with colleagues to access specialist knowledge, and relevant policy and legislation, to develop teaching programs that support the participation and learning of students with disability.

2.1 Content and teaching strategies of the teaching area

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

2.3 Curriculum, assessment and reporting

Support colleagues to plan and implement learning and teaching programs using contemporary knowledge and understanding of curriculum, assessment and reporting requirements.

4.1 Support student participation

Model effective practice and support colleagues to implement inclusive strategies that engage and support all students.

5.1 Assess student learning

Develop and apply a comprehensive range of assessment strategies to diagnose learning needs, comply with curriculum requirements and support colleagues to evaluate the effectiveness of their approaches to assessment.

5.2 Provide feedback to students on their learning

Select from an effective range of strategies to provide targeted feedback based on informed and timely judgements of each student’s current needs in order to progress learning.

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.


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.

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

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 Content and teaching strategies of the teaching area

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 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.

3.3 Use teaching strategies

Work with colleagues to review, modify and expand their repertoire of teaching strategies to enable students to use knowledge, skills, problem solving and critical and creative thinking.

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.

5.2 Provide feedback to students on their learning

Model exemplary practice and initiate programs to support colleagues in applying a range of timely, effective and appropriate feedback strategies.


Topics will include:

  • Reading comprehension theories and components
  • Comprehension in simple (and not so simple) view of reading
  • Understanding the relationships between spoken and written language
  • Components of reading comprehension (e.g., word reading accuracy and fluency, vocabulary, content knowledge, inference generation)


  • Evidence-based reading comprehension instruction
  • Teaching techniques and strategies and (e.g., summarising, reciprocal teaching, text structure knowledge)
  • Teaching oral language to support comprehension
  • Teaching content knowledge to support comprehension
  • Comprehending different kinds of texts


  • Adaptive teaching of reading comprehension and supporting readers with comprehension difficulties
  • Typical variability in students’ reading comprehension skills
  • Common reading comprehension difficulties among students
  • Designing reading comprehension instruction that engages all students


  • Reading comprehension assessment and progress monitoring
  • Identifying and designing effective comprehension assessments
  • Progress monitoring and program effectiveness 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

The reading comprehension 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.

This unit uses an active learning approach to support students in acquiring, exploring, and analysing the essential knowledge associated with reading comprehension instruction and assessment. Students will engage in an experiential learning cycle of conceptual learning and inquiry; engagement with existing research; active experimentation in their classrooms; collecting and evaluating evidence, and engaging in a new conceptual learning and inquiry topic. 

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 instructional and assessment practices in different schools
  • Online forum and chat tools to build a community of learners
  • 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 two tasks offer students opportunities to demonstrate knowledge of reading comprehension theories, research, instruction and assessments, and the third allows them to show their skills in designing effective practices for their students and schools. 

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 (30%) requires students to demonstrate their understanding of issues associated with reading comprehension theory and research by explicating their own instructional theory. The third task (50%) is related to knowledge of evidence-based instruction and assessments, and requires the students to apply their knowledge and skills to designing evidence-based reading comprehension instruction and assessment for their current or future students.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Assessment Task 1 – Weekly Quizzes

Weekly quiz assessing comprehension of the content presented in lectures and readings


LO1, LO2, LO3

Assessment Task 2 – Written assignment

Analysis of current theories of reading comprehension and construction of instructional theory that (1) is supported by existing theories and evidence, and (2) can guide differentiated instruction and assessment of students.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

Assessment Task 3 - Written assignment

Compose a plan for an evidence-based reading comprehension instruction and assessment for one school year for current or future students.


LO4, LO5, LO6

Representative texts and references

Papers on theory and definition of reading comprehension, interplay between written and spoken language: 

Castles, A., Rastle K., & Nation, K. (2018). Ending the reading wars: Reading acquisition from novice to expert. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 19, 5-51.

Nation, K. (2019). Children’s reading difficulties, language, and reflections on the Simple View of Reading. Australian Journal of Learning Difficulties, 24, 47-73. doi: 10.1080/19404158.2019.1609272 

Oakhill, Cain & Elbro (2019). Reading comprehension and reading comprehension difficulties. Book chapter: 

Snow, C. E. (2018). Simple and Not-So-Simple Views of Reading. Remedial and Special Education, 39, 313-316. doi: 1d0o.i.1o1rg7/71/00.17147179/037245119382757108278708288  

Tunmer, W. & Hoover, W. (2019) The Cognitive Foundations of Reading and its Acquisition: a framework for preventing and remediating reading difficulties. Australian Journal of Learning Difficulties, 24 (1), 1-9

Papers on the importance of knowledge: 

Catts, H. W. (2022). Rethinking how to promote reading comprehension. American Educator, Winter 2021-22, 26-33. 

Elleman, A. M., & Compton, D. L. (2017). Beyond comprehension strategy instruction: What’s next? Language, Speech and hearing Services in Schools, 48, 84-91. 

Smith, R., Snow, P., Serry, T., & Hammond, L. (2021). The role of background knowledge in reading comprehension: A critical review. Reading Psychology. 

Papers on assessment: 

Keenan, J. M., Betjemann, R. S., & Olson, R. K. (2008). Reading comprehension tests vary in the skills they assess: Differential dependence on decoding and oral comprehension. Scientific Studies of Reading, 12, 281-300. doi: 10.1080/10888430802132279 

Collins, A. A., Compton, D. L., Lindstrom, E. R., & Gilbert, J. K. (2020). Performance variations across reading comprehension assessments: Examining the unique contributions of text, activity, and reader. Reading and Writing, 33, 605-634. 

Colenbrander, D. C., Nickels, L., & Kohnen, S. (2016). Similar but different: differences in comprehension diagnosis on the Neale Analysis of Reading Ability and the York Assessment of Reading for Comprehension. Journal of Research in Reading, 40, 403-419. 

Books that are helpful resources for developing instruction: 

Clarke, P. J., Truelove, E., Hulme, C., & Snowling, M. J. (2014). Developing reading comprehension. Oxford, UK: Wiley Blackwell.  

Beck, I. L., McKeown, M. G., & Sandora, C. A. (2021). Robust comprehension instruction with questioning the author: 15 Years Smarter. Guildford. 

Klinger, J., Vaughn, S. & Boardman, A. (2015). Teaching reading comprehension to students with learning difficulties. Guilford.

Have a question?

We're available 9am–5pm AEDT,
Monday to Friday

If you’ve got a question, our AskACU team has you covered. You can search FAQs, text us, email, live chat, call – whatever works for you.

Live chat with us now

Chat to our team for real-time
answers to your questions.

Launch live chat

Visit our FAQs page

Find answers to some commonly
asked questions.

See our FAQs