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  • Semester 2Multi-mode
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  • Semester 1Online Unscheduled
  • Semester 2Online Scheduled
  • Term Mode
  • Semester 1Multi-mode
  • Semester 2Multi-mode



Unit rationale, description and aim

Aspiring teachers need to develop and demonstrate an understanding of thinking, learning and motivation. Students need to apply this knowledge to firstly understand themselves as learners and to understand how others learn in a range of contexts.

The unit begins with the understanding that learning is based on what the learner already knows. Because of this, emphasis is placed on understanding the multiple ways in which learners can represent and organise knowledge. The unit will then explore the processes by which learners acquire and interact with new information and skills, the processes related to memory and recall, and the development of fluency and expertise. The concepts of motivation and attention and their impact on learning are also examined. The knowledge and skills that students will construct, will form the infrastructure that will be used in this course.

The overall aim of this unit is to encourage aspiring teachers to think critically about their own conceptions of learning and teaching and how to build on and facilitate, the learning experiences of others.

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 and critically review theories related to knowledge, understanding, memory and expertise (APST 1.1, 1.2)GC1, GC7, GC11
LO2Articulate the assumptions, concepts, principles, and applications of a range of theories or theoretical frameworks that inform the processes of learning including attention, motivation, self-efficacy, experience and culture (APST 1.1, 1.2, 1.3)GC1, GC9, GC11
LO3Reflect on, and examine themselves, their peers, and others as learners based on seminal and contemporary theories (APST 1.1, 1.2)GC1, GC2, GC3, GC11
LO4Interpret research and other scholarly resources and employ their findings, conclusions and generalisations to support the creation of effective learning opportunities for young people (APST 1.2)GC1, GC2, GC8, GC11


On successful completion of this unit, pre-service teachers should be able to:

1.1 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of physical, social and intellectual development and characteristics of students and how these may affect learning.

1.2 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of research into how students learn and the implications for teaching.

1.3 Demonstrate knowledge of teaching strategies that are responsive to the learning strengths and needs of students from diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds.


Topics will include:

  • What does it mean to know something? Multiple ways of knowing (e.g. abstract, experiential, procedural, emotional, thinking, identity, cultural and attitudinal)
  • Theoretical conceptualization of learning:
  • Neurological foundations
  • Behavioural views of learning
  • Cognitive explanations of learning
  • Humanist approaches to learning
  • Constructivism
  • Influences on learning:
  • Motivation and engagement
  • Attention, observation and practice
  • Metacognition & self-regulation
  • Self-efficacy and experience
  • Culture
  • Theories of Intelligence and the development of expertise
  • Differentiating learning

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

The learning and teaching strategy for this unit is based on a Constructivist approach that recognises that learning builds on pre-existing understandings and is shaped by a learner’s sociocultural context. In line with the chosen learning and teaching strategy, this unit includes content delivery designed to encourage active learning and engagement, and teaching methods designed to consolidate the learning of content, apply knowledge to problem-solving tasks and develop analytical and evaluating skills. The learning and teaching strategy is achieved through a range of learning activities such as reading, reflection, discussion, and engagement with webinars, podcasts and video resources. There will be opportunities for pre-service teachers to analyse education-based case studies. Pre-service teachers will gain an understanding of diverse points of view of their peers.

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 teaching period comprising of directed tasks and self-study. This unit positions pre-service teachers as adult learners with a responsibility for their own learning and who are capable of problem-solving. The learning in this unit is inquiry-based, learner-focused and student-centred.

The unit is hosted on a Learning Management System (LMS) site with resources and online links, announcements, and a discussion board to post questions and reflections that promote connection between content and educational experiences.

Mode of delivery: This unit may be offered in different modes to cater to the learning needs and preferences of a range of participants.

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.


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.

ACU Online 

In ACU Online mode, this unit is delivered asynchronously, fully online using an active, guided learning approach. Pre-service teachers are encouraged to contribute to asynchronous weekly discussions and receive regular and timely feedback on their learning. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment tasks and their weightings are designed to allow students to demonstrate progressively their achievement against the course learning outcomes by demonstrating attainment of academic and professional standards and develop graduate attributes consistent with university assessment requirements.

The first assessment task is aligned with the introductory parts of the unit. It facilitates the process of self-reflective and the development of students’ observational skills. It enables students to examine and explore their own learning and the learning of others and scrutinize them within relevant theories of learning.

The second assessment task incorporates a planning activity undertaken in educational settings. The task allows students to gain insights into how their peers learn and jointly create an effective learning environment. 

The final assessment task is a summative test that helps in measuring the achievement of the unit learning outcomes.

Minimum Achievement Standards

The assessment tasks and their weighting for this unit are designed to demonstrate the achievement of each learning outcome. In order to pass this unit, students are required to submit all assessment tasks, meet the learning outcomes of the unit and achieve a minimum overall passing grade of 50%.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Assessment Task 1: Learning portfolio

Students will create a thematic portfolio to present three case studies. The students will dedicate a separate entry for each case study. Each case study should describe and analyse a different learning issue. The context of the first case study is the student (themselves); the second is a peer; and the third is another learner external to the unit who may be an older child or adolescent. The participant is expected to profile the context of learning of each case study and provide concrete examples as evidence of learning and frame their profiles within the premises of an adopted learning theory and be informed by a review of related literature.


LO1, LO2, LO3

Assessment Task 2: A comprehensive application of learning theories.

Students will address an allocated scenario. The response must draw on one or more theoretical frameworks that help explain the process of learning in the allocated scenario and provide a plan to address the learning issues identified in the scenario. The plan should be informed by current research and respond to the needs of learners with differing physical, social and intellectual characteristics.


LO1, LO2, LO4

Assessment Task 3: Final Examination

This assessment is a summative examination that will target the unit learning outcomes. It will be composed of a variety of question-types.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

Representative texts and references

Required text(s)

Australian Curriculum

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) .

Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) Australian Professional Standards for Teachers

Relevant State and Territory curriculum documents. 

Suggested textbooks (one of the following textbooks)

Duschesne, S. & McMaugh, A. (2019). Educational psychology for learning and teaching (6th ed.). Cengage Learning Australia.

Margetts, K., & Woolfolk, A. E. (2019). Educational psychology (5th ed.). Pearson Australia.

O’Donnell, A. M., Dobozy, E., Bartlett, B.J., & Nagel, M.C., Spooner-Lane, R., Youssef-Shalala, A., Reeve, J. & Smith, J., K. (2016). Educational psychology (2nd Australian ed.). Wiley.

Recommended references

Egeberg, H. M., McConney, A., & Price, A. (2016). Classroom management and national professional standards for teachers: A review of the literature on theory and practice. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 41(7). pp: 1-18.

Halpern, D. F. (2013). Sex differences in cognitive abilities (4th ed.). Psychology Press.

McInerney, D., & Putwain, D. (2017). Developmental and educational psychology for teachers: An applied approach. Routledge.

Pritchard, A. (2014). Ways of learning: Learning theories and learning styles in the classroom (3rd ed.). Routledge.

Roblyer, M. D. (2016). Integrating educational technology into teaching (7th ed.). Pearson.

Snowman, J., & McCown, R. (2015). Psychology applied to teaching (14th ed.). Cengage Learning.

Verenikina, I., Lysaght, P., & Vialle, W. (2011). Understanding learning and development. David Barlow Publishing.

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