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EDRE526 Introducing Religious Education

Unit rationale, description and aim

In order to plan and deliver lessons that promote learner engagement and enhance student learning, intending RE teachers need a knowledge and understanding of their local diocesan curriculum, along with theoretical frameworks and pedagogical approaches that are emblematic of teaching in the RE classroom. 

Intending teachers of RE will study the relevant RE curriculum, including general capabilities, cross-curriculum priorities and other allied materials. They will critique their prior knowledge and experience in the field and how these connect with the scope of the curriculum, identifying opportunities, challenges and responsibilities of RE teaching. Intending teachers of RE will explore theoretical frameworks associated with teaching and learning in RE. They will learn evidence-based approaches to plan for effective teaching and learning, including embedded literacy and numeracy, and the use of digital technologies. They will learn approaches for engaging learners and to meet the learning needs of diverse students. They will learn to compose good questions, to assemble productive assessment tasks and develop skills to shape the dialogic talk of the classroom. Focussing on the detailed planning of a short series of lessons, intending teachers of RE will learn to structure lesson sequences within units of work in order to demonstrate a knowledge of curriculum and learning theory. They will engage in microteaching to practice engaging students and guiding the classroom discourse.  

The aim of this unit is for the intending teacher of RE to develop their pedagogical content knowledge through becoming familiar with the knowledge, understanding and skills necessary for teaching Religious Education at a junior secondary or primary/early childhood level. 

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
LO1Plan and devise a structured learning program in RE, showing a mastery of the concepts, substance and structure of the relevant RE curriculum and assessment principles (APST 2.1, 2.3, 5.1, 5.2)GC1, GC2, GC3, GC7, GC8, GC11
LO2Critically analyse and develop a range of approaches to planning and delivering engaging and purposeful teaching/learning sequences for RE and including the selection of appropriate resources, informed by and understanding of how students learn in RE (APST 1.2, 1.4, 2.1, 2.2, 2.5, 2.6, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 4.1, 4.2, 4.5)GC1, GC2, GC3, GC7, GC10, GC11
LO3Describe, design and evaluate a variety of pedagogical approaches in RE which allow the specific learning strengths and needs of students to be met (APST 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 2.4, 3.1, 3.3, 4.1, 4.3)GC1, GC2, GC3, GC5, GC7, GC11
LO4Identify and explain the use of Religious Education resources to provide directions, explanations and support student learning (APST 1.3, 2.1, 2.4, 3.3, 3.5, 4.1, 5.2)GC2, GC3, GC5, GC7, GC9, GC11
LO5Synthesise and critically reflect upon the professional responsibilities of the Religious Education teacher, including the provision of a safe and supportive learning environment (APST 1.3, 1.5, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.6, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 4.3, 4.5, 5.1, 6.1, 6.2, 6.3, 6.4, 7.1, 7.2, 7.4)GC2, GC3, GC7, GC11


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

1.2 - Understand how students learn.

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

1.3 - Students with diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds.

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

1.4 - Strategies for teaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

Demonstrate broad knowledge and understanding of the impact of culture, cultural identity and linguistic background on the education of students from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds.

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

Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of strategies for differentiating teaching to meet the specific learning needs of students across the full range of abilities. 

2.1 - Content and teaching strategies of the teaching area

Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the concepts, substance and structure of the content and teaching strategies of the teaching area.

2.2 - Content selection and organisation

Organise content into an effective learning and teaching sequence.

2.3 - Curriculum, assessment and reporting

Use curriculum, assessment and reporting knowledge to design learning sequences and lesson plans.

2.4 - Understand and respect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to promote reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians

Demonstrate broad knowledge of, understanding of, and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and languages.

2.5 - Literacy and numeracy strategies

Know and understand literacy and numeracy teaching strategies and their application in teaching areas.

2.6 - Information and Communication Technology (ICT)

Implement teaching strategies for using ICT to expand curriculum learning opportunities for students.

3.1 - Establish challenging learning goals

Set learning goals that provide achievable challenges for students of varying abilities and characteristics.

3.2 - Plan, structure and sequence learning programs

Plan lesson sequences using knowledge of student learning, content and effective teaching strategies.

3.3 - Use teaching strategies

Include a range of teaching strategies.

3.4 - Select and use resources

Demonstrate knowledge of a range of resources, including ICT, that engage students in their learning.

3.5 - Use effective classroom communication

Demonstrate a range of verbal and non-verbal communication strategies to support student engagement.

4.1 - Support student participation

Identify strategies to support inclusive student participation and engagement in classroom activities.

4.2 - Manage classroom activities

Demonstrate the capacity to organise classroom activities and provide clear directions.

4.3 - Manage challenging behaviour

Demonstrate knowledge of practical approaches to manage challenging behaviour.

4.5 - Use ICT safely, responsibly and ethically

Demonstrate an understanding of the relevant issues and the strategies available to support the safe, responsible and ethical use of ICT in learning and teaching.

5.1 - Assess student learning

Demonstrate understanding of assessment strategies, including informal and formal, diagnostic, formative and summative approaches to assess student learning.

5.2 - Provide feedback to students on their learning

Demonstrate an understanding of the purpose of providing timely and appropriate feedback to students about their learning.

6.1 - Identify and plan professional learning needs

Demonstrate an understanding of the role of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers in identifying professional learning needs.

6.2 - Engage in professional learning and improve practice

Understand the relevant and appropriate sources of professional learning for teachers.

6.3 - Engage with colleagues and improve practice

Seek and apply constructive feedback from supervisors and teachers to improve teaching practices.

6.4 - Apply professional learning and improve student learning

Demonstrate an understanding of the rationale for continued professional learning and the implications for improved student learnings. 

7.1 - Engage professionally with colleagues, parents/carers and the community

Understand and apply the key principles described in codes of ethics and conduct for the teaching profession.

7.2 - Comply with legislative, administrative and organisational requirements

Understand the relevant legislative, administrative and organisational policies and processes required for teachers according to school stage.

7.4 - Engage with professional teaching networks and broader communities

Understand the role of external professionals and community representatives in broadening teachers’ professional knowledge and practice.


Topics will include: 

  1. Church documents, local religious education documents and Religious Education scholarship. 
  2. Content in local diocesan documents, organised into an effective learning and teaching sequence. 
  3. Pedagogical approaches, strategies and resources relevant to religious education; 
  4. Planning for effective teaching and learning in RE
  5. Differentiated teaching in RE, cognisant of the range of students’ knowledge and experience of the Catholic tradition
  6. Needs of learners from diverse cognitive, physical, social, cultural backgrounds 
  7. Needs of learners from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds 
  8. Incorporating literacy and numeracy in RE 
  9. Digital technologies for teaching/learning in RE  
  10. Conversational, questioning and scaffolding techniques to shape dialogic classroom talk in RE  
  11. The role of assessment, reporting and evaluation in religious education. 
  12. Professional responsibilities and relationships 
  13. Professional associations and continued professional learning

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit applies a social constructivist approach to develop the intending RE teacher’s understanding of effective pedagogies through active engagement and collaborative learning. It is designed to build the intending RE teacher’s understanding of teaching strategies through critical reading, lecturer modelling, discussion, and practice in tutorials. The intending RE teacher’s skills of professional communication and ability to work collaboratively will be practised through group activities. Her/his teaching skills of planning and assessing, and his/her ability to locate and synthesise information, will be developed through designing RE lessons. The intending RE teacher will continue to gather and reflect upon evidence of attainment of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers: Graduate. 

Students are introduced to the various influences that contribute to the development of Religious Education curriculum. By engaging in the learning activities provided in the unit, students develop and deepen their understanding of the ways in which Church documents inform diocesan authorities about the purpose of Religious Education from the perspective of the Magisterium. In turn, local curriculum documents then inform teachers about their responsibilities based on the way in which the particular diocese has contextualised its understanding of Church teaching. To the extent that it is practicable, students are provided with opportunities to investigate their local curriculum documents in Religious Education in relation to a number of key topics that are common across Australia. Issues relating to assessment, reporting and evaluation are also considered. On the basis of the learning experiences, students are required to construct pedagogically appropriate classroom teaching and learning strategies for Religious Education based on previously acquired theological understandings of the essential precepts of Church teaching. The unit is constructed to consider students’ range of knowledge and experience in teaching RE and to build their capacity to do so. The unit is constructively aligned to build knowledge and integrate skills from general principles to specific outcomes that apply to classroom teaching of Religious Education. 

The teaching and learning strategy described above will use an appropriate selection of approaches, including, for example: 

  • Weekly face-to-face lectures and / or online lectures (synchronous and asynchronous)  
  • Hands-on tutorials and discussions that promote peer learning 
  • Microteaching opportunities 
  • Self-directed reading and research 
  • Collaborative learning opportunities 

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

Attendance Mode

In a weekly attendance mode, students require face-to-face attendance in specific physical location/s. Students will have face-to-face interactions with lecturer(s) to further their achievement of the learning outcomes.

Intensive Mode

In an intensive mode, students require face-to-face attendance in 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.

ACU Online

This unit will be delivered in online mode using an active learning approach to support students in the exploration of knowledge essential to the discipline. Students are provided with choice and variety in how they learn. Students are encouraged to contribute to asynchronous weekly discussions. Active learning opportunities provide students with opportunities to practice and apply their learning in situations similar to their future professions. Activities encourage students to bring their own examples to demonstrate understanding and application.

Online Mode

This unit may be offered via online unscheduled learning activities (i.e. learning activities are accessible anytime, anywhere) or scheduled learning activities (i.e. facilitated online seminars to enable online interaction).

In the synchronous seminar classes students engage and participate in the construction and synthesis of knowledge, while developing their knowledge of religious education. In the asynchronous mode, students are required to participate in a series of online interactive workshops which include activities, knowledge checks, discussion and interactive sessions. This approach allows flexibility for students and facilitates learning and participation for students with a preference for virtual learning. Students will be expected to take responsibility for their learning and to participate actively in the online environment.  

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment tasks and their weightings are designed so that the students can progressively achieve the course learning outcomes and the professional standards. The Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment units in this course focus on intending teachers of RE acquiring content knowledge and developing the skills to assimilate conceptual knowledge in order for that knowledge to inform skills that will be applied in practice. 

The two assessment tasks are sequenced to allow feedback and progressive development. Through completing Task 1, the intending RE teacher will analyse and reflect on his/her prior knowledge of the RE curriculum and perform a skills audit to develop a professional learning plan. Through completing Task 2, the intending RE teacher will demonstrate an understanding of how to sequence appropriate learning experiences in an RE lesson. These tasks reflect ‘real world’ school contexts and teaching responsibilities, thereby preparing the RE teacher for one’s role. 

In order to pass this unit, intending teachers of RE are required to demonstrate achievement of learning outcomes by submitting all assessment tasks, obtaining a combined score of at least 50 per cent. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Capabilities

Assessment Task 1: Analysis of the Curriculum: analysis, skills audit and professional learning plan 

Report: Analysis of a local religious education document to which the student has access in light of Church documentation and contemporary Religious Education theory.  

In the context of this analysis, position yourself as an RE teacher within contemporary Australian society and then describe the unique professional position that an RE teacher has in a school. 


LO2, LO3, LO5GC1, GC2, GC3, GC5, GC7, GC10, GC11

Assessment Task 2 Lesson Planning 

Develop a teaching and learning plan outlining a sequence of learning experiences in RE 


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4GC1, GC2, GC3, GC5, GC7, GC8, GC10, GC11

Representative texts and references

Australian Curriculum 

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) 

Barnes. (2020). Crisis, controversy and the future of religious education. Routledge/Taylor & Francis.

Buchanan, M.T., & Gellel, A. (2015). Global perspectives on Catholic religious education in schools. Cham: Springer. 

Buchanan, M.T., & Gellel, A. (2019). Global perspectives on Catholic religious education in schools. Volume II, Learning and leading in a pluralist world (1st ed. 2019. ed.). Gateway East, Singapore: Springer. 

Gleeson, J., & Goldburg, P. (2020). Faith-based Identity and Curriculum in Catholic Schools: Curriculum Perspectives: Vol. First edition. Routledge.

Groome, T. (2021). What makes Education Catholic: Spiritual Foundations. Maryknoll: NY: Orbis.

Hall, D., Sultmann, W. & Townend, G. (2018). Constants in context: Conciliar and post-conciliar documents on the Catholic school and their implications for mission. La Salle Academy Publications.

Hattie, J., & Zierer, K. (2018). 10 mindframes for visible learning: Teaching for success. Routledge.

Jackson, R. (2012). Religion, education, dialogue and conflict: Perspectives on religious education research. London: Routledge. 

Lovat, T. (2019). The Art and Heart of Good Teaching Values as the Pedagogy. Springer.

Moran, G. (2016). Missed opportunities: Rethinking Catholic tradition. Bloomington: iUniverse. 

National Catholic Education Commission. (2018). Framing Paper: Religious Education in Australian Catholic Schools. National Catholic Education Commission. 

Pollefeyt, D., & Bouwens, J. (2014). Identity in dialogue: Assessing and enhancing Catholic school identity: Research methodology and research results in Catholic schools in Victoria, Australia (Christian religious education and school identity; v. 1). Zurich: Verlag. 

Pollefeyt. (2020). Hermeneutical learning in religious education. Journal of Religious Education, 68(1), 1–11.

Rossiter, G. (2018). Life to the full: The changing landscape of contemporary spirituality - implications for Catholic school Religious Education. Kensington NSW: ASMRE 

Ryan, M. (2014). Religious Education in Catholic Schools: An Introduction for Australian Students (Revised Edition). Brisbane: Lumino Press. 

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