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  • Term Mode
  • Semester 2Campus Attendance


PSYC621 Professional Practice in Psychology AND PSYC630 Psychological Assessment

Unit rationale, description and aim

Identification of learning difficulties and providing intervention early reduces the impact of learning problems and can improve academic outcomes for individuals. Learning difficulties are increasingly prevalent in children and young people, as well as in those with disabilities, and Educational and Developmental Psychologists are in the position to assess the underlying nature of the learning difficulty, and provide recommendations and interventions that are empirically proven to be effective.

This unit will provide knowledge of the range of learning difficulties and exceptionalities, and the process of assessing these through standardised testing. There is a focus on developing assessment and communication skills to provide parents, teachers and individuals with clearly defined learning capabilities and appropriate recommendations for remediation. The unit will cover developmental trends in the acquisition of literacy and numeracy skills, and the theories which attempt to explain difficulties in these areas of learning. Approaches to assessment and intervention will be covered in depth, with an emphasis on empirically validated procedures. The unit will also examine common comorbid conditions and how these affect assessment and intervention. The aim will be to learn how to apply learning theories to the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of specific learning disorders.

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 contemporary theories of learning and development and their relevance to the work of Educational psychologists.GC1, GC7, GC9, GC11
LO2Explain the relevance of theories of learning and development in the diagnosis of exceptionality in learning across the lifespan.GC1, GC2, GC3, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC11, GC12
LO3Demonstrate knowledge of empirically validated assessment procedures and intervention for learning difficulties.GC1, GC2, GC3, GC7, GC8, GC11, GC12


Topic will include: 

  • Contemporary theories of learning 
  • Learning disabilities; structural, functional and information processing approaches 
  • Advanced assessment of educational achievement including recommendations for remediation 
  • Assessment of learning disabilities 
  • Reading decoding 
  • Reading comprehension 
  • Spelling and writing difficulties 
  • Evidence based interventions for reading difficulties 
  • Evidence-based interventions for maths difficulties 
  • Social emotional issues in children with learning difficulties 
  • Predictors of learning difficulties and comorbid conditions 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Students enrolled in postgraduate psychology units are provisionally registered psychologists who are required to deliver psychological services to clients as part of their training. This unit prepares students for working exceptional learners and involves skill development in assessment of learning exceptionalities and evidence based intervention. The unit is delivered in face-to-face mode with lecture and workshop components.  Essential background information will be presented as lecture material. Workshop components are designed to enhance application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation of that information. Learning and teaching strategies include active learning, case-based learning, individual and group activities. This range of strategies will provide students with appropriate access to required knowledge and understanding of unit content and to allow them to meet the aim, learning outcomes and graduate attributes of the unit. Learning and teaching strategies will reflect respect for the student as an independent learner. Students will be expected to take responsibility for their learning and to participate actively within group activities. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment strategy for this unit allows students to demonstrate their acquisition of knowledge, as well as the application of this knowledge. In order to best enable students to demonstrate unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes. Standards based assessment is utilized, consistent with University assessment requirements. The first assessment task will provide the students with the opportunity to demonstrate skills in critical evaluation of existing literature on the development of literacy/numeracy skills. The second assessment task will allow students to demonstrate skills in systematic searching and critically reviewing literature with regard to a particular learning exceptionality. The first two assessments will also develop and assess students’ skills in written communication.  The final oral presentation will allow students to demonstrate clinical skills, through the role playing of a feedback session. This will provide an opportunity to develop and assess communication and intervention skills. Students must pass all assessment tasks in order to pass the unit as it is critical that students demonstrate an appropriate level of knowledge and skills related to evidence based practice to support their work on placements with clients, and a failure in any of these tasks is likely to translate to an unacceptable level of risk to clients. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Written Assignment  

This assessment requires students to demonstrate their awareness and knowledge of contemporary theories/descriptions of the development of literacy (including reading, spelling, comprehension) and numeracy.


LO1, LO2

Written Assignment  

This assignment requires students to demonstrate their in-depth knowledge of one major learning disability. This provides the opportunity to review the relevant literature regarding the nominated learning disability. 


LO1, LO2, LO3

Oral Presentation  

The presentation requires students to conceptualise a case related to a particular learning problem and to consider appropriate assessment and intervention. Students will also further develop their presentation skills. 


LO2, LO3

Representative texts and references

American Psychological Association. (2019). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.). Washington, DC: Author. 

Alloway, T. (2011). Improving working memory: Supporting students’ learning. London, UK: Sage. 

Chinn, S. J. (2011). The trouble with maths: A practical guide to helping learners with numerous difficulties (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge. 

Emerson, J. & Baptie, P. (2nd Ed.). (2013). The dyscalculia assessment. London: Bloomsbury Education 

Farrell, M. (2012). The effective teacher's guide to dyslexia and other learning difficulties (learning disabilities): Practical strategies (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge. 

Flanagan, D. P., Ortiz, S. O., & Alfonso, V. C. (2013). Essentials of cross-battery assessment (3rd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley. 

Kilpatrick, D. A. (2016). Equipped for reading success: A comprehensive, step-by-step program for developing phonemic awareness and fluent word recognition. UK: Silvereye

O’Donnell, A. M. (2012). Educational psychology: Reflection for action (3rd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley.  

Sherrington, T. (2019). Rosenshine’s Principles in Action. Suffolk: John Catt Educational Hollingsworth, J. & Ybarra, S. (2nd Ed.). (2017). Explicit Direct Instruction: The power of the well-crafted, well-taught lesson. US: Sage Publications 

Sumeracki, M., Weistein, Y., & Caviglioli, O. (2018). Understanding how we learn: A visual guide. UK: Taylor & Francis 

Westwood, P. (2011). Commonsense methods for children with special needs (6th ed.). London, UK: Routledge.  

Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Inc. (2015). Protocols for Koorie Education in Primary and Secondary Schools. Melbourne: Author

Wyatt-Smith, C., Elkins, J., & Gunn, S. (2011). Multiple perspectives on difficulties in learning and literacy and numeracy. London, UK: Springer.  

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