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EDU8712 Contemporary Approaches to Alternative Education

Semester 3, 2012 Online Toowoomba
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Education
School or Department : Education
Version produced : 30 December 2013

Contents on this page


Examiner: Margaret Baguley
Moderator: Janice Jones


Student disaffection with formal schooling is increasing worldwide, particularly in those countries where nationally regulated curricula, testing and reporting determine pedagogical practice and define student success. Students who drop out or who fail to succeed in such formal contexts are more likely to be disadvantaged in future, with reduced prospects of social inclusion, employment and psychological and physical wellbeing. Suspensions of non-compliant students or those exhibiting behavioural problems has led to the growth of parallel community-based and capacity building contexts focused upon creating opportunities for inclusive and healing education. Also, mobile learners and students from refugee or economic migrant families raise further challenges for providers of formal education. The raising of the school leaving age requires teachers to explore creative and alternative pathways for students through vocational education and other avenues. This requires new and collaborative ways of working with multi-disciplinary teams of professionals and external providers. Teachers, managers, and community workers striving to adapt existing systems and practices to provide greater inclusivity may embrace critical pedagogies, education for creativity and sustainability, futures education and possibility thinking amongst other strategies. Alternative provision may fall under the philosophies of Steiner-Waldorf, Reggio-Emilia, Montessori, the Free School (Friskole) and Democratic School movements. Homeschooling and online learning also reposition the student, family and the environment as creators of the curriculum in physical or virtual contexts.


The course commences with an exploration of the roots of formal education, and the evolution of curriculum and pedagogy. Participants engage in a critical analysis of the development of curriculum and pedagogy globally, considering the impact of national curricula, testing and reporting; they consider the impact of the raising of school leaving age and the use of flexible learning and vocational and community strategies for re-engaging early leavers, the implementation of superschools, and small school closure worldwide. Participants engage in a critical analysis of the possible reasons for student disaffection in their chosen educational context, discussing and analysing a range of alternative epistemologies and pedagogical practices applicable to that context.


The course objectives define the student learning outcomes for a course. The assessment item(s) that may be used to assess student achievement of an objective are shown in parenthesis. On completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. engage in informed and analytical debate about the purposes and practices of formal education in society (Assignment 1)
  2. explore the merits and use of didactic, authentic, critical and creative pedagogies in traditional and non-traditional contexts; (Assignment 1)
  3. demonstrate a critical understanding of one or more non-mainstream approaches to teaching and learning, e.g. Reggio Emilia, Montessori, Steiner-Waldorf, Free or democratic schooling, homeschooling and vocational and out-of-school experience; (Assignment 2)
  4. research and demonstrate an understanding of the role of critical or creative pedagogies, possibility-thinking and futures thinking within their own context; (Assignment 2)
  5. demonstrate a critical awareness of contemporary pedagogies and implications for practice in a real-world context; (Assignment 2)
  6. demonstrate competence in and appropriate use of language and literacy, including spelling, grammar, punctuation and bibliographic referencing. (All assessments)


Description Weighting(%)
1. The purposes and practices of formal education in society 20.00
2. Didactic, authentic, and critical pedagogies in traditional contexts 15.00
3. Non-traditional approaches, possibility thinking and creative pedagogies 25.00
4. Alternative philosophies and pedagogical practices in education (Reggio Emilia, Montessori, Steiner-Waldorf, Free and democratic schooling, homeschooling, vocational and out-of-school experience) 25.00
5. The arts and technologies for inclusive education 15.00

Text and materials required to be purchased or accessed

ALL textbooks and materials available to be purchased can be sourced from USQ's Online Bookshop (unless otherwise stated). (

Please contact us for alternative purchase options from USQ Bookshop. (

  • There is no prescribed text for this course.

Reference materials

Reference materials are materials that, if accessed by students, may improve their knowledge and understanding of the material in the course and enrich their learning experience.
  • Allam, C 2008, 'Creative activity and its impact on student learning - issues of implementation', Innovations in Education and Teaching International, vol. 45, no. 3, pp. 281-288.
    (Retrieved from Education Research Complete database.)
  • Cranston, N., Reid, A., Keating, J., & Mulford, B 2011, The forces and dynamics shaping education,
  • Powell, D. E 2003, 'Demystifying Alternative Education: Considering What Really Works', Reclaiming Children & Youth, vol. 12, no. 2, p. 68.
    (Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.)
  • Simpson, C., McBride, R., Spencer, V. G., Lowdermilk, J., & Lynch, S 2009, 'Assistive technology', supporting learners in inclusive classrooms, vol. 45, no. 4,
  • Sutherland, R 2006, Why do you want to homeschool? The Essential Australian Guide, Gulong, NSW: House of Hadrian Press.
  • Wexler, A 2004, 'A theory for living', walking with Reggio Emilia, vol. 57, no. 6, pp. 13-19.
  • Whether you are on, or off campus, the USQ Library is an excellent source of information

Student workload requirements

Activity Hours
Directed Study 82.00
Independent Study 83.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
ASSIGN 2: PED IN PRACTICE 60 60 23 Jan 2013

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    WEB There are no attendance requirements for this course. However, it is the students' responsibility to participate appropriately in all activities including discussion fora scheduled for them, and to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration.

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    To satisfactorily complete an individual assessment item a student must achieve at least 50% of the marks.

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    If students submit assignments after the due date without (prior) approval of the examiner then a penalty of 5% of the total marks gained by the student for the assignment may apply for each working day late up to ten working days at which time a mark of zero may be recorded. No assignments will be accepted after model answers have been posted.

  4. Requirements for student to be awarded a passing grade in the course:
    To be assured of receiving a passing grade a student must achieve at least 50% of the total weighted marks available for the course.

  5. Method used to combine assessment results to attain final grade:
    The final grades for students will be assigned on the basis of the aggregate of the weighted marks obtained for each of the summative assessment items in the course.

  6. Examination information:
    There is no examination in this course.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    As there is no examinations in this course, there will be no deferred or supplementary examinations

  8. University Student Policies:
    Students should read the USQ policies: Definitions, Assessment and Student Academic Misconduct to avoid actions which might contravene University policies and practices. These policies can be found at

Assessment notes

  1. APA style is the referencing system required in this course. Students should use APA style in their assignments to format details of the information sources they have cited in their work. The APA style to be used is defined by the USQ Library's referencing guide.

Other requirements

  1. Students will require access to e-mail and have Internet access to UConnect for this course.