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EDU8712 Contemporary Approaches to Alternative Education

Semester 3, 2019 Online
Short Description: Contemporary Approaches Alt Ed
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts
School or Department : School of Education
Student contribution band : National Priority - Teaching
ASCED code : 070301 - Curriculum Studies
Grading basis : Graded
Version produced : 23 July 2019


Examiner: Margaret Baguley


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 successful completion of this course students should 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.)
Powell, DE 2003, 'Demystifying alternative education: considering what really works', Reclaiming Children and Youth, vol. 12, no. 2, p. 68.
(Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.)
Simpson, C, McBride, R, Spencer, VG, 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, House of Hadrian Press, Gulong, New South Wales.
Whether you are on, or off campus, the USQ Library is an excellent source of information

Student workload expectations

Activity Hours
Directed Study 80.00
Independent Study 85.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
ASSIGN 2: PED IN PRACTICE 60 60 29 Jan 2020

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    Online: 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:
    Students should refer to the Assessment Procedure (point 4.2.4)

  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:
    Not applicable.

  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 at

Other requirements

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