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ECHE3100 – Play-based Curriculum: Discovery and Creativity in Outdoor Environments

2020 – Session 1, Infrequent attendance, North Ryde

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, any references to assessment tasks and on-campus delivery may no longer be up-to-date on this page.

Students should consult iLearn for revised unit information.

Find out more about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and potential impacts on staff and students

General Information

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Unit convenor and teaching staff Unit convenor and teaching staff Unit Convenor and Lecturer
Helen Little
Contact via via iLearn Dialogue
Alison Frost
Contact via via iLearn dialogue
Jennifer Burgess
Contact via via iLearn dialogue
Credit points Credit points
Prerequisites Prerequisites
130cp at 1000 level or above including (ECH113 or ECHE1130 or ABEC120) and (ECH130 or ECHE1300)
Corequisites Corequisites
Co-badged status Co-badged status
Unit description Unit description
This unit examines the role of outdoor environments in providing opportunities for young children to engage in discovery and creative play and physical activity. The unit builds on students' foundational understanding of play-based pedagogies to enhance their capacity to recognise, evaluate and design play-based environments and experiences that promote learning for children from birth to school age. The unit explores inter-relationships between affordances in the outdoor environment, children's play behaviours and their learning, with a particular emphasis on relationship-based learning, scientific inquiry, problem-solving and physical activity. The unit requires students to engage critically with a range of relevant contemporary issues which have the potential to impact on children's opportunities for learning and development. Students also consider issues of inclusive practice for children with different educational and developmental capabilities and with different social and cultural backgrounds.

Important Academic Dates

Information about important academic dates including deadlines for withdrawing from units are available at https://students.mq.edu.au/important-dates

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:

  • ULO1: Articulate an understanding of the major theoretical developments in outdoor learning environments.
  • ULO2: Critically reflect on relevant contemporary societal issues and how these may impact on children's learning opportunities.
  • ULO3: Draw on contemporary theoretical and curriculum approaches to critically evaluate outdoor environments.
  • ULO4: Design rich, integrated and inclusive outdoor play experiences for children aged birth to five.
  • ULO5: Understand how outdoor environments can foster holistic learning outcomes as specified in the Early Years Learning Framework.
  • ULO6: Articulate a range of intentional teaching strategies which can enhance children's learning in outdoor environments.
  • ULO7: Consider social, cultural and educational diversity when planning for and evaluating outdoor learning environments for children aged birth to five years.

Assessment Tasks

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

Assessment details are no longer provided here as a result of changes due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Students should consult iLearn for revised unit information.

Find out more about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and potential impacts on staff and students

General Assessment Information

Please refer to iLearn for more detailed information about assessment tasks

Assessment Presentation and Submission Guidelines

Please follow these guidelines when you submit each assignment:

  • Allow a left and right-hand margin of at least 2cm in all assignments.
  • Please type all assignments using 12-point font and 1.5 spacing.
  • All assessments must be submitted through Turnitin in .doc or .pdf format
  • It is the responsibility of the student to ensure that all assessments are successfully submitted through Turnitin.
  • Assignment cover sheets are NOT required.


Draft Submissions & Turnitin Originality Reports

  • Students may use Turnitin’s Originality Report as a learning tool to improve their academic writing if this option is made available in the unit.
  • Students are strongly encouraged to upload a draft copy of each assessment to Turnitin at least one week prior to the due date to obtain an Originality Report.
  • The Originality Report provides students with a similarity index that may indicate if plagiarism has occurred. Students will be able to make amendments to their drafts prior to their final submission on the due date.
  • Generally, one Originality Report is generated every 24 hours up to the due date.

Please note:

  • Students should regularly save a copy of all assignments before submission,
  • Students are responsible for checking that their submission has been successful and has been submitted by the due date and time.

Assignment extensions and late penalties

  • In general, there should be no need for extensions except through illness or misadventure that would be categorised as serious and unavoidable disruption according to the University definition of same, see:  https://students.mq.edu.au/study/my-study-program/special-consideration
  • Applications for extensions must be made via AskMQ according to the Special Consideration policy. Extensions can only be granted if they meet the Special Considerations policy and are submitted via https://ask.mq.edu.au/. This will ensure consistency in the consideration of such requests is maintained.
  • Late submissions without extension will receive a penalty of 5% reduction of the total possible mark for each day late (including weekends and public holidays). You are reminded that submitting even 1 day late could be the difference between passing and failing a unit. Late penalties are applied by unit convenors or their delegates after tasks are assessed.
  • No assessable work will be accepted after the return/release of marked work on the same topic. If a student is still permitted to submit on the basis of unavoidable disruption, an alternative topic may be set.
  • Students should keep an electronic file of all assessments. Claims regarding "lost" assessments cannot be made if the file cannot be produced. It is also advisable to keep an electronic file of all drafts and the final submission on a USB untouched/unopened after submission. This can be used to demonstrate easily that the assessment has not been amended after the submission date.


Requesting a re-assessment of an assignment

If you have evidence that your task has been incorrectly assessed against the grade descriptors you can request a re-mark. To request a re-mark you need to contact the unit convenor within 7 days of the date of return of the assignment and provide a detailed assessment of your script against the task criteria. Evidence from your assignment must be provided to support your judgements.

Note: Failed assessments cannot be re-marked as they are all double-marked as a part of the moderation process.

Please note: The outcome of a re-mark may be a higher/lower or unchanged grade. Grades are standards referenced and effort is NOT a criterion.


University policy on grading

Criteria for awarding grades for assessment tasks

Assignments will be awarded grades ranging from HD to F according to guidelines set out in the University's Grading Policy. The following descriptive criteria are included for your information.

Descriptive Criteria for awarding grades in the unit

In order to meet the unit outcomes and successfully pass this unit, students must make a genuine attempt at all assessment tasks.  Where this requirement is not met you will be awarded an FA grade with a maximum mark of 45.

Students will be awarded grades ranging from HD to F according to guidelines set out in the assessment policy: https://staff.mq.edu.au/work/strategy-planning-and-governance/university-policies-and-procedures/policies/assessment-in-effect-from-session-2-2016

In order to ensure clear distinctions between grades, final marks of 49, 64, 74 and 84 will not be used. The following generic grade descriptors provide university-wide standards for awarding final grades.





(High Distinction)

Provides consistent evidence of deep and critical understanding in relation to the learning outcomes. There is substantial originality and insight in identifying, generating and communicating competing arguments, perspectives or problem solving approaches; critical evaluation of problems, their solutions and their implications; creativity in application as appropriate to the discipline.



Provides evidence of integration and evaluation of critical ideas, principles and theories, distinctive insight and ability in applying relevant skills and concepts in relation to learning outcomes. There is demonstration of frequent originality in defining and analysing issues or problems and providing solutions; and the use of means of communication appropriate to the discipline and the audience.



Provides evidence of learning that goes beyond replication of content knowledge or skills relevant to the learning outcomes. There is demonstration of substantial understanding of fundamental concepts in the field of study and the ability to apply these concepts in a variety of contexts; convincing argumentation with appropriate coherent justification; communication of ideas fluently and clearly in terms of the conventions of the discipline.



Provides sufficient evidence of the achievement of learning outcomes. There is demonstration of understanding and application of fundamental concepts of the field of study; routine argumentation with acceptable justification; communication of information and ideas adequately in terms of the conventions of the discipline. The learning attainment is considered satisfactory or adequate or competent or capable in relation to the specified outcomes



Does not provide evidence of attainment of learning outcomes. There is missing or partial or superficial or faulty understanding and application of the fundamental concepts in the field of study; missing, undeveloped, inappropriate or confusing argumentation; incomplete, confusing or lacking communication of ideas in ways that give little attention to the conventions of the discipline.

Note: If you fail a unit with a professional experience component the fail grade will be on your transcript irrespective of the timing of the placement.



Results shown in iLearn, or released directly by your Unit Convenor, are not confirmed as they are subject to final approval by the University. Once approved, final results will be sent to your student email address and will be made available in eStudent. For more information visit ask.mq.edu.au.


Withdrawing from this UG Unit

If you are considering withdrawing from this unit, please seek academic advice via https://ask.mq.edu.au before doing so as this unit may be a co-requisite or prerequisite for units in the following sessions and may impact on your progression through the degree.



Delivery and Resources

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

Any references to on-campus delivery below may no longer be relevant due to COVID-19.

Please check here for updated delivery information: https://ask.mq.edu.au/account/pub/display/unit_status

There is an expectation that you complete the scholarly reading in this unit. It is an integral part of your study of ECHE3100.

Required and recommended texts

Little, H., Elliott, S., & Wyver, S. (2017). Outdoor learning environments: Spaces for exploration, discovery and risk-taking in the early years. Sydney: Allen & Unwin.

In addition to chapters from the text, there are additional weekly readings (available through library/Leganto unit readings) - refer to iLearn for details.


Unit Structure

The unit comprises at least 1 one-hour online lecture each week (note: there are no lectures in Weeks 9-11 as many students are on prac) and a two full-day on campus sessions . In some weeks there is an additional online lecture which students are also expected to listen to in preparation for the on campus days. In the on campus day tutorials students will discuss issues and questions arising from the lectures and prescribed readings. They are expected to base their arguments/discussions on evidence from published research and other relevant material. Students are required to participate in small group activities and whole class discussion, to read the weekly material in advance, and to complete brief tasks either as individuals or in pairs. The weekly program for the course with the accompanying readings/ preparation is available on the following pages and on the unit iLearn site.


Weekly lectures are available on the web through ECHO360. PowerPoint slides are available on iLearn in advance of the weekly lecture.

Attendance Requirements

 Attendance at on campus days for external students is expected. There will be a supporting website for the unit providing information about additional readings, links and materials. Lectures will also be available through Echo in iLearn from the following website link: http://ilearn.mq.edu.au

On campus sessions

The on campus sessions for this year are on:

Day 1: Tuesday 21 April  (9:00-5:00)

Day 2: Wednesday 22 April   (9:00-5:00)

Further specific details and any updates about times and locations will be posted on iLearn as an Announcement during the first half of the semester.


Information about the unit iLearn site  

This unit has a full web presence through iLearn

Students will need regular access to a computer and the internet to complete this unit.

Weekly access to iLearn is compulsory for all students. Important assessment information will be posted there, as will other relevant unit notices and materials, including the schedule of weekly lectures and readings and full details of assessment tasks.

Various activities and materials for discussion and critical reflection are included and external students especially are encouraged to use this web component. Electronic links and suggested references will be included in the Resources section. Please check the iLearn unit regularly.

Access and technical assistance

Information for students about access to the online component of this unit is available at ilearn.mq.edu.au/login/MQ/. You will need to enter your student username and password.

Please do NOT contact the Unit Convenor regarding iLearn technical help.

No extensions will be given for any technical issues. Allow enough time for your submissions.

Assistance is available from IT Helpdesk ph: 1800 67 4357, or log a request at help.mq.edu.au. OneHelp is the online IT support service for both students and staff.


This unit requires students to use several ICT and software skills:

  • Internet access: The iLearn site contains materials for this unit; it is also required for the online submission of all Assessment Tasks, and for the use of Turnitin submission for ALL tasks. 
  • Word processing, visual representations, and document formatting: You are required to use an appropriate form of software to present your assignments.
  • Uploading of assessment tasks to iLearn.


Support resources

Macquarie University has a range of services for students. If you are struggling with any aspect of academic life or career trajectory and skills, we have great supports within the university. Please refer to the comprehensive list of support services here.

Unit Schedule

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

The unit schedule/topics and any references to on-campus delivery below may no longer be relevant due to COVID-19. Please consult iLearn for latest details, and check here for updated delivery information: https://ask.mq.edu.au/account/pub/display/unit_status









Module 1:

Approaches to outdoor learning


26 Feb



Contemporary issues

Helen Little



4 Mar



Historical, contemporary and theoretical approaches to outdoor learning environments

Helen Little


Planning effective outdoor environments

Helen Little


11 Mar



The regulatory context of outdoor learning environments

Helen Little


Module 2: Outdoor environments as pedagogical spaces



 Playing outside

Helen Little


18 Mar



Outdoor environments for infants and toddlers

Sheila Degotardi


Managing risk in play


Helen Little



25 Mar



Outdoor environments for pre-schoolers


Luke Touhill


Natural playspaces

Helen Little


1 April


Sustainable practice and environmental responsibility

Helen Little


8 Apr



Thinking outdoors

Helen Little 


29 Apr



Who can play? Supporting participation and inclusion

Kathy Cologon




6 May

No lecture or tutorials due to ECHP4250 prac



13 May

No lecture or tutorials due to ECHP4250 prac


20 May

No lecture or tutorials due to ECHP4250/ECHP3270 prac


27 May


Physically active play

Helen Little



Creative play


Helen Little


3 June


Environments beyond the gate

Helen Little



Policies and Procedures

Macquarie University policies and procedures are accessible from Policy Central (https://staff.mq.edu.au/work/strategy-planning-and-governance/university-policies-and-procedures/policy-central). Students should be aware of the following policies in particular with regard to Learning and Teaching:

Students seeking more policy resources can visit the Student Policy Gateway (https://students.mq.edu.au/support/study/student-policy-gateway). It is your one-stop-shop for the key policies you need to know about throughout your undergraduate student journey.

If you would like to see all the policies relevant to Learning and Teaching visit Policy Central (https://staff.mq.edu.au/work/strategy-planning-and-governance/university-policies-and-procedures/policy-central).

Student Code of Conduct

Macquarie University students have a responsibility to be familiar with the Student Code of Conduct: https://students.mq.edu.au/study/getting-started/student-conduct​


Results published on platform other than eStudent, (eg. iLearn, Coursera etc.) or released directly by your Unit Convenor, are not confirmed as they are subject to final approval by the University. Once approved, final results will be sent to your student email address and will be made available in eStudent. For more information visit ask.mq.edu.au or if you are a Global MBA student contact globalmba.support@mq.edu.au


Department Procedures

In addition, the following policies and procedures of the Department of Educational Studies are applicable in this unit.

Attendance for undergraduate units

Activities completed during on campus days (external) are essential for building the core knowledge and/or skills required to demonstrate the learning outcomes of this unit and to meet the AITSL Graduate Teacher Standards and/or ACECQA requirements.

Attendance at all on campus days is expected and the roll will be taken.

Students are required to attend the tutorial in which they are enrolled. Any changes to tutorial enrolments must be completed officially through e-student. Please do not contact the unit convenor requesting a change.

External Students

  1. The on-campus sessions on 21 and 22 April are essential to student engagement and learning, and attendance on all days is expected. Failure to attend, or to have an approved Special Consideration, may result in a Fail grade for the unit. Please see attendance requirements in this unit guide. 
  2. Prior to the on-campus sessions, you should have read the prescribed readings and listened to the lectures. Summarise the main points, and make a note of the key terms and definitions. Prepare any discussion questions of your own that you wish to share.
  3. Please make effective use of the online component of the unit and access iLearn regularly. Keep up to date with listening to the lectures on a weekly basis.


Unit Expectations

  • Students are expected to read weekly readings before completing tasks and attending tutorials
  • Students are expected to listen/attend weekly lectures before completing tasks and attending tutorials
  • Students are required to make a genuine attempt at all assessment tasks to pass the unit.

Note: It is not the responsibility of unit staff to contact students who have failed to submit assignments.  If you have any missing items of assessment, it is your responsibility to make contact with the unit convenor.


In a 10 credit-point unit you should expect to commit nine (9) hours of your time per week to your studies.


Electronic Communication

It is the student’s responsibility to check all electronic communication on a regular weekly basis.  Communication may occur via:

  • Official MQ Student Email Address [Note: Please do not email staff from any email account other than your uni email account.]
  • The Dialogue function on iLearn
  • Other iLearn communication functions


Student Support

Macquarie University provides a range of support services for students. For details, visit http://students.mq.edu.au/support/

Learning Skills

Learning Skills (mq.edu.au/learningskills) provides academic writing resources and study strategies to help you improve your marks and take control of your study.

The Library provides online and face to face support to help you find and use relevant information resources. 

Student Enquiry Service

For all student enquiries, visit Student Connect at ask.mq.edu.au

If you are a Global MBA student contact globalmba.support@mq.edu.au

Equity Support

Students with a disability are encouraged to contact the Disability Service who can provide appropriate help with any issues that arise during their studies.

IT Help

For help with University computer systems and technology, visit http://www.mq.edu.au/about_us/offices_and_units/information_technology/help/

When using the University's IT, you must adhere to the Acceptable Use of IT Resources Policy. The policy applies to all who connect to the MQ network including students.