> Home > Domains > The Humanities – Economics > Stages of Learning

Stages of Learning in The Humanities - Economics

The VELS take account of the developmental stages of learning young people experience at school. While student learning is a continuum and different students develop at different rates, they broadly progress through three stages of learning. General statements about characteristics of learners in these three stages are available at Stages of learning.

The following statements describe ways in which these characteristics relate to learning experiences and standards in each of the three stages of learning in the Economics domain.

Across the stages of learning students are introduced to key economic themes and then revisit these key themes in order to embed understandings and build their economic, consumer and financial literacies. Students develop economic knowledge and understandings and the ability to use economic reasoning and interpretation skills and in doing so, recognise the importance of these knowledge, skills and behaviours in ensuring Australia’s future economic growth, development and living standards.

Years Prep to 4 – Laying the foundations

In Years Prep to 4, learning about economics takes place through the general Humanities domain. Students are introduced to economic knowledge and the nature of economic thinking by making observations about their world and their interactions with it. They explore how their needs (for example, food, clothing, shelter) and wants (for example, a skateboard, an electronic game) are met. They also identify resources (land, minerals, labour, machinery) used at home, at school and in the local community and describe how some of these resources are used to meet particular needs. They begin to investigate ways in which resources are allocated within their family, school and local community. They begin to learn how and why resources are used and managed, reflecting the interdependence of communities and the need for sustainability.

In these years, students begin to compare different types of work and enterprise in their local community and identify the specific jobs and the variety of tasks involved in different workplaces such as their school. They use this knowledge to describe the nature of work and relate it to contemporary issues, such as the impact of technological change.

They begin to develop an economic vocabulary to discuss, for example, needs, wants, markets, goods, services, money, banking, choice, buying, selling, work and trade. They use this vocabulary to describe and explain their observations and to frame questions relating to economic decisions. They are introduced to the links between the economy, society and environment.

Years 5 to 8 – Building breadth and depth

In Years 5 to 8 students develop further knowledge of economic concepts learned in Years Prep to Year 4. The relevance of economics is illustrated and reinforced through examples drawn from personal, local and national experience. Students are introduced to relevant economic theories, models and systems such as the market system and the ways these are used to help explain what happens and why and they continue to expand their economic vocabulary. They explain how economic decision-making affects the use of resources and describe the relationship between spending and resource use. They analyse the nature and meaning of work, appreciating the difference between paid and unpaid work and its relationship to other activities in people’s lives such as leisure. They examine views about different types of work and enterprise and identify particular skills in a range of jobs and examine how they are acquired.

Students learn to use and practise rational, objective decision making by applying economic reasoning and cost benefit analysis to solve problems which assist them in understanding the way resources are allocated both personally and in the economy. They develop an ability to identify, collect and process economic data from a range of sources, including electronic media and begin to use the inquiry process to plan economics investigations, analyse data and form conclusions supported by evidence. Students begin to develop skills to contest ideas, to debate and to use evidence to form and express opinions on economic issues that interest and/or impact on them personally and on society.

Years 9 to 10 – Developing pathways

In Years 9 to 10, students develop confidence in their ability to identify economic problems, alternatives, costs, and benefits; analyse the incentives at work in economic situations; examine the consequences of changes in economic conditions and public policies; collect and organise economic evidence; and weigh costs against benefits. They are progressively more independent learners and able to systematically plan their own investigations and use the skills of posing questions, testing hypotheses, collecting data, analysis, synthesis, critical thinking, decision making and forming conclusions supported by evidence.

Students interpret media reports about current economic conditions locally, nationally and globally and explain how these conditions can influence decisions made by consumers, producers and government policy makers. Predictions about the economic consequences of proposed government policies are developed and informed opinions are made concerning alternative public policy proposals. Students develop an ability to predict the impact of economic policies on themselves and others.

Students explore what it means to be an ethical producer and consumer and the role of values in economic decision making of producers and consumers. They examine ways political and financial systems and institutions impact on economic activity and the welfare of citizens. Students develop an understanding of how the economy is managed and are aware that economic policies advanced by governments will have an impact on them personally and on their fellow citizens. Students investigate economic disparity across the globe and students seek reasons for why this might be so and what could be done to make resource distribution more equitable amongst nations. They recognise the importance of economically literate citizens to Australia’s future economic growth and development.

Students develop the ability to use data to analyse economic performance of business and economies. Students become more confident in using economic reasoning, including cost/benefit analysis, to solve problems which assist them in making meaning about the economy, society and environment and to clarify and justify values and attitudes about issues affecting the economy, society and environment.

Students identify different ways to manage personal resources by referring to their own and others’ experiences of resource management. They examine factors that influence personal financial well-being and are building their own capacity in relation to financial literacy. They develop the ability to apply knowledge and skills to their personal financial circumstances.

Students learn about the relationship between education, training and work options. They develop and apply appropriate knowledge, skills and behaviours for transition to employment and/or further education and training. They learn about enterprise skills and attributes and how enterprise and innovation affect the economy, society and environment.

Examples across the Stages of learning

The Economics standards have been written around the idea of the curriculum as a spiral rather than lineal progression. This means that key concepts and themes associated with resource allocation and ecological sustainability, consumer and financial literacy, enterprise, innovation and work-related education are examined and reviewed over a range of levels so that the knowledge, skills and behaviours become embedded across the stages of learning. See the table below for some examples.


Prep to Year 4 Economics Standards Level 4 Economics Standards Level 5 Economics Standards Level 6

Identify and investigate issues related to resource allocation, ecological sustainability and economic activities

Students describe a variety of economic activities, in particular those in which they are involved such as shopping, making a sandwich, tending a garden, keeping a pet

Students understand that resources are limited in relation to unlimited wants and that people make choices because they can't have everything they want. Students are able to identify some choices they have made and explain why they had to make a choice.

Students distinguish between the use, ownership and management of resources in personal, business and community contexts and appreciate that economic choices involve trade-offs that have both immediate and future consequences.

Students appreciate the complexity of every form of economic activity and the ways resources are allocated whether within their family context or international setting, understanding the sources of conflict between different motives for economic activity.

Identify and investigate issues related to the nature and meaning of work.

Students recognise and are able to identify a variety of jobs using categories or pictures.

Students distinguish between paid and unpaid work and compare different types of work and enterprise in the local community.

Students describe factors that affect choice of employment and opportunities for current and future work, and explain the relationship between education, training and work opportunities

Students demonstrate skills required for moving from school to employment or further education.

Use skills of economic reasoning and interpretation.

Students organise information from a number of sources to review individual economic actions such as saving for a treat or recycling waste.

Students organise information from a number of sources to review group economic actions such as planning to buy a new pet for the family or organising a school fair.

Students organise information from a number of sources to advocate and review their views about some local or national economic issue such as whether tolls should be charged on a new freeway in their area or whether unemployed people should work for the dole.

Students organise information from a number of sources to advocate and review their views about some international economic issue such as whether Australia should increase the intake of skilled migrants or why Australia needs exports.

Back to Top

National Statements of Learning

The Victorian Essential Learning Standards (VELS) incorporate the opportunities to learn covered in the national Statements of Learning (www.mceetya.edu.au/mceetya/statements_of_learning,22835.html). The Statements of Learning describe essential skills, knowledge, understandings and capacities that all young Australians should have the opportunity to learn by the end of Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 in English, Mathematics, Science, Civics and Citizenship and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).

The Statements of Learning were developed as a means of achieving greater national consistency in curriculum outcomes across the eight Australian states and territories. It was proposed that they be used by state and territory departments or curriculum authorities (their primary audience) to guide the future development of relevant curriculum documents. They were agreed to by all states and territories in August 2006.

During 2007, the VCAA prepared a detailed map to show how the Statements of Learning are addressed and incorporated in the VELS. In the majority of cases, the VELS learning focus statements incorporate the Statements of Learning. Some Statements of Learning are covered in more than one domain. In some cases, VELS learning focus statements have been elaborated to address elements of the Statements of Learning not previously specified. These elaborations are noted at the end of each learning focus statement.

Back to Top