The M.Ed. in Special Education provides educators with the background to support students with exceptionalities in P-12 settings. The courses provide students with evidence-based methods to develop curriculum, design learning environments, and enhance instructional strategies and guidance techniques to support the diverse learning needs of students. The coursework is designed to provide students with an in-depth study of research-based methods to meet the needs of students with special needs in current educational settings.
- Design and implement appropriate curriculum and instructional practices to promote learning across all developmental domains.
- Implement program specific standards to develop curriculum to meet individual developmental needs of children in specific content areas.
- Develop a working knowledge of developmental theory, standards, frameworks, and concepts in relation to best practices to support learners with special needs.
- Create a developmentally appropriate learning environment by incorporating evidenced-based instructional practices and resources, materials, and technology to support individual learning needs.
- Construct a framework for establishing and maintaining communicative, collaborative partnerships between the school, professional colleagues, family, and community by advocating for appropriate learning experiences for children with special needs.
- Engage in action research to improve instructional strategies and enhance the learning environment for children with special needs.
- Create activities which promote leadership and advocacy in special education to enhance professional development.
Focus of Study Options
Building on classic concepts, the Differentiated Instruction focus of study recognizes how the mental landscape of current learners has been shaped by multimedia, changing how they think and reason when learning. Key components of differentiated instruction are revisited in relation to how new literacies have influenced changes in learner needs. Integrating theory and practice, students create professional learning communities, establish approaches for learner collaboration, and explore current frameworks to deliver content and concepts to meet the wide range of learning needs. Throughout the coursework, students shift perspectives to view differentiation as a scholarly practitioner and academic leaders, shaping instruction to create educational opportunities for 21st century learners.
Early Childhood Education
Young learners with special needs require knowledgeable guidance to acquire critical foundational skills necessary for future learning. This coursework helps to establish understanding of assessment and intervention practices while building skills in research. By engaging families and communities, young learners are exposed to language as an essential skill for reading. This focus of study is designed to meet the Illinois requirements for endorsement.
General Special Education
The General Special Education focus of study prepares participants to enhance their knowledge and skills to work collaboratively with diverse and struggling learners. This coursework focuses on intervention strategies, child development, and strategies to assist students’ access to the general curriculum. It also emphasizes accommodations and modification to meet the diverse needs of students with exceptionalities, gathering and analyzing ongoing data on which educational and instructional decisions are based, and developing collaborative environments designed to positively impact outcomes for students with exceptionalities.