Course Descriptions — Special Education

SPED5510 Characteristics and Identification of Disabilities and the Law    
4 semester hours
The focus of this course will be on the defining characteristics of disability classifications in common use in the schools (learning disabilities, cognitive issues such as mental retardation and traumatic brain injury, autism, emotional disorders, and physical disabilities/other health impaired), including discussion of subtypes within disability groupings that have been suggested by research, educational, or clinical practice. Definition of exceptionality and incidence rates and how they vary by state or urban/suburban/rural area will be considered. Historical perspective will be given regarding major national education laws, including IDEA and the most recent reauthorization. Discussion will center on how these laws have been interpreted and how this impacts the service provision in the schools, both for students who receive accommodations (504 Plans) and for those who receive services from a variety of school professionals. The special education referral process will be studied, delineating how and when either a 504 Plan or an Individual Education Plan might be established. Also, state level legislation that has influenced identification and placement will also be discussed. Ethical and legal issues related to issues such as confidentiality or the reporting of suspected abuse will also be considered.
No prerequisites.

SPED5520 Cognitive Development and Disabilities      
2 semester hours
This course will address research and theories related to typical cognitive development and learning and disorders associated with the cognitive processes, ranging from constructivist research to information processing and brain imaging. A historical perspective will also be provided. Additionally, contrasts will be drawn between the impact on various types of processing strengths and weaknesses, such as auditory or other sensory processing and memory (both working memory and long term memory), and how they might impact learning and behavior, as well as remedial efforts for differing disabilities, such as learning disabilities, mental retardation or acquired disorders (traumatic brain injury). Task analyses focusing on receptive/expressive (input/output), visual/auditory, and verbal/nonverbal aspects of cognitive tasks will be undertaken for students ranging from primary to high school. The development of more metacognitive tasks, such the ability to monitor behavior, actively solve problems, and use study skills, will also be discussed, particularly for the middle and high school years.
No prerequisites.

SPED5530 Oral Language Development and Disorders     
3 semester hours
The normal course of oral and nonverbal language development will be contrasted with atypical development, with a focus on the P-12 period. Aspects of language development and techniques for treatment will cover issues related to phonological awareness, morphology, syntax, semantics and pragmatics; additionally, consideration will be given to how the impact of these aspects of language changes through the middle and high school years, both in the school and the community. Further study of the utility and practice of standardized tests specific to oral language development will be undertaken. Additionally, candidates will learn to conduct informal language analyses of school-aged (P-12) students in order to identify oral language weaknesses. Remedial techniques and potential accommodations, based on identified difficulties, will be an additional focus. Specific focus will be given to communication intervention for some cognitive disorders, such as autism, including alternative and augmentative communication. The use of sign language and second language acquisition, and how diagnosis and service provision can overlap, will also be discussed. Finally, software technology in common use will be learned, with requirements to integrate the use of software and other interventions into lesson plans.
Prerequisite: SPED5510.

SPED5540 Diversity and Disability Issues: Students,Families, Schools, and the Community   
2 semester hours
The focus of this course will be on how various social institutions, particularly the school and family, may define disability and how this may impact collaboration and communication in regard to service provision in special education. Research regarding how identification and service delivery, as well as the student’s learning, may be impacted by issues of diversity, including disability, ethnicity/culture, socioeconomic level, language/linguistics/dialects, and gender, will be studied. The potential for bias during assessment and/or instruction and the potential impact on learning will be investigated. Moreover, how these issues are reflected in family systems and identity and how differences might lead to misconceptions or misunderstandings will be discussed. Finally, how strategies to support identity formation and retention can be incorporated into lesson plans or classroom activities will be addressed.
No prerequisites.

SPED5550 Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Development: Promoting Prosocial Behavior     
2 semester hours
This course will cover both the current theories of social-emotional development and the disorders for the school-aged years and adolescence, with some discussion of lifespan issues. Focus will be placed on identification/assessment and intervention of social deficits as they impact the schools. Discussion will focus on developing prosocial behavior, thereby facilitating involvement in the least restrictive environment, and how intervention may be adjusted based on needs of students with varying disabilities. Social behavior will be viewed broadly, ranging from the individuals self-perceptions such as self-esteem and self-determination, to his or her ability to engage socially not only in the school but in the family and community. Particular focus will be placed on time management and self-advocacy for the middle and high school years. Moreover, research regarding the impact on behavior of preconceptions held by teachers and others regarding the students will be studied. Finally, medical, psychological or related service interventions will be discussed and how the schools collaborate with these professional groups.
Prerequisite: SPED5510.

SPED5551 Intervention Strategies for Problematic Behavior    
2 semester hours
This course focuses on behavioral interventions for more challenging behaviors and how issues may change from the elementary to high school years. Environmental modifications, techniques of non-aversive behavioral control and methods to maintain attention, and effective reinforcement techniques will be taught. Techniques such as problem solving, crisis prevention, and conflict resolution, also potentially used to develop prosocial behavior, will be extending in this class to deal with more significant behavior problems, including issues such as self-stimulation and self-abuse. Issues related to the law and the range of service provision outside the school, such as residential placements, will be discussed in relation to challenging behaviors and how the schools collaborate with external professional groups.
Prerequisite: SPED5510.

SPED5560 Strategies and Assistive Technology for Students with Low Incidence and Multiple Disabilities   
2 semester hours
This course will focus on intervention techniques, adaptations, and assistive technology for students with more significant disabilities, including mental retardation, traumatic brain injury, orthopedic impairments, more significant autism, and other health impaired. Typical and atypical motor development will be addressed. Functional adaptation of curriculum will be stressed, as well as resources available in the community. Study will span the needs of students in relation to life skills, recreation/leisure, community and career/vocational issues and the development of goals and interventions to meet those needs. Specific life skills addressed will include toileting, eating, dressing, grooming, mobility, positioning and transfers.
Prerequisite: SPED5510.

SPED5570 Trends: Collaboration, Differentiating Instruction in the Inclusive Classroom, and Transition   
3 semester hours
Remedial theories and modes of intervention for the preschool to postsecondary years will be investigated, ranging from individual to small group to inclusion classroom settings. An overview of how remedial efforts in oral language, reading, writing, mathematics, nonverbal, and social issues might interrelate will be delineated. Current trends in service provision will be explored, such as response to intervention models. The role of the special educator as a facilitator for differentiating curriculum and providing accommodations in the regular education classroom will be highlighted, as well as co-planning and co-teaching models. Moreover, transition services and how they might be impacted by differing needs dependent upon disability will be an additional focus. Local and state resources that pertain to issues of employment, sexuality, independent living and learning, and social participation in leisure activities will be explored, particularly for the middle and high school student. Special educators’ varying roles, from addressing family concerns and advocacy to supervision of para-educators, will be discussed. Candidates will be exposed to professional organizations in the field and will develop a professional development plan and a personal philosophy of special education. The necessity for consultation, collaboration and flexibility of services will permeate all discussion of theory and models.
Prerequisite: SPED5510.

SPED6510 Psychoeducational Assessment of Students with Disabilities   
4 semester hours
The procedures for formal assessment of the issues underlying learning, academic performance, psychosocial behavior, and vocational skills for the P-12 grades will be examined. Issues related to cognitive development, in regards to intelligence or processing (e.g., memory, speed of processing), and testing will be discussed. Nonbiased assessment practices and modification or adaptations for mode of response will be addressed. Candidates will practice administration, scoring, and interpretation of the results of standardized tests in common use in the schools. Case studies will be used to understand the process of differential diagnosis, including interviews, functional assessment of behavior, and assessment of the learning environment; and oral and written dissemination of results that include planning for instruction based on interpreted results. Moreover, curriculum-based assessment and portfolio assessment will be investigated. Readings will focus on research of the possible limitations of formal and informal testing—that is, the relative efficacy of the differing diagnostic approaches, including response to intervention, and how they might facilitate service provision. A lab fee will be charged.
Prerequisite: SPED5510 or concurrent.

SPED6520 Reading Disabilities Theory and Interventions    
3 semester hours
The focus of this course will be on the theoretical models of reading development and disorders and how these theories have impacted the definition of the causes, diagnosis and treatment of reading disorders. Normal development of pre-reading and reading skills will be contrasted with atypical development. Research regarding how reading achievement relates to decoding and phonological awareness; word recognition; vocabulary; comprehension; fluency; self-monitoring; and instruction/service provision (individual, small group and whole-class programs) will be studied, with practice of intervention techniques. For the middle and high school years, techniques effective for various domain areas will be stressed, as well as how accommodations in relation to reading can be integrated into the student’s curriculum. In addition, the course will include further training on the standardized tests and software technology interventions specific to reading, as well as the performance of informal measures such as running records and informal reading inventories, with a focus on error analysis, interpretation and communication of results to students, families and colleagues.
Prerequisites: SPED5510, SPED6510.

SPED6530 Written Language Development and Disorders   
3 semester hours
This course will study theories and research regarding the development and disorders of written language, including handwriting, spelling, and written discourse, from emergent literacy to strategies for research and essay forms used more extensively in middle/high school. The range of impact, dependent on disability, will be investigated, both in regard to academic, social, and vocational pursuits. Formal and informal assessments to elicit and analyze written language samples will be learned and practiced, as well as lesson plans using remedial techniques and software technology commonly in use for varying disabilities, ranging from learning disabilities to physical disorders impacting the physical act of writing.
Prerequisites: SPED5510, SPED6510.

SPED6540 Mathematics and Science Intervention for Students with Disabilities   
2 semester hours
The development of mathematical and science knowledge and reasoning will be studied in conjunction with disorders of these domains. Candidates will learn to assess and remediate weaknesses in both physical, biological, and social sciences and mathematics, including the use of manipulatives and software technology. Strategy instruction as applied to the sciences will be a focus for middle and high school levels, as well as common accommodations. The development of lesson plans to deal with difficulties that may be encountered in topics such as estimation, mental mathematics, measurement, algebra, geometry, patterns and problem solving in mathematics; the inquiry process, experimentation and safety in science; and integration and interrelatedness of areas within the social sciences will be covered. For all domains, the importance of utilizing authentic activities that take into account issues of diversity and facilitate the student integrating academic skills to the spheres of family, community, vocation, and recreation will be stressed.
Prerequisites: SPED5510, SPED6510.

SPED6550 Introduction to Educational Research   
2 semester hours
Candidates will receive an overview of qualitative and quantitative research paradigms. The course will encompass the efficacy of use of basic statistical methods, including correlation, testing of means, analysis of variance and regression. The focus will be on the in-depth understanding and evaluation of research from peer-evaluated journals of the field and in conducting more advanced action research.
No prerequisites.

SPED6560 Unified Field Experience   
4 semester hours
While observation and clinical experience in previous courses are more dependent on the domain being studied, this course stresses the integration of theory and pedagogical methodology across domains based on the assessed needs of the individual student. Candidates will collaborate and work with the same students for extended periods of time, developing lesson plans and writing reports that incorporate informal assessments, goals/specific objectives, and progress after remedial efforts. Candidates will conduct conferences with parents to communicate progress/results. Approximately 50 hours of supervised clinical field experience will be required. A lab fee will be charged.
Prerequisites: SPED6510, SPED6520 and SPED6530.

SPED6570 Internship and Action Research Seminar     
4 semester hours
Because candidates will come to the program with an existing licensure, the focus of this field experience will be to ensure the students’ overall field experiences cover both the range/severity/age levels of all disabilities covered by the LBS I licensure. Candidates should expect the need to be flexible regarding hours, based on the needs of the schools. Placements will encompass the K-21 age range, affording candidates with experience in a range of ages. Candidates will capitalize on skills learned in earlier courses to conduct formal, informal and functional assessments. Based on this information, they will generate and implement lesson plans, establishing an effective learning climate for their students. Additionally, candidates must demonstrate the ability to collaborate with colleagues, para-educators (candidates should expect a supervisory role as well), other professionals within the school and community, and families to meet students’ academic, social and life skill needs. Seminars will be spaced to afford candidates support in completing their comparative case study action research projects and to provide a forum for support, in addition to that provided by supervisors, during the internship process.
Prerequisites: SPED6560 with a grade of “B” or better; completion of all master’s courses required for special education LBS I licensure, maintaining a GPA of 3.0; and officially reported passing score on the pertinent Illinois licensure tests (Basic Skills; Assessment of Professional Teaching K-12; Learning Behavior Specialist I [content area]; and Special Education Curriculum Test); FBI fingerprints check, National Sex Offender list check, TB test, and passing the DCFS-Mandated Reported Training.

SPED6750 Student Teaching and Graduate Seminar In Special Education   
10 semester hours
The student teaching experience involves placement in a special education setting under the supervision of a licensed teacher. Placements will encompass the K-21 age range, affording candidates with experience in a range of ages. Candidates will capitalize on skills learned in earlier courses to conduct formal, informal, and functional assessments. Based on this information, they will generate and implement lesson plans, establishing an effective learning climate for their students. Additionally, candidates must demonstrate the ability to collaborate with colleagues, para-educators (candidates should expect a supervisory role as well), other professionals within the school and community, and families to meet students’ academic, social and life skill needs. In short, the candidate will learn to fill all roles and major functions expected of the special educator, with the benefit of supervision. Graduate seminars will provide candidates with support in completing their comparative case study projects, incorporating action research. They will also provide a forum for support, in addition to that provided by supervisors, during the internship process. Additionally, this will assure maximum exposure during the candidates’ field experiences to the range/severity/age levels of all disabilities covered by the LBS I licensure.
Prerequisites: SPED6560 with a grade of “B” or better.  Completion of all master’s courses required for special education LBS I licensure, maintaining a GPA of 3.0; and officially reported passing score on the pertinent Illinois licensure tests (Basic Skills; Assessment of Professional Teaching K-12; Learning Behavior Specialist I [content area]; and Special Education Curriculum Test); FBI fingerprints check, National Sex Offender list check, TB test, and passing the DCFS-Mandated Reported Training.

Note: Illinois licensure tests (Basic Skills; Assessment of Professional Teaching K-12; Learning Behavior Specialist I [content area]; and Special Education Curriculum Test.) The student teaching experience includes a graduate-level seminar.