Specialization Course Descriptions

The course descriptions for specializations within the Master of Arts in Special Education program follow.


Specialization Courses: Early Childhood — 15 required credits

SPED 630 Development in Early Childhood  (3 credits)

This course equips educators to explore child development in various domains (i.e., motor/physical, social and emotional, language/communication, and cognitive) for young children (prenatal – primary grades) with a range of ability levels. Particular emphases will be placed on examining theories of development, and how those theories apply to young children with differing ability levels in the assessment and intervention process. (For Master’s in ECSE)

SPED 631 Introduction to Early Childhood Supports and Services  (3 credits)

This course provides information for professionals to understand the legal basis for and requirements related to providing early childhood supports and services to young children with disabilities and their families.  Topics include federal and state rules, guidelines and regulations, service delivery components and practices, current trends and issues, and professional and ethical guidelines and considerations. (For Master’s in ECSE)

SPED 632 Methods in Early Childhood SPED  (3 credits)

This course presents program models, instructional methods, and curricula in early childhood special education. Emphases are on developmentally appropriate practice, supporting transitions, methods for collaboration, and development of meaningful learning progressions for young children with disabilities. Coaching strategies to support families in implementing routine-based interventions are also explored. (For Master’s in ECSE)

SPED 633 Observation and Assessment in Early Childhood SPED  (3 credits)

This course is designed to prepare early childhood educators to use multiple methods of assessment and data-sources to guide educational decisions for young children with disabilities. Emphasis is on observing, recording, assessing, and interpreting behavior and interactions among children and families, as well as using assessments to work toward quality learning and performance. (For Master’s in ECSE)

SPED 6165 Challenging Behavior in Young Children  (3 credits)

Created for early childhood education professionals, this course introduces key strategies designed to prevent, assess and address challenging behaviors in young children.  Focused on proactivity, the methods presented encourage early childhood teachers to lay a solid foundation with children and parents/guardians. Additionally, participants will learn about and develop processes for data collection, intervention planning and implementation. (For Master’s in ECSE)

Specialization Courses: K-12 — 12 required credits

SPED 640 Classroom and Behavior Managament  (3 credits)

This course on classroom and behavior management is based on the principles and procedures of applied behavior analysis. Emphasis is on the impact of language delays and disabilities on behavior, as well as, implementing and evaluating proactive strategies that promote learning and pro-social behavior and reduce challenging behavior. (For Master's in SPED K-12)

SPED 641 Assessment in SPED  (3 credits)

This course is designed to prepare teachers to administer, score, and interpret standardized educational instruments; use standardized assessments to make eligibility, placement, and program decisions for students with disabilities; and develop and use formative educational and adaptive behavioral assessments to make data-based instructional decisions. Students will be expected to generate an assessment report based on assessment results. (For Master's in SPED K-12)

SPED 642 Methods for Working with Students with Disabilities  (3 credits)

This course focuses on effective teaching for students with or at-risk for disabilities in general education settings, spanning grades K-12. Emphasis is placed on research-based instructional methods for effective instruction of math, reading, and other academic content areas; as well as methods for effective behavioral supports and interventions. Integration of national, state, and local curricula standards will also be addressed. (For Master's in SPED K-12)

SPED 6162 The Essentials of Transition for Students with Disabilities  (3 credits)

In this engaging course, participants will learn the basics of transition to adulthood for students with disabilities including employment, post-secondary education and independent living.  The course focuses on practices that can be used in schools and communities to improve transition outcomes for learners.  Participants will learn how to use assessment to plan and how to involve students and families in this process.  Connecting research to practice, the text contains many valuable and easy to use strategies to ensure collaboration with transition team members.  This course will help educators create successful, exciting opportunities for transition aged students. (For Master's in SPED K-12)

Elective Courses — ECSE majors select one course (3 credit hours) and K12 majors select two courses (6 credit hours) from this list

SPED 6160 Inclusionary Pracatices in Education  (3 credits)

This course will increase your knowledge base and understanding of inclusion for students with disabilities.  You will gain an understanding of legislation and mandates specific to inclusion as well as learn about the impacts of inclusion on students with and without disabilities.  You will explore the social, emotional and academic components of an inclusive classroom and learn how to provide an accepting, inclusive classroom that allows each student to reach their full potential.  Additionally, you will develop an understanding of assessment, lesson planning and instruction including the use of Universal Design for Learning and co-teaching methods. This course is appropriate for any educator. (Elective for Master's in ECSE and SPED K-12)

SPED 6161 The Principles of Co-Teaching  (3 credits)

Co-teaching has increasingly become more popular as education moves to more collaborative models of instruction. This course will help participants reflect on what they can bring to a co-teaching framework and on aspects of co-teaching that are essential for co-teaching partnerships to succeed. Participants will learn the different models of co-teaching, how to co-teach with a specialist, and how to apply specific strategies to foster learning in a collaborative environment. Participants will build knowledge about benefits and challenges associated with co-teaching and about the importance of collaboration. Those who take this course will also have an opportunity to find, develop and use resources related to co-teaching. Appropriate for grade levels K-12.  (Elective for Master's in ECSE and SPED K-12)

SPED 6163 Trauma-Informed Strategies for Teaching and Learning  (3 credits)

In this course, you will learn how to help your students overcome the impact of adverse experiences as you develop trauma-informed teaching strategies. Beginning with brain research, discover the effect trauma has on students' emotional and academic development. Explore the foundations of trauma-sensitive teaching, including an emphasis on safety, relationships, and resiliency. This course also provides a thought-provoking look at the importance of self-care for educators working with students impacted by trauma.  (Elective for Master's in ECSE and SPED K-12)

SPED 6164 The Fundamentals of Using Universal Design for Learning  (3 credits)

This course combines the powerful processes and strategies of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) with lesson planning to ensure educators are meeting the needs of EACH learner. Using an extremely applicable text, videos and relevant applications, the course provides an overview of UDL guidelines. Additionally, teachers will learn new strategies for goal setting and assessment. Educators will be able to increase engagement, infuse lessons with multiple means of content representation, and choose materials and media to enhance their teaching. Teachers will reflect on strategies to ensure professional growth and an increase in student achievement. This course will provide the tools needed to meet the ever-changing variability of learners in our classrooms and schools beyond differentiation. (Elective for Master's in ECSE and SPED K-12)

Practicum — only available to SD teachers — taken post-degree

SPED 650E Practicum (ECSE)  (3 credits)

This practicum provides students with field-based experiences relevant to the needs of students receiving early childhood special education services. Students act as observers and participants by planning for and teaching students with disabilities in early childhood settings; developing IFSPs and IEPs: and participating in meetings involving decision-making processes for young children with disabilities in early childhood settings. Required course for South Dakota residents seeking Early Childhood Special Education Endorsement only; taken post-degree.

SPED 650K Practicum (K-12)  (4 credits)

This practicum provides students with school-based field experiences relevant to the needs of K-12 students with disabilities. Students act as observers and participants by planning for and teaching students with disabilities in K-12 settings and participating in meetings involving decision-making processes for students with disabilities, writing a behavior plan, IEP, and assessment report; working with families, completing a standardized assessment, supervising paraprofessionals, and demonstrating familiarity with special education processes and procedures. Required course for South Dakota residents only; taken post-degree.