Saint Joseph's University

SPE 600 Foundations and Current Issues in Special Education

Develop the pedagogical skills that facilitate the success of students with exceptionalities.

The content presented on this page is representative information for example purposes and is subject to change without notice as course and student needs change over time. For current course descriptions, please see the Online Academic Catalog.

Format: Online

Duration: 16 weeks

Credits: 3 credits

Helping a child reach their potential is the greatest gift you can give them. Knowing how to recognize a child’s ability to learn—and knowing that some students may need specific guidance—is the challenge, and the satisfaction, of being a special education teacher.

This course introduces you to the basics and contemporary issues within the field of special education. We explore the philosophical, psychological and sociological basis in special education, and offer a review of research-based curricula, programmatic innovations, policy issues and their effects through the lens of ethical practices.

By reading and discussing in online classes and in your school-based experience, you will discover first-hand that students with special needs can—and will—succeed with the help of a qualified and dedicated special education teacher.

Week by week, discussions with your professor and fellow classmates will give you added insight into the challenging world of special education. Topics include evidence-based core concepts that contribute to effective program planning, investigation of cognitive, academic, behavioral and psychosocial solutions, and implications for those working with students with exceptionalities. By exploring future implications for the advancement of special education diagnostic and instructional services, you discover even greater learning opportunities for your students with special needs.

Sample Course Topics 

Throughout this course, weekly topics may include:

  • Foundations in Special Education: Becoming a Professional
  • Cultural and Linguistic Perspectives: Teaching Effectively in a Changing School Population
  • Identifying and Planning for Students with Special Needs
  • Understanding Learning Disabilities and Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
  • Understanding Autism Spectrum and Communication Disorders
  • Understanding Academically Gifted and Talented Students

Examples of What You’ll Learn

This course offers a comprehensive understanding of the wide spectrum of special needs students, and teaches the skills to identify behaviors, plan effective activities, and support and create the policies that will enhance the learning environment for these students. Learning outcome examples:

  • Understand the roles and responsibilities of special education teachers.
  • Understand the referral process for special education services, as well as planning and issues of accountability.
  • Outline the classification criteria, identification and assessment of students with learning disabilities.
  • Define communication disorders/emotional and behavioral disabilities (EBD), including primary behavioral characteristics and interventions for students with EBD.        
  • Identify the characteristics of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and effective evidence-based education practices used for these students.
  • Define the disability classifications for students with sensory impairments, key characteristics, and effective instructional practices.
  • Identify the commonly accepted definitions and classification criteria for giftedness and address the educational and social needs of these students.

To learn more about the online Master of Science in Education – Special Education and Master of Science in Education – Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing PK-12 certification curricula from Saint Joseph’s University, including Foundations and Current Issues in Special Education, call (866) 758-7670 to speak with a Program Manager or request more information.

The content presented on this page is representative information for example purposes and is subject to change without notice as course and student needs change over time. For current course descriptions, please see the Online Academic Catalog.

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