Special Education

Program Overview

The Master of Arts in Special Education program is designed to prepare certified teachers to teach students with special needs in a variety of settings.

The program provides opportunities for students to understand the nature and causes of disabilities, become familiar with agencies and resources for persons with disabilities, and learn the best practices and materials for teaching students with disabilities. This knowledge base, combined with a variety of shared and individual field-based experiences, provides opportunities for teachers to develop their expertise and become confident in their ability to work with students with special needs and become leaders in meeting the challenges of diverse classrooms.

Curriculum Overview

The M.A. in Special Education program comprises a sequence of coursework that includes courses required for a New Jersey Teacher of Students with Disabilities Endorsement. 

For individuals who are currently prepared to teach in general education settings, a 39-credit course sequence is designed to strengthen their preparation to meet the needs of all children, particularly those with disabilities. Students who currently hold a regular New Jersey instructional certificate in another field and successfully complete the program will be eligible for the New Jersey Teacher of Students with Disabilities Endorsement.

Those who already hold New Jersey Teacher of the Handicapped or Teacher of Students with Disabilities certification, a 33-credit sequence is available to provide opportunities for them to further develop their knowledge base and become experts in the field of special education.

Degree Offered

M.A. in Special Education

Contact

Michele Wilson Kamens, Ed.D.
Professor
Memorial Hall 102J
609-895-5498
mkamens@rider.edu

Program Website: Special Education
Associated Department: Department of Graduate Education, Leadership, and Counseling

Related Programs

Special Education (M.A.) Program Requirements

Candidates entering with an undergraduate degree in education and teacher certification will be required to take the following courses in each area listed. Several of the special education courses in Group II (Core Courses) must be completed in order based on prerequisites.

Group I - Introductory Courses
SPED 512Psychology of Exceptionality3
SPED 514Positive Behavior Support3
Group II - Core Courses
SPED 523Inclusive Educational Practices3
SPED 525Transition to Adult Life3
SPED 531Assessment for Instruction in Special Education3
SPED 535Instructional Practices for Students with Severe Disabilities3
SPED 539Instructional Practices for Students with Mild Disabilities3
SPED 540Seminar in Collaboration, Consultation, and Inclusive Classroom3
SPED 542Literacy and Students With Special Needs3
or LITR 502 Curriculum, Instruction and Supervision in Literacy
Group III - Educational Research and Foundations
EDUC 500Introduction To Research3
EDSO 510Sociological and Cultural Foundations of Education3
Group IV - Electives
Select one of the following:3
Assistive and Augmentative Technology
Cognitive Processes and Learning
Strategies for Curriculum Development, Design, Innovation and Change
Psychpathology
Emergent Literacy
Supervised Internship in Special Education
Group V - Capstone Course
SPED 590Professional Seminar in Special Education3
Total Credits39

Graduation Requirements

  • Meet general master’s degree requirements.
  • Successful completion of all academic and field requirements.
  • Completion of 39 (33 for those with existing New Jersey Teacher of the Handicapped or Teacher of Students with Disabilities certification) graduate credits with a minimum GPA of 3.00 on a 4.00 scale.
  • Successful completion of a required sequence of field experiences.
  • Candidates must successfully pass a comprehensive examination covering knowledge and skills related to the field of special education.
  • Successful demonstration of professional dispositions and behavior.

Courses and Descriptions

SPED 500 The Inclusive Classroom: Effective Practices for General Education Teachers 3 Credits

This course is designed to introduce general education teachers to special education and the inclusive classroom. Students will explore current research, issues and practices in special education. Assignments and activities will enable students to develop the knowledge and skills to design and manage the instructional environment for diverse learners in inclusive and classroom setting. Attitudes and behaviors that influence children with special needs will be addressed.

SPED 504 Assistive and Augmentative Technology 3 Credits

This course will emphasize the use of assistive technology, augmentative communication modalities, visual supports, and related instructional strategies that maximize the learning of all individuals including those with exceptional learning needs. Students will learn how to effectively customize materials and adapt learning environments using computer technology. Students will become familiar with the use of high-tech, low-tech solutions that support the individualized needs of learners with a wide range of disabilities.

SPED 512 Psychology of Exceptionality 3 Credits

This course provides opportunities for the study of school psychological issues associated with specific educational exceptionalities, including learning disabilities, mental retardation, behavior disorders, physical handicaps, and giftedness. The characteristics, identification procedures, and current intervention strategies are examined from a psychological and sociocultural perspective. An experience in the field will enable students to apply knowledge in a realistic classroom setting.

SPED 514 Positive Behavior Support 3 Credits

This course is designed to provide extensive knowledge and practice in meeting the behavioral challenges of individuals. Students will receive instruction in a problem-solving approach to identify the possible function(s) of problem behavior and in the design of proactive, positive behavior intervention plans that emphasize the teaching of appropriate alternative skills. An emphasis is placed upon behavior change strategies, which intervene on antecedent events, teach appropriate alternative skills, and provide supports in the natural environment. Multicomponent interventions also are designed to include the interest and preferences of the target student. Legal and ethical considerations are considered. An experience in the field will enable students to apply knowledge in a realistic classroom setting.

SPED 523 Inclusive Educational Practices 3 Credits

This course will emphasize planning and instructional strategies that maximize the learning of all students including those with exceptional learning needs in the general education classroom. Students will consider their role as curriculum makers and how to effectively plan a course, a unit, and a lesson for a wide array of diverse learners. The organization of the learning environment also will be discussed so as to guide learning. Teaching methods that enhance content for all learners and the design of learning strategies to help students learn how to learn will be introduced. An experience in the field will enable students to apply knowledge in a realistic classroom setting.

Prerequisite(s): SPED 512 and SPED 514.

SPED 525 Transition to Adult Life 3 Credits

This course is designed to provide students with an understanding of theoretical and applied models of transition in special education. Information on the application and interpretation of specialized assessment tools will be presented. Transition planning, including understanding, formulating and implementing the ITP, will be taught. Knowledge of and collaborative interactions with the wide variety of school and community personnel and agencies with a role in transition will be emphasized. Strategies for developing student self-advocacy and independence in the transition process will be presented. Legal information and ethical issues will be noted. An experience in the field will enable students to apply knowledge in a realistic classroom setting.

Prerequisite(s): SPED 512 and SPED 514.

SPED 531 Assessment for Instruction in Special Education 3 Credits

This course will give students the opportunity to evaluate, select, develop and adapt assessment materials for children with special needs. The legal, cultural, and ethical implications of assessment will be discussed. Interpretation of formal and informal assessments will be addressed. Emphasis will be placed on using assessment information to make decisions about appropriate placement and learning environments, as well as making decisions for effective instruction in the classroom. An experience in the field will enable students to apply knowledge in a realistic classroom setting.

Prerequisite(s): SPED 512 and SPED 514.

SPED 535 Instructional Practices for Students with Severe Disabilities 3 Credits

The course will provide students with the knowledge and skills needed to provide systematic, individualized instruction to students with moderate to severe disabilities. Knowledge and training in the use of task analysis, prompting hierarchies, discrete trials, systematic instructional plans and routines will be offered across all domains of a life skills curriculum. Based upon a student’s assessment data, students will be able to develop an appropriate individual educational plan with specific goals and objectives. In addition, strategies to modify and/or adapt goals to provide instruction in an inclusive setting will be explored. An experience in the field will enable students to apply knowledge in a realistic classroom setting.

Prerequisite(s): SPED 531.

SPED 539 Instructional Practices for Students with Mild Disabilities 3 Credits

This course will give students the opportunity to evaluate, select, develop and adapt instructional and assessment materials for children with disabilities. Using various case studies, students will have the opportunity to develop an Individualized Educational Program and synthesize assessment information to make appropriate instructional decisions. Students will experience the collaborative process and develop their ability to function as part of an educational team. A field experience with children with disabilities will enable students to apply knowledge in a realistic classroom setting.

Prerequisite(s): SPED 512; SPED 514; SPED 523; SPED 525; SPED 531 and SPED 535.

SPED 540 Seminar in Collaboration, Consultation, and Inclusive Classroom 3 Credits

This course is designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills to facilitate successful inclusion programs. Students will develop the ability to design and manage the instructional environment in an inclusive classroom setting. Through the use of research, case studies, and classroom interactions, students will develop effective communication, conflict resolution, and collaboration skills for professional interactions. Students will become familiar with appropriate models for collaborative consultation. Attitudes and behaviors that influence the success of children with special needs in the general education classroom will be addressed. An experience in the field with children with disabilities will enable students to apply knowledge in a realistic classroom setting.

Prerequisite(s): SPED 539.

SPED 542 Literacy and Students With Special Needs 3 Credits

The course will provide an overview of theories, assessment, and intervention techniques for literacy of students with special instructional needs. Students will explore research validated methods for literacy development and instruction, including current strategies for teaching comprehension, composition, vocabulary, and language study. Management of literacy instruction is studied in a workshop setting. Ten hours of field work in a special education setting is required.

Prerequisite(s): SPED 531 and SPED 539.

SPED 580 Supervised Internship in Special Education 3 Credits

This supervised internship experience will provide students with an opportunity to connect theory and practice in special education during the summer. Students will work full-time in a setting with individuals with disabilities. After a brief period of orientation to the setting, the intern will assume a full load of teaching and/or supervisory responsibilities appropriate to the context of the experience. Seminar meetings will be required. Permission of the program advisor is required.

Prerequisite(s): SPED 512, SPED 514, SPED 523, SPED 525, SPED 531, SPED 535, SPED 539.

SPED 590 Professional Seminar in Special Education 3 Credits

This course addresses the current issues in the field of special education. Students will identify these issues through directed readings and through a direct, supervised field experience. Students will need to document a minimum of 100 hours in a field setting. The instructor will provide group supervision in the weekly seminars. Students also will obtain experience developing and delivering a professional presentation on a current issue in the field.

Prerequisite(s): Permission of instructor.

SPED 600 Independent Study and Research in Special Education 1-3 Credits

The content of the course varies with the academic research interests of students who wish to engage in independent study related to topics in special education.