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 30-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 (TOSD) certification, may be eligible for up to nine credits waived depending on prior course work and transcript review. A total of 30 credits in graduate work is still required to receive the M.A. degree.

Degree Offered

M.A. in Special Education

Contact

Diane Casale-Giannola, Ed.D.
Professor
Memorial Hall 102E
609-896-5078
dgiannola@rider.edu

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

Related Programs

Teacher of Students with Disabilities Coursework

(21 credits)

Candidates entering with an undergraduate degree in education and teacher certification will be required to take the following courses. SPED 512 is the prerequisite for all other courses.

SPED 504Assistive and Augmentative Technology for Autism Spectrum Disorders and Other Disabilities3
SPED 512Psychology of Exceptionality3
SPED 514Positive Behavior Support3
SPED 524Collaboration and Inclusive Practice for students wtih Mild and Severe Disabilities3
SPED 531Assessment for Instruction in Special Education3
SPED 536Instruction and Transition for Autism and Severe Disabilities3
SPED 539Instructional Practices for Students with Disabilities3
Total Credits21

Additional Courses for Special Education (M.A.)

(30 total credits)

EDUC 500Introduction To Research3
SPED 542Literacy and Students With Special Needs3
SPED 590Professional Seminar in Special Education3
Total Credits9

Additional Courses for Special Education M.A. with Reading Specialist Certification

(39 total credits)

All additional courses for this certification can be completed online.

LITR 501Psychology and Pedagogy of Literacy Processes3
LITR 502Curriculum, Instruction and Supervision in Literacy3
LITR 504Diagnosis and Correction of Literacy Abilities and Challenges: Seminar and Practicum3
Total Credits9

Graduation Requirements

  • Meet general master’s degree requirements.
  • Successful completion of all academic and field requirements.
  • Completion of 30 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.

EDUC 500 Introduction To Research 3 Credits

This course will provide students with the tools to evaluate the claims and uses of research related to teaching, counseling, and psychology. Students will learn how to find and critique the literature, and will be able to conduct some of their own basic evaluative research to assess the efficacy of their practice and programs. At the conclusion of the course, students will have developed an understanding of rigorous research and evaluation design, and will have skills in data analysis and interpretation.

LITR 501 Psychology and Pedagogy of Literacy Processes 3 Credits

Studies the communication process from a componential point of view, including language acquisition and development, perception, comprehension and cognition, composition, and language systems. A review of the literature in each area as well as a survey of models of reading and language is included.

LITR 502 Curriculum, Instruction and Supervision in Literacy 3 Credits

Reading and literacy pedagogy for ALL learners, gifted, average, and diverse learners is the course content. Current strategies for teaching comprehension, composition, vocabulary, language study, and independence skills are learned in a workshop setting. How to manage literacy instruction through content areas for all aged children in mainstream classrooms is studied. Parent education and inservice training are also included in course content.

LITR 504 Diagnosis and Correction of Literacy Abilities and Challenges: Seminar and Practicum 3 Credits

Studies reading/language arts abilities and disabilities and standardized and informal tests. Observational techniques and diagnostic teaching for assessment are stressed.

SPED 504 Assistive and Augmentative Technology for Autism Spectrum Disorders and Other Disabilities 3 Credits

This course will emphasize the use of assistive technology, augmentative communication modalities, visual supports, and related instructional methods and strategies that maximize the learning of individuals with autism spectrum disorders and other exceptional learning needs. Students will learn how to effectively customize materials and adapt learning environments using technology, with a specific focus on individuals with ASD. Students will become familiar with the use of high-tech, low-tech, and no-tech solutions that support the individualized needs of learners. A 10-hour field experience and research component will be required.

SPED 512 Psychology of Exceptionality 3 Credits

This course provides opportunities for the study of school psychological issues associated with supporting students with exceptionalities. Philosophical, historical, and legal foundations of special education, and the characteristics of students with disabilities will be examined. Special education policy, legal foundations, and evaluation procedures are discussed. Current issues related to inclusive practice and intervention strategies are examined from a psychological and sociocultural perspective. A 10-hour experience in the field will enable candidates to apply knowledge in a realistic classroom setting. This course, or its equivalent, will be the prerequisite for all other SPED courses.

SPED 514 Positive Behavior Support 3 Credits

This course is designed to provide extensive knowledge and practice in meeting the behavioral challenges of individuals. Candidates will receive instruction in a problem-solving approach to identify the possible function(s) of problem behavior and 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 524 Collaboration and Inclusive Practice for Students with Mild and Severe Disabilities 3 Credits

This course will emphasize curriculum planning, learning environments, materials, and modifications for students with mild and severe disabilities. Instructional and behavioral strategies to maximize learning of all students, including those with exceptional learning needs in the general education classroom will be examined. Inclusive educational practices including collaboration, communication and positive behavior supports and co-teaching will be discussed and applied for diverse learners. An experience in the field will enable students to apply knowledge in a realistic classroom setting.

Prerequisite(s): SPED 512.

SPED 531 Assessment for Instruction in Special Education 3 Credits

In this course, standardized and functional assessments are emphasized. Students are introduced to basic educational assessment procedures, norm-referenced, criterion-referenced, and individually-referenced assessment in this course. An emphasis is placed on gathering information to answer specific referral questions, and the use of assessment tools, which meet legal and ethical guidelines. A model of academic assessment most consistent with classroom practices is emphasized. Students are expected to measure an individual’s performance (e.g., current level of functioning) and provide recommendations for instruction and learning goals and objectives. A field experience will enable students to apply knowledge to practice.

Prerequisite(s): SPED 512.

SPED 536 Instruction and Transition for Autism and Severe Disabilities 3 Credits

The course will provide students with the knowledge and skills to support individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders and those with moderate to severe disabilities. Strategies to address instruction, transition, behavior, and communication and will be emphasized across domains of life skills, inclusion, and transition. Transition planning, including understanding, formulating, and implementing the Individual Transition Plan will be taught. Collaborative interactions with school and community personnel and agencies will be addressed. An experience in the field will enable students to apply knowledge in a realistic classroom setting.

Prerequisite(s): SPED 512.

SPED 539 Instructional Practices for Students with Disabilities 3 Credits

This course will give students the opportunity to evaluate, select, develop, and adapt instructional and assessment materials for individuals with mild to severe disabilities. Using various case studies, students will have the opportunity to develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP) and synthesize assessment information to make appropriate instructional decisions addressing learner characteristic and classifications. Curriculum planning, learning environments, modifications, and materials for diverse learner needs will be examined. 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 542 Literacy and Students With Special Needs 3 Credits

The course will provide an overview of theories, assessment, and intervention techniques for the literacy development 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. An experience in the field will enable students to apply knowledge in a realistic classroom setting.

Prerequisite(s): SPED 512.

SPED 590 Professional Seminar in Special Education 3 Credits

This course addresses the current issues in the field of special education. Students will synthesize research and literature from the field of special education to address current issues and practice. Collaboratively, students will examine one area of special education through research and presentation. A reflective comprehensive view of special education including assessment, instruction, inclusive practice, assistive technology, Autism Spectrum Disorder, behavior, literacy etc. will be shared. Students are expected to complete a comprehensive exam in these related special education topics and submit 100 hours of supervised field hours. This course should be taken in the final semester of the MA program as it is the culminating reflective course of study.

Prerequisite(s): Permission of instructor.