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EDUC-200 Introduction to Special Education

This course introduces the causes, characteristics, and instructional implications of educational disabilities. Other topics covered include historical perspectives, legislation, and current trends in the field of special education. This course meets the Maryland State Department of Education Inclusion of Special Needs Student Populations requirement for an initial certificate in Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education and Secondary Education. This course also meets the MSDE Historical, Philosophical, and Legal Foundations of Special Education requirement for an initial certificate in Generic Special Education Infant/Primary, Generic Special Education Elementary/Middle, and Generic Special Education Secondary/Adult. A 15-hour Field Experience outside of class time is required. Students are placed in a Howard County Public school or may use a K-12 school where they are employed.

PrerequisitesEligible to enroll in ENGL-101 (3 hours weekly.)
InstructorErin Coleman

Course Objectives | Major Course Topics | Course Format | Orientation | Course Requirements | Materials

Course Objectives

Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  1. Identify approaches to teaching such as cooperative learning, direct instruction.
  2. Identify the type of teaching being employed in a field experience
  3. Identify materials that are specific to a particular approach
  4. Name major categories of exceptionalities (special needs) in learning- including learning disabilities, visual and perceptual difficulties, and special physical or mental challenges
  5. Recognize the multiplicity of individual differences among students – including learning styles, strengths, needs, and worldview.
  6. Recognize research and/or theories on how culture and experience effect responses to exceptionalities and individual differences among students
  7. List current standardized instruments that determine exceptionalities and individual differences
  8. Define, explain, give examples of critical thinking, problem solving and performance skills
  9. Name the personnel who should collaborate in instructional design for students.
  10. Articulate laws that have shaped basic educational policy.
  11. Discuss life-long learning and its effect on the quality of life.
  12. Identify and explain the value of action research.
  13. Relate the history of special education to current practice.
  14. Discuss current trends in special education.
  15. Define terminology related to major disabilities.
  16. Identify the roles of various professionals in the provision of special education.
  17. Describe the process for determining student eligibility for special education services.
  18. Distinguish among major disabilities using criteria of diagnostic characteristics, causes and incidence.
  19. Describe selected educational interventions used in SPED.
  20. Discuss cultural issues in the provision of special education services to students from cultural minorities.
  21. Analyze attitudes toward individuals with disabilities in school and community settings.
  22. Examine issues of socialization and family adjustment as they relate to youngsters with disabilities.
  23. Introduced to the strengths and needs of individual students and how to plan instruction that is responsive to these strengths and needs.
  24. Introduced to a range of evidence- based instructional strategies, resources, and technological tools and how to use them effectively to plan instruction that meets diverse learning needs.
  25. Introduced to how to work with students to collaboratively set and monitor elements of the learning environment including norms, expectations, routines and organizational structures to assure access for all students.
  26. Know effective verbal and nonverbal techniques.
  27. Introduced to effective media communication techniques.
  28. Introduced to how to prepare students for assessments and how to modify assessments and testing conditions for students with exceptionalities and English language learner needs.
  29. Understand the important role of family in learning and will recognize teachers’ vital role in creating a partnership with families.   
  30. Know the importance of establishing and maintaining a positive relationship with families.
  31. Introduced to the importance of collaboration with colleagues and agencies in the larger community to support K-6 students’ learning and well-being

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Major Course Topics

  • Understanding Exceptionalities
  • Special Education Legislation and Process
  • Cultural and Linguistic Diversity and Working with Families
  • Transition and Adult Life
  • Inclusion
  • LD, ADHD, and Gifted/Talented
  • Emotional and Behavioral Disorder (EBD)
  • Communication Disorder
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Physical and Health Disabilities
  • Intellectual Disabilities and Severe/Multiple Disabilities
  • Sensory Impairments

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Course Format

This course format includes but is not limited to the following:

  • There is a lot of material to cover this semester. The key to success is to keep up and submit your work on time. Therefore, this course is not self-paced as an assignment is due every week. Assignments may be submitted early.
  • Does not require real-time chats.
  • Does require threaded discussions online.
  • The communication in the class will take place through Canvas emails, online threaded discussions and announcements posted on Canvas.
  • The course material is sequential.
  • There is a specific timeline for the completion of each assignment in this class.
  • By electing to take this class online, you are assuming responsibility for your own learning complete assignments in order to learn the course material.
  • This class does not require on-campus meetings.

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This course does not have a face-to-face orientation.  There is a required orientation that you will complete online.

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Course Requirements

  • Review the “Frequently Asked Question” section of the eLearning Homepage.
  • Online discussions
  • Final project
  • Weekly Synthesis Activity
  • 15-hours field experience
  • Classroom Journal to accompany field experience

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Text and Materials

Hardman, Drew, & Egan (2014) Human Exceptionality (11th edition): School, Community and Family with Education Course Mate with Mind Tap Reader Printer Access Card with Looseleaf 4-color textbook

To visit our bookstore's online sales site, please visit and follow the instructions for selecting textbooks.

Technical Requirements and Plug-Ins:

Review the Technical Information link.

The following plug-ins are required for this course:

  • Google Chrome, Firefox or Safari.  NOTE: There have been reported difficulties when using internet Explorer with Canvas.
  • PowerPoint Viewer, if you don't have the full version of Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Word Viewer, if you don't have the full version of Microsoft Word
  • Windows Media Player
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader
  • Flash
  • Quick Time
  • Real Player

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If you have any questions or comments about this course, please send a message to Erin Coleman at


Student Profile - Maribel