BA in Special Education Domains of Study
Areas of Study Within the
B.A. in Special Education Degree
The content of the WGU Bachelor of Arts in Special Education derives from research on effective instruction as well as national and state standards. It provides the knowledge and skills that enable teachers to perform effectively in diverse classrooms. The program content and training processes are consistent with the accountability intent of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. The degree program is focused on the preparation of highly qualified teachers. As described in the federal legislation, a highly qualified teacher is one who not only possesses full state certification, but also has solid content knowledge of the subject(s) he or she teaches. The hallmarks of our program include: (a) appropriate and rigorous subject-matter preparation, (b) scientifically based pedagogical course preparation, and (c) clinical field experiences in which teacher candidates are supervised by trained coaches.
Foundational Perspectives of Education Domain
This course provides an introduction to the historical, legal, and philosophical foundations of education, including special education. Current educational trends, reform movements, major federal and state laws, legal and ethical responsibilities, and an overview of standards-based curriculum are the focus of the course.
The Foundations domain focuses on basic subject matter knowledge that is typically required for baccalaureate-level study, such as application of grammatical standards, reading skills, basic numeracy and calculation skills, basic algebra skills, basic geometry principles, and basic data and probability skills.
General Education Domain
The general education domain focuses on basic subject matter knowledge that is typically included in baccalaureate level programs. Evaluation of your previous college transcripts may clear assessment requirements for some areas of the liberal arts domain, which could shorten your program of study by removing assessments. To waive or clear a subdomain, the transcript must show that you have taken equivalent classes in the subdomain content areas and passed those classes with a C grade or higher at an accredited institution of higher education.
Health, Fitness and Wellness
Content focuses on the importance and foundations of good health and physical fitness, particularly for children and adolescents.
Language and Communication
Content focuses on collegiate reading skills, basic information retrieval skills, writing skills, and speaking and writing skills.
Themes in United States and World History/United States Government, Law and Constitution
Content includes major themes in world history and United States history; basic economic concepts; and the nature and development of American government.
General Education Social Sciences
Content includes social science theory and method; human development and behavior; modern economic, social, and political institutions; and geography and human cultures.
Literature, Arts, and the Humanities
Content focuses on content, concepts, terminology, methodology, models, and issues within and across the disciplines of the humanities.
Content includes numeracy, algebraic concept, geometry, measurement, statistics and probability, mathematical reasoning, and mathematical problem solving.
Content focuses on scientific concepts and inquiry as well as key concepts across and within disciplines of natural science.
Content focuses on the procedures and criteria for analysis, methods of study, theories and interpretation of texts, and discourse in literature.
Collegiate Level Reasoning and Problem Solving
Content includes problem identification and clarification, planning and information gathering, identifying assumptions and values, analysis and interpretation of information and data, reaching well-founded conclusions, and identifying the role of critical thinking in the disciplines and professions.
Diversity, Inclusion, and Exceptional Learners Domain
This course helps candidates develop an understanding of the needs of exceptional learners and students representing diverse cultural, ethnic, and language backgrounds. Topics will focus on understanding and meeting the unique needs of learners representing a variety of ability levels, cultural backgrounds, and learning needs.
Foundations of Special Education Domain
Educational Psychology Domain
This course provides an introduction to principles that incorporate the major theories of typical and atypical physical, social, cognitive, and moral development of children and adolescents. Information processing, brain research, memory, and metacognition will also be covered.
Classroom Management, Engagement, and Motivation Domain
This course provides a foundation for effective classroom management, student engagement, and motivation in order to create a safe, positive learning environment for all students. Major behavioral and motivation theories will be presented.
Foundations of Teaching Domain
The Foundations of Teaching domain contains competencies underlying our knowledge about children, learning, and teaching. As you begin to work in the Foundations of Teaching domain, your mentor will assess your readiness to begin state-required content knowledge testing needed for certification. Your mentor will also assist you in beginning the process of application and acceptance into the two different components of WGU field experiences: the pre-clinical experiences (PCE) and demonstration teaching (DT). Video-based pre-clinical field experiences are embedded in the performance assessments of the Foundations of Teaching domain and require observation, analysis, and reflection based on real classroom situations (in-class PCE will take place in a school near you when you start work on the Effective Teaching Practices domain).
You may not transfer credits or prior years of teaching experience from other institutions to meet requirements of the Foundations of Teaching domain. In the first six months of working in the Foundation of Teaching domain, you must also register for and pass a Basic Skills Test. Many states require such a test for licensure, and you will need to take the one applicable to your state. For states with no specific Basic Skills Test, you will sign up for and take the Praxis 1 exam.
Content addresses evaluating, selecting, developing, and administering assessments; analyzing, diagnosing, and reporting assessment results; and using results to plan and improve instruction.
The FTC4 is a comprehensive exam assessing the student’s knowledge of the subdomains listed above. The student may participate in a comprehensive review session with a mentor and peers to prepare for the assessment.
Assessment, Evaluation and Management Practices Domain
Effective Teaching Practices Domain
The Effective Teaching Practices domain deals with knowledge and skills related to how to teach. All competencies in this domain are derived from research. While you are engaged in the learning opportunities of Effective Teaching Practices, you will also participate in pre-clinical experiences (PCE) that now go beyond the FOT video cases to actual teaching experiences in real classroom situations. You will apply for, and be given approval, by the Field Experiences Office to do your pre-clinical experiences in a school. PCE takes place prior to your actual demonstration teaching (DT) (student teaching) and will require you to spend time in a school completing various required tasks. While you are completing your Effective Teaching Practices domain, you will be assigned a placement specialist who will work to place you in an appropriate classroom for your demonstration teaching as you approach that point.
As you continue your work in this domain, you must pay careful attention to the cohort requirements and deadlines pertaining to your specified demonstration teaching entry date. Your final acceptance into your desired DT cohort will be approved only when you have met all the requirements. Your mentor and the Field Experiences Office will help you through this process. An additional fee is required prior to beginning demonstration teaching (the fee, except for the DT application fee, can be covered through the use of financial aid proceeds). This fee covers the cost of in-classroom clinical supervision. You may not transfer credits or prior years of teaching experience from other institutions to meet requirements of the Effective Teaching Practices domain.
Literacy and Elementary Reading
Specific teaching methods in reading and content related to literacy.
Literacy and Elementary Language Arts and Handwriting
Specific teaching methods in writing, spelling, listening, speaking, and handwriting. Literacy assessments are included in this subdomain.
Specific Teaching Practices Elementary EducationMath and Science
Content focuses on teaching math and science.
Specific Teaching Practices: Elementary EducationSocial Science, Art, and Health
Content focuses on teaching social sciences, art, and health.
The comprehensive exam will assess the student’s knowledge of the subdomains listed above. Completing readings, modules, and study tips as you work through the courses of study and participating in the Specific Teaching Methods Learning Community help prepare you for the ELO4 competency exam. Each course of study will need to have the correct code entered in the text.
Professional Planning, Design, and Development Domain
Demonstration Teaching Domain
The Demonstration Teaching Domain deals with the competencies a prospective teacher must demonstrate when teaching. Before you begin Demonstration Teaching, you must complete a number of requirements. These include a background check, standardized content examinations, and a dispositions inventory. Also, you must have completed all the above academic requirements before beginning Demonstration Teaching.
Demonstration Teaching is a full-time, in-classroom supervised experience required of all teacher candidates. As a reminder, the Demonstration Teaching experience consists of two placements, one in an elementary classroom and one in a middle or secondary level resource room or inclusive classroom. Both placements should support the academic needs of students with mild-to-moderate disabilities. The Demonstration Teaching phase of a teacher candidate’s program includes a series of classroom performance observations designed to gather data about your actual performance skills. A WGU clinical supervisor (an experienced educator who lives and works near your teaching location) will observe you on multiple occasionsat least six observations are requiredand evaluate you in accordance with published checklists and observation rubrics. In addition, where authorized, principals may provide one or more independent observations of WGU candidates. The clinical supervisors submit the results to WGU for review and recording. During your time in Demonstration Teaching, you will participate in a weekly cohort session via conference call. Your cohort is led by a facilitator and is comprised of a group of students teaching at about the same grade level. Your cohort facilitator will guide and support you through the Demonstration Teaching processes.