B.A. in Special Education Areas of Study

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.

General Education

Health and Fitness
This course focuses on the importance and foundations of good health and physical fitness, particularly for children and adolescents.

Foundations of College Mathematics
This course focuses on basic numeracy and calculation skills, basic algebra skills, basic geometry principles, and basic data and probability skills.

Communication Foundations
This course focuses on the application of grammatical standards and reading skills.

English Composition I
This course introduces learners to the types of writing and thinking that is valued in college and beyond. Students will practice writing in several genres and several media, with emphasis placed on writing and revising academic arguments.

U.S. Government and Constitution
This course includes major themes in world history and United States history; basic economic concepts; and the nature and development of American government.

English Composition II
English Composition II introduces learners to research writing and thinking that are valued in college and beyond. The Composition II course at WGU should be seen as a foundational course designed to help undergraduate students build fundamental skills for ongoing development in writing and research. Students will complete an academic research paper.

Mathematics for Elementary Educators I
This course covers important topics in problem solving, set theory, number theory, whole numbers and integers.

Mathematics for Elementary Educators II
This course takes topics in problem solving, set theory, number theory, whole numbers and integers and generalizes them into algebraic reasoning.

Mathematics for Elementary Educators III
This course takes topics statistics and measurement and covers geometry from synthetic, transformational, and coordinate perspectives.

Elements of Effective Communication
Elements of Effective Communication introduces learners to elements of communication that are valued in college and beyond. Materials are based on five principles: being aware of your communication with yourself and others; using and interpreting verbal messages effectively; using and interpreting nonverbal messages effectively; listening and responding thoughtfully to others, and adapting messages to others appropriately.

Literature, Arts, and the Humanities
These courses focus on content, concepts, terminology, methodology, models, and issues within and across the disciplines of the humanities.

Integrated Natural Sciences
Integrated Natural Sciences explores the natural world through an integrated perspective and helps students begin to see and draw numerous connections among events in the natural world. Topics include the universe, the Earth, ecosystems and organisms. Students apply scientific concepts in the examination of natural science fundamentals.

Survey in U.S. and World History
The content in these courses include major themes in world history and United States history; basic economic concepts; and the nature and development of American government.

General Education Social Sciences
These courses includes topics in social science theory and method; human development and behavior; modern economic, social, and political institutions; and geography and human cultures.

Collegiate Level Reasoning and Problem Solving
This course includes topics in 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.

Teacher Education Foundations

Foundational Perspectives in Education
Students will learn the historical, legal, and philosophical foundations of education while reflecting on educational issues impacting today’s educators.

Fundamentals of Educational Psychology
Students will learn 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
Students will learn the foundations for effective classroom management as well as strategies for creating a safe, positive learning environment for all learners. Students will be introduced to systems that promote student self-awareness, self-management, self-efficacy, and self-esteem.

Educational Assessment
Students will learn how to make appropriate data-driven instructional decisions by exploring key concepts relevant to the administration, scoring, and interpretation of classroom assessments.

Children’s Literature
Students will explore multiple genres, historical perspectives, cultural representations, and current applications of children’s literature.

Teacher Education Diversity

Cultural Studies and Diversity
Students will learn strategies to become more culturally aware in their personal and professional relationships. They will analyze the role of culture in today’s world, develop culturally-responsive practices, and understand the barriers to and the benefits of diversity.

Fundamentals of Diversity, Inclusion, and Exceptional Learners
Students will learn the history of inclusion and develop practical strategies for modifying instruction, in accordance with legal expectations, to meet the needs of a diverse population of learners. This population includes learners with disabilities, gifted and talented learners, culturally diverse learners, and English language learners.

Special Education

Special Education, Law and Legal Issues
Introduction to Special Education, Law and Legal Issues introduces the history and nature of special education and how it relates to general education, as well as specific legal acts and concepts governing it. Topics include history of special education, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the No Child Left Behind Act, FAPE (free, appropriate public education), and least restrictive environments.

Psychoeducational Assessment Practices and IEP Development and Implementation
Psychoeducational Assessment Practices and IEP Development/Implementation prepares students to apply knowledge the IEP as they work with students who have mild to moderate disabilities in a wide variety of possible situations, all with an emphasis on cross-categorical inclusion. It helps students gain fluency in their understanding of the 13 disability categories, assessment, curriculum, and instruction.

Behavioral Management and Intervention

Instructional Models and Design, Supervision and Culturally Responsive Teaching
Instructional Models and Design, Supervision and Culturally Response Teaching helps students understand the role of special education in the development of instruction, why this field exists separate from and in conjunction with general education, where it is going, and how they can help coordinate inclusion for students. Students will gain expertise in developing instructional, curricular, and environmental interventions based on assessment data and student need.

Preclinical Experiences

Introduction to Preclinical Experiences
Students will utilize video observations to reflect on a wide range of educational considerations so that they can develop the tools necessary to be prepared in the classroom. Students will document at least 40 hours of video observation.

Preclinical Experiences in Elementary and Special Education
Students will observe and participate in a wide range of in-classroom teaching experiences in order to develop the skills and confidence necessary to be an effective teacher. Students will reflect on and document at least 60 hours of in-classroom observations. Prior to entering the classroom for the observations, students will be required to meet several requirements including a cleared background check, passing scores on the state or WGU required basic skills exam, a completed resume, philosophy of teaching, and professional photo.

Instructional Planning and Presentation

Introduction to Instructional Planning and Presentation
Students will develop a basic understanding of effective instructional principles and how to differentiate instruction in order to elicit powerful teaching in the classroom.

Instructional Planning and Presentation for Elementary and Special Education
Students will continue to build instructional planning skills with a focus on selecting appropriate materials for diverse learners, selecting age- and ability-appropriate strategies for the content areas, promoting critical thinking, and establishing both short- and long-term goals.

Elementary Education Methods

Elementary Reading and Literacy Methods
Students will learn how to teach reading and literacy instruction in the elementary classroom by utilizing research based instructional practices.

Language Arts Instruction and Intervention
Students will learn how to teach language arts instruction in the elementary classroom by utilizing research based instructional practices.

Elementary Mathematics Methods
Students will learn how to teach mathematics in the elementary classroom by utilizing research based instructional practices.

Elementary Science Methods
Students will learn how to teach science in the elementary classroom by utilizing research based instructional practices.

Elementary Social Studies Methods
Students will learn how to teach social studies in the elementary classroom by utilizing research based instructional practices.

Elementary Visual and Performing Arts Methods
Students will learn how to teach visual and performing arts in the elementary classroom by utilizing research based instructional practices.

Elementary Physical Education and Health Methods
Students will learn how to teach physical and health education in the elementary classroom by utilizing research based instructional practices.

Demonstration Teaching

Supervised Demonstration Teaching in Elementary and Special Education
The Supervised Demonstration Teaching in Elementary and Special Education courses involve a series of classroom performance observations by the host teacher and clinical supervisor that develop comprehensive performance data about the teacher candidate’s skills.

Teacher Work Sample in Elementary and Special Education
The Teacher Work Sample is a culmination of the wide variety of skills learned during your time in the Teachers College at WGU. In order to be a competent and independent classroom teacher, you will showcase a collection of your content, planning, instructional, and reflective skills in this professional assessment.

Professional Portfolio
You will create an online teaching portfolio that includes professional artifacts (e.g. resume and Philosophy of Teaching Statement) that demonstrate the skills you have acquired throughout your Demonstration Teaching experience.

Cohort Seminar
The Cohort Seminar in Special Education provides mentoring and supports teacher candidates during their demonstration teaching period by providing weekly collaboration and instruction related to the demonstration teaching experience. It facilitates their demonstration of competence in becoming reflective practitioners, adhering to ethical standards, practicing inclusion in a diverse classroom, exploring community resources, building collegial and collaborative relationships with teachers, and considering leadership and supervisory skills.