SPED - Special Education


Effective 1 June 2024 through 31 May 2025

Please see the Graduate Catalog Archives for PDF versions of past catalogs.

Course Descriptions

SPED 5010 Differentiated Mathematics Instruction (3)

This is a special topics course designed to explore the literature and current practices in differentiating math instruction in K-12 classrooms. The primary objective of this class is for students to advance their professional knowledge, skills and practice for effectively teaching mathematics through differentiated instruction. An additional emphasis will be placed on response to intervention and students will learn how to assess mathematics formatively and develop strategies and interventions that target specific math difficulties. Prerequisite: MTHC 4310 or permission of the advisor.

SPED 5020 Assistive Technology for Students with Special Needs (2-3)

This course focuses on hardware and software designed for persons with disabilities. Students will carry out a hands-on project designed to provide educators with the tools needed to evaluate hardware and software in relation to a student’s specific disability.

SPED 5030 Students with Mild/Moderate Disabilities (3)

Students in this course study mild/moderate disabilities, including learning disabilities, behavior disorders, mental retardation, physical disabilities and other health impairments. Course content focuses on the identification and characteristics of students with mild to moderate disabilities in each category. Topics explored also include historical perspectives of special education, legal issues, ethical considerations of labeling individuals, definitions, interventions and educational models. 

SPED 5050 Language Development (3)

This course examines language development in children and youth with and without disabilities. Evaluation of language delays, differences and disabilities are reviewed. Language intervention activities for English Language Learners and students with disabilities as well as English language arts education instructional strategies are covered. Prerequisite: SPED 5860 or permission of the advisor.

SPED 5090 Special Education Practicum (1-3)

Practicum experiences and requirements vary by emphasis area. Location, field experience and identity of the practicum supervisor will be decided upon in each practicum situation. May be repeated for credit if content differs. Prerequisites: Advisor permission; completion of coursework in the specific area of the practicum, including a minimum of 3 credit hours from the Webster University School of Education.

  • Practicum: Applied Behavior Analysis (1-3 hours)
  • Practicum: Cross-Cat (1-3 hours)
  • Practicum: Dyslexia (1-3 hours)
  • Practicum: Severe Developmental Disabilities and Autism (1-3 hours)

SPED 5200 Independent Study (1-3)

Students with special interests or needs not met by existing curricula may request that a faculty member supervise an independent study. Together the student and faculty member decide the content of the study and the criteria for evaluation. In no case can an independent study be set up when an existing course already treats the subject. May be repeated for credit if content differs. Prerequisite: Permission of the advisor.

SPED 5220 Topics in Special Education (1-3)

Students in this course explore, in depth, specific topics in the education of children with special needs. Topics are selected that promote the integration of these children into the mainstream of education. Topics vary. May be repeated for credit if content differs.

SPED 5240 Psychoeducational Assessment (3)

This course examines assessment of students with learning difficulties. A review of the statistical properties of standardized instruments and the social and legal issues in testing is presented to provide a framework from which students examine instruments of intelligence, language, perception, motor skills, academics, and behavior. The information derived from these instruments is used to determine specific strengths and weaknesses in individual students using a case-study approach.

SPED 5245 Counseling for Life's Transitions (3)

This course focuses on counseling and communication techniques appropriate to the needs of the exceptional individual and their families. The content and skills needed for special educators to facilitate effective transitions at multiple transition periods from birth through age twenty-one are a major focus of the course. Curriculum and instruction for the transitions period from school to adult life specifically addresses post-secondary education, vocational training, integrated employments (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living and community participation. Prerequisite: SPED 5860 or permission of the advisor.

SPED 5250 Behavior Management for Children with Special Needs (3)

Students are introduced to the principles and techniques of behavior management appropriate to the needs of individual students with disabilities. Students will utilize the framework of Positive Interventions and Support to support students with challenging behavior at the school, classroom, and individual level. Content includes understanding student behavior, partnering with students and families, identifying problem behaviors, functional behavior assessment, direct and indirect observational techniques, preventative and pre-correction techniques, methods to strengthen, replace or weaken behavior, measurement techniques, and program evaluation. Prerequisite: SPED 5860 or permission of the advisor.

SPED 5270 Advocating for Persons with Disabilities (3)

Students examine the role of teachers, parents, and professionals in advocating for appropriate services for persons with disabilities. Special emphasis is on the parent-professional relationship, civil rights, due process, participation in educational planning, and advocating for fuller inclusion. Must be completed with a grade of B or better. 

SPED 5275 Reflective Teaching and Mentoring (3)

This course will explore a variety of topics in special education that help build the capacity of special educators to become reflective practitioners, teacher leaders, advocates and mentors in the field of special education. Coaching, mentoring, collaboration, collegial relationship building and teacher leadership will be explored to advance the student's own professional practice and the profession. Research will be presented with ethical dilemmas and other difficult situations surrounding students with disabilities and strategies to prevent or resolve issues will be discussed and explored. Students will learn about the foundations of professional and ethical behavior needed to ensure a high quality of practice in special education. This course uses and is aligned with the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) Standards and Code of Ethics.

SPED 5285 Understanding and Responding to Trauma in Schools (3)

This course increases student's awareness and understanding of trauma, increasing their knowledge to create a trauma-sensitive environment. This course will introduce students to the impact of trauma or stress on the brain and how it effects a student's ability to function in the school environment. This course will focus on helping professionals understand the impact of trauma and stress on both students and staff. This training is designed to support professionals in becoming more trauma informed, resulting in reduced stress in the classroom; increased student time in class; decreased suspensions and behavioral referrals; and increased empathy for students and families. This seminar is based on the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT), developed by Dr. Bruce Perry and the Child Trauma Academy.

SPED 5290 Co-Teaching and Collaborative Practices for the 21st Century Classroom (3)

This course focuses on co-teaching methods, professional collaboration, including teachers working together as well as students working together. Participants will learn to use the six types of co-teaching approaches, a variety of collaborative structures, effective collaboration and cooperative teaching techniques, problem solving methods, effective communication and negotiation techniques and devices for enhancing content and learning. The course is designed for general and special education teachers, reading specialists, ELL teachers, corporate trainers who have to co-teach, as well as other educational professionals, who co-teach, serve on problem-solving teams and consult in schools.

SPED 5311 Assessment of Functional Skills for Students with Severe Developmental Disabilities and Autism (3)

This course examines the use of standardized and ecologically based assessments in all areas of skill development. Coursework includes the opportunity to examine and use a number of different assessments designed for students with severe developmental disabilities and autism.

SPED 5312 Curriculum and Methods of Teaching Students with Severe Developmental Disabilities and Autism (3)

This course examines the development and implementation of chronologically age-appropriate functional curriculum for students with severe developmental disabilities or autism in integrated settings. Curriculum and instructional strategies in the areas of domestic skills, vocational skills, leisure skills, and community access skills are covered as well as skills in the embedded areas of communication, social, motor, and functional academics.

SPED 5313 Augmentative and Alternative Communication for Students with SDD and Autism (3)

This course introduces strategies for enhancing the functional communication skills of students with severe developmental disabilities or autism. The use of aided and non-aided augmentative strategies are addressed as well as alternative communication systems with an emphasis on using a multi-modality approach.

SPED 5314 Children and Youth with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders (3)

This course examines current knowledge and theory of the educational, sociocultural, psychological, and biological factors that influence children and youth with, or at risk for, emotional and behavioral disorders. The course content focuses on current issues and practices regarding characteristics, identification, and assessment procedures specific to this population of students with disabilities.

SPED 5315 Identification and Assessment of Children with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders (3)

This course examines current knowledge and theory of the educational, sociocultural, psychological and biological factors that influence the developmental pathways of children and youth with, or at risk for, emotional and behavioral disorders. Students investigate the identifying characteristics of the spectrum of internalizing and externalizing disorders, and explore a variety of behavioral and psychoeducational assessment techniques that are relevant to the evaluation of children and youth with suspected emotional and behavioral disorders. 

SPED 5316 Instructional Methods for Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders (3)

Focuses on educational programming of students with emotional and behavioral disorders including IEP development, instructional techniques, curricular modifications, scheduling, classroom management tactics, individual behavior management plans, and psychoeducational strategies. Prerequisite: SPED 5240.

SPED 5317 Psychoeducational Interventions, Curriculum, and Strategies for Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders (3)

This course focuses on educational programming of students with emotional and behavioral disorders including IEP development, instructional techniques and strategies, curricular modifications, and psychoeducational and cognitive-behavioral interventions applicable to students with emotional and behavioral disorders. Intervention strategies include mindfulness and yoga, life space intervention, group meetings, bibliotherapy and mutual storytelling, self-management, rational emotive therapy and education, stress inoculation, anger control and self-instructional training.

SPED 5318 Global Issues in Special Education (2-3)

This required course will introduce students to current issues in special education on a global level. Students select and explore a current issue in special education, based on a focused review of published literature. Examples of issues may include: inclusion, discipline, identification and classification, national assessments, curriculum standards. International perspectives to the selected issue are researched using published literature and reports, electronic contacts and the internet. Students are expected to culminate their coursework by developing a reflective plan for further specialization in their graduate studies. Must be completed with a grade of B or better. 

SPED 5319 Disability and Ethics (3)

This course explores the topic of ethics and  professional conduct in situations involving persons with disability. Modern moral philosophical theories will be reviewed and applied to specific cases. Both margin of life issues and quality of life issues are discussed. Codes of ethics promulgated by American Psychological Association, Council for Exceptional Children, and the Behavior Analyst Certification Board are studied, through comparative analysis of case studies.

SPED 5330 Legal Issues in Special Education (3)

Students review the laws governing special education at the federal and state levels. The course covers the interpretive framework encompassing recent judicial decisions that emphasize inclusion.

SPED 5331 Working with Difficult Students (3)

This course focuses on students who are difficult to teach, “inflexible and explosive” (Greene, 2005). Students examine the characteristics and features of students with disruptive behavior disorders, such as oppositional disorders, conduct disorders, and attentional disorders. Students read professional literature, review case studies, interview professionals and family members who are familiar with these youngsters, survey intervention approaches, and summarize findings into class presentations.

SPED 5350 Enhancing Self-Regulated Learning and Social Competency for Students with Exceptionalities (3)

This course examines the theoretical interrelationship between metacognition, executive function and self-competency in the development of self-regulated learning. Assessment tools for identifying student strengths and areas of need related to self-regulated learning as well as strategies for developing students' skills in goal setting, planning, organizing, problem solving, remembering, self-monitoring, emotional self-regulating and social competency are explored. Curricula on learning strategies and social skills are explored. 

SPED 5380 Methods for Students with Mild/Moderate Disabilities I (3)

This course is designed to prepare the teachers of students with mild/moderate learning disabilities, behavior disorders, mental retardation, and physical and other health impairments to develop instructional strategies and curricula to provide an effective program in a range of placement settings, with an emphasis on inclusive placements. It emphasizes a metacognitive approach to instruction based on the functional analysis of the learning behaviors. It focuses on team model of planning and delivery, including the parents, regular education teachers and administrators, and support specialists. Prerequisite: SPED 5240.

SPED 5381 Methods for Students with Mild/Moderate Disabilities II (3)

This course introduces pre-service special education teachers to the curriculum, organizational strategies, and instructional techniques appropriate to the needs of students with mild/moderate disabilities, with a focus in the content areas of physical education, health, art, music, science, child and adolescent literature and social studies (government, geography, and economics). It emphasizes the use of technology in adapting the general education curriculum based on a functional assessment of the curriculum and learner behavior. The course emphasizes team planning and delivery, including parents, regular education teachers, administrators, and support specialists. Prerequisite: SPED 5860 or permission of the advisor.

SPED 5410 In-Service Topics (1-3)

In-service courses are designed to provide degree-seeking students with practical applications of contemporary research and methodology to improve classroom effectiveness. These courses have been approved for the program with prior approval of the student's advisor. May be repeated for credit if content differs.

SPED 5413 Intensive Academic Intervention (3)

This course is designed to present information on the process of intensive academic intervention, which helps students with severe and persistent learning needs. The course will help prepare teachers to become competent in the use of data-based individualization, which involves the systematic use of assessment data, selection and implementation of validated interventions, and use of research-based adaptation strategies as needed. This course surveys the practical and theoretical issues relating to assessment within the classroom. Curriculum-based Measurement (CBM) methodologies will be explored through direct implementation of the tools. Upon completion, students should have a broad knowledge base regarding principles of sound assessment and intervention selection. The class will emphasize formats for problem solving and decision-making based upon the individual needs of students.  

SPED 5414 Children and Youth with Learning and Academic Disorders (3)

This course examines current knowledge and theory of the educational, sociocultural, psychological, and biological factors that influence children and youth with, or at risk for, academic disorders. The course content focuses on current issues and practices regarding characteristics, identification, and placements specific to this population of students with learning disabilities or mental retardation.

SPED 5480 Learning and Behavior Problems in the Classroom (3)

This course updates classroom teachers on effective teaching practices and strategies designed specifically for students with learning and behavior problems. Focus is placed on strategies that enhance the success of all students in the regular education setting, including elementary, middle, and high school.

SPED 5500 Socioemotional Development: Children with Special Needs (3)

This course addresses the implications of theories and research in the areas of social and emotional development of children with special needs. Students explore the relationship between cognitive development and social and emotional development. Emphasis is placed on investigation of environments and interactions that foster trust, self-regulation, self-esteem, social competence, and interdependence. Must be completed with a grade of B or better. 

SPED 5660 Cognitive Development: Children with Special Needs (3)

This course focuses on the implications of current research in the area of cognitive development and learning theory on the education of children with special learning characteristics. Students examine advances in research on metacognition, executive control strategies, and psycholinguistics, and explore applications to individualized education.

SPED 5700 Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (3)

Education is changing, due to the implementation of multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) procedures within our schools. MTSS is the practice of providing high quality instruction and interventions matched to student need, monitoring progress frequently to make decisions about changes in instruction or goals and applying child response data to important educational decisions. Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is a proactive approach to promote positive behaviors and school safety. Response to Intervention (RTI) focuses more on academic screening, intervention and monitoring. The emphasis of this course is the understanding of the RTI/PBIS procedures and the various applications of RTI/PBIS within schools and individual classrooms, as well as an introduction to tier 1 academic instruction (core curriculum).

SPED 5701 Universal School-Wide PBIS (3)

This introduction to the concepts and processes of Positive Behavioral Interventions Supports (PBIS) will focus on school-wide implementation (tier 1 behavior). School-wide implementation includes understanding roles and functions of the PBIS Universal Team, action planning for sustainable practices, data collection systems and tools, and the process for aggregating and analyzing data for decision making and action planning. Additionally, this course will provide an overview of the elements of school, family and community partnerships in relation to PBIS implementation, with an emphasis on proactive systems change that involves district, school, classroom and individual student. 

SPED 5702 Secondary Targeted Group Interventions (3)

Secondary Prevention is designed for use in schools where there are students who are at risk of chronic problem behavior, or academic challenges but for whom high intensity interventions are not essential. In this course, students will learn about different secondary prevention interventions (tier 2 academics and behavior), how to determine who needs secondary level interventions, how to implement them and how to measure progress, fidelity and social validity.

SPED 5703 Functional Behavior Assessment and Intervention (3)

This course is designed to introduce students the history of challenging behavior, the basis of functional behavior assessment (FBA) and its role in the intervention and prevention of challenging behavior. Further, the course provides a thorough coverage of (1) how to conduct an FBA through various assessment methods, (2) how to identify the function of challenging behaviors, and (3) how to develop behavioral interventions based on the identified behavioral function. Prerequisite: SPED 5700 or SPED 5901.

SPED 5704 Systems Leadership: Staff Development & Coaching (3)

The purpose of this class is to give the tools necessary to implement school-wide PBIS or any research-based classroom management practices through presentations and coaching. The role of the coach is to provide collaborative and non-evaluative communication and feedback to teachers by creating a positive climate and common purpose among teachers and students. Prospective coaches will learn the skills of active listening, pausing, paraphrasing, and asking meditative questions. Additionally, students will learn how to plan, implement, and evaluate staff development.

SPED 5800 Applied Research Methods (3)

This is an introductory course in educational research methodology. Basic concepts of measurement, experimental and quasi-experimental research design, strategies of qualitative and quantitative research, data collections and analysis, and basic statistical procedures are introduced. This course enables students to read, interpret, evaluate, and plan educational and psychological research. Students learn to write a research proposal and complete a request for approval from Webster University’s Institutional Review Board (IRB). Must be completed with a grade of B or better. 

SPED 5830 Evaluation (3)

This course is designed for all educators who wish to explore the importance of formal and informal evaluation procedures as related to the instructor in the classroom. Evaluation will review the concepts of assessment and measurement, study curriculum-based evaluation, teaching and decision making, and explore issues such as national standards, functional curriculum and behavior assessments, and social/cultural transformations in education as related to the ethics of evaluations.

SPED 5850 Single-Subject Research Design (3)

This is a graduate level course that is designed to provide an in-depth study of single-subject research design. It includes a comprehensive overview of behavioral measurement, different types of single-subject research design and methods of data analysis. It also explains how single-subject research design serves as a framework that enables educators, clinicians and researchers to (1) demonstrate a functional relation between interventions and changes in behaviors, and to (2) evaluate the effectiveness of behavioral interventions. Further, the course provides graduate students with an opportunity to design a hypothetical research project using single-subject research methodology. Must be completed with a grade of B or better. Prerequisite: SPED 5901 or SPED 5318.

SPED 5860 Psychology of the Exceptional Student (3)

This course focuses on students gaining an understanding of the abilities and disabilities of children who are commonly identified as exceptional or handicapped. Attention is given to the psychological and educational needs of these children and the instructional organization employed to meet such needs.

SPED 5880 Integrating Resources: Community, School, and Family (3)

This course is designed to help students identify changing family and community structures, patterns, and relationships. Students determine how these influence children and their educational needs. Methods of assessing family needs and interests, identifying and utilizing community resources, and responding to family needs through education and partnerships are addressed as well as models of consultation and case management in regard to children and families with special needs. They explore and simulate techniques for interacting with parents, and they examine collaboration strategies for interdisciplinary team efforts. Must be completed with a grade of B or better. 

SPED 5890 Introduction to Applied Behavior Analysis (3)

This is a graduate-level course that provides a thorough introduction of applied behavior analysis (ABA) as (1) a science that has its deep root in the early work of Thorndyke, Hull, Pavlov, Watson and Skinner on respondent and operant conditioning, and as (2) a practice that uses behavioral technology to improve socially significant behaviors for individuals with disabilities as well as to understand any analyze human behaviors in general. This course serves as the first course in a series of seven BACB verified courses for students in the special education (MA) with an emphasis in applied behavior analysis and the applied behavior analysis (advanced graduate certificate). 

SPED 5900 Concepts and Principles of Behavior Analysis (3)

This is a graduate level course that is designed to assist students in developing an accurate understanding of the science of Behavior Analysis. Specifically, this course introduces (a) the basic concepts and principles underpinning Applied Behavior Analysis; (b) behavior measurements; (c) reinforcement and punishment; (d) schedules of reinforcement; (e) motivation operation; (f) stimulus control, and (g) functional behavior assessment. 

SPED 5901 Behavior Change Procedures (3)

This graduate level course expands on the basic concepts and principles of Applied Behavior Analysis and covers the established behavior change procedures that have been used to (1) develop new behavior and (2) decrease behavior with non punishment methods. These procedures include imitation, shaping, chaining, extinction, antecedent-based interventions, differential reinforcement. Further, the course discusses how to use Skinner's analysis to teach verbal behavior, different contingency plans, self-management, and generalization and maintenance of behavior change. Prerequisite: SPED 5900.

SPED 5902 Supervision and Staff Performance (3)

This graduate level course is designed to provide students who are pursuing BCBA certification with the knowledge and skills required for effective supervision. Based on the BACB Supervisor Training task list, the course covers (1) the purpose of supervision; (2) features of supervision; (3) behavior skills training (BST); (4) performance feedback delivery; (5) supervision evaluation. Additionally, the course discusses how effective supervision could be helpful for making data-based decisions about the need for behavior intervention revision, and for providing ongoing services to individuals with disabilities. Prerequisite: SPED 5703.

SPED 5903 Ethics and Professional Issues in Applied Behavior Analysis (3)

This graduate level course covers the origins of ethical codes and specific issues in ethics related to professional conduct in applied behavior analysis. Specifically, the course discusses the responsibility of behavior analysts to clients (e.g., consent, confidentiality, conflict of interest), to behavior assessments and behavior change programs, to supervisees, to the ABA field and to society. The course content is based on the specific code listed in the Professional and Ethical Compliance Code for Behavior Analyst. This course serve as the last course in the series of seven courses for students in the special education (MA) with an emphasis in applied behavior analysis and the applied behavior analysis (advanced graduate certificate).Must be completed with a grade of B or better. Prerequisite: SPED 5902.

SPED 6000 Applied Field Research (1-6)

This course offers students an opportunity to engage in applied research and inquiry in order to evaluate and improve curriculum, instructional strategies and programs/services for students with disabilities. Students are encouraged to examine and reflect on typical evidence-based practices in the classroom or ones' work environment. Students may choose to conduct systematic field observations, action research, program evaluation, a behavior analytic intervention, and educational curriculum, or conduct a meta-analysis of research literature on a special education or ABA-related topic. Depending on the nature of the project, students may be required to submit a proposal the Webster University Institutional Review Board. Students are expected to work independently, with the guidance from the instructor of record and/or mentor. Students may register for a minimum of one credit, up to a maximum of six credits, depending on the extent and scope of the field research. Students considering graduate study at the doctoral level are encouraged to complete 6 credits of field research. Must be completed with a grade of B or better. Prerequisite: SPED 5800 or SPED 5850.

SPED 6250 Thesis (6)

The student completes a thesis project under the supervision of two faculty members. The thesis option is recommended for those considering graduate study at the doctoral level. All theses must follow university guidelines and be deposited in the Webster University library. Must be completed with a grade of B or better. Prerequisite: SPED 5800.