Department of Special Education
309 Recitation Hall
Corinne Murphy, Chairperson
PROFESSORS: McGinley, Wandry
ASSOCIATE PROFESSORS: Doan, Guerriero, Murphy, Verden
ASSISTANT PROFESSORS: Adera, Hicks, Houser, Schofield, Williams
The Department of Special Education stands out in the southeastern Pennsylvania and the tri-state region with its extensive early practicum experiences for its students; professionally diverse faculty; a high rate of employment opportunities; a heightened sense of collegiality and volunteerism among its students; and national (Council for Exceptional Children, National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education), regional (Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools), and state (Pennsylvania Department of Education [PDE]) approvals, recognition, and accreditations.
The faculty is committed to supporting the development of teachers who acquire the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to construct effective, high-quality educational programs for children with disabilities. The mission is to foster knowledgeable, passionate, competent, and reflective graduates who will serve as eloquent, articulate advocates for all children, families, and special education professionals. This program provides students with field placement and experience in the same block of courses where they are concurrently learning characteristics, teaching methods, application, and theory. These placements give students an opportunity to reflect and question what they observe and experience in these settings, which is vital to the success of integrating theory and practice.
The field experiences in private or public schools are designed to give students first-hand opportunities with children in high-incidence and low-incidence settings. The course work taken concurrently provides students with the theory and research necessary to become effective teachers.
The Department of Special Education offers two programs of study leading to certification at the PreK–8 or the 7–12 level. Students seeking certification in special education must be enrolled in another teacher certification content area.
The B.S.Ed. – SPECIAL EDUCATION: PreK-8 (dual major with PreK-4) will give students special education certification at the PreK-8 level and certification in early grades preparation (PreK-4).
The B.S.Ed. – SPECIAL EDUCATION: 7–12 (dual major with secondary content certification) will give students special education certification at the 7-12 level as well as certification in a secondary content area, including biology, chemistry, earth and space science, English (literature or writing), general science, mathematics, and physics.
The eight available dual certification programs of study are generally described below in terms of course credit requirements. Required special education courses are consistent across programs and are described later in this section. General education requirement areas also are consistent across majors, include requirements in the arts, humanities, social sciences, and sciences, and are described on pages 38-44 . However, each content area may have different requirements for general and professional core courses, so students should contact individual departments for program-specific information.
Upon completion of the program, the student will qualify for a Pennsylvania Instructional I Certificate in both areas of their dual course of study, which is valid for six years of teaching.
Requirements for B.S.Ed. Programs
In order to be eligible for graduation, an undergraduate student must satisfactorily complete the following requirements:
- 135 credits for the B.S.Ed. – special education/early grades preparation; 148 credits for the B.S.Ed. – special education/middle grades preparation; and 136–154 credits for the B.S.Ed. – special education/secondary (dual program content area) or B.S.Ed. – special education/B.A. in history (dual degrees)
- Formal admission to teacher education (see below)
- Minimum GPA of 3.0
- PECT examinations relevant to each area of the chosen dual major/dual degrees noted above, which would grant teacher certification in both special education and the selected dual program
BACHELOR OF SCIENCE IN EDUCATION – SPECIAL EDUCATION: PreK-8
(135-148 semester hours)
- General ed. requirements, see pages 38-44 (48 semester hours)
See page 84 for Early Grades PreK-4 or Middle Grades 4-8
- Special education
EDA 103, 203+ 314*, 321*+, 361*, 413*, 421*+, 429*, 416*+ or 417*+
- See PreK-4 or 4-8 program for other requirements
+ Child abuse clearance, criminal record check, FBI fingerprinting, and TB testing
* Formal admission to teacher education (FATE)
BACHELOR OF SCIENCE IN EDUCATION – SPECIAL EDUCATION: 7-12
(136-154 semester hours)
- General ed. requirements, 48 semester hours
see applicable secondary program
- Special education
EDA 103, 203+, 314*, 321*+, 361*, 414*, 416*+ or 417*+, 421*+, 429*
- See secondary education programs for other requirements
(biology, chemistry, earth and space science, English, general science, history, mathematics, physics)
+ Child abuse clearance, criminal record check, FBI fingerprinting, and TB testing
* Formal admission to teacher education (FATE)
Students must receive a C or better in all special education and supporting courses, maintain a 2.80 GPA, and achieve a GPA of 3.0 to be eligible for certification.
Note: The following program is for students who must receive certification prior to August 2013. No new students are being admitted into this program.
Admission to Special Education Degree Programs
For formal admission to the special education degree program, see pages 91-92 in the Educator Preparation Programs section of this catalog.
Requirements for Transfer to the Majors in Special Education
All internal and external transfer students who wish to major in special education must also declare a dual major in early grades preparation, middle grades preparation, or a 7-12 content area (as noted above in “Dual Programs of Study”). Specifically, students seeking certification at the special education PreK-8 level must simultaneously obtain an additional certification in early grades preparation (PreK-4) or middle grades preparation (4-8). Students seeking special education certification at the 7-12 level must simultaneously obtain an additional certification in a secondary content area. These students must secure the signatures from the chair of the Department of Special Education as well as the chair of the department in which the desired dual major program resides.
Students may apply for “external transfer” when transferring from another post-secondary institution. Students already admitted to West Chester University as premajors or in another major may apply for “internal transfer.” Students seeking external or internal transfer must have a minimum of 12 college-level credits. Students with 12-47 credits must also have a minimum GPA of 2.65. The required minimum cumulative GPA for students with 48-59 earned credits is 2.80. Students with 60 or more earned credits must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.80; must have achieved passing scores on either the PPST (if testing was started prior to April 2, 2012) or the PAPA; and must have completed college-level studies in English composition (three credits), literature taught in English (three credits), and mathematics (six credits). External or internal transfer to the major in special education does not represent or confer formal admission to teacher education (See “Formal Admission to Teacher Education” on pages 91-92.)
INTERNAL TRANSFER STUDENTS: Students should call the department regarding admission at the beginning of each semester for dates and details regarding internal transfer.
EXTERNAL TRANSFER STUDENTS: Transfer credit may be granted for 100- and 200- level courses if the course descriptions are equivalent and in accordance with University policy. All other required courses in the professional education and specialized preparations areas will be evaluated and approved on an individual basis.
In addition to the general requirements for formal admission to teacher education, B.S.Ed. candidates who are admitted to the major in special education must also complete 20 hours of preapproved, unpaid community service for agencies/organizations serving children and/or youth and/or adults with special needs and/or families (at least ten of these hours must be provided in one setting); and (2) a written reflection that has been assessed as satisfactory on how this service has influenced their development as teachers. The nature of the service must provide a direct, concrete benefit to the population(s) an agency/organization serves. The hours that candidates devote to this community service requirement may not also be used to fulfill any requirement for a credit-bearing course.
Application and Approval for Student Teaching
Students must apply through the Office of Field Placements and Student Teaching, FHG Library 251, for approval for student teaching placements. Prerequisites for student teaching include the following:
- Formal admission to teacher education
- 96 credits, including all professional educational courses and all specialized preparation courses with necessary grade prerequisites, with a cumulative GPA of 2.8
- Completion of the following forms: student teaching application, child abuse history clearance form, request for criminal record check, FBI records check, and a TB test. Students should allow enough time to receive responses for clearance. All clearance forms are valid for one year, except the TB test, which is valid for the duration of attendance at WCU but must be administered within three months prior to entering the initial field placement.
The application for student teaching must be filed within one full year prior to the academic semester in which student teaching is to be scheduled. Application meetings will be announced at the beginning of the fall semester each year. Students register for student teaching as they would for any other University courses.
Field Placement in Schools
All field placements, including student teaching, are arranged by the department. Students are not to solicit placements. While student needs are considered in assigning placements, no particular placement can be guaranteed. Transportation to and from field placements is the responsibility of the individual student.
West Chester University does not place students at religiously affiliated schools when public schools are available for a student teaching experience. In addition, the University will make every attempt to first place students into public (vs. private) schools for student teaching and related activities. Further, students will not be assigned student teaching or other related duties at nonsectarian private schools or agencies unless they specifically request such placement. Each request will be considered individually to ensure that the private entity does not receive special benefit from the arrangement that outweighs the benefit to the University and its students.
Since current trends, enforced by recent litigation, have increased the need for a general understanding of the individuals with disabilities in our culture, the department also offers a new minor in special education, which is designed to introduce students to individuals with disabilities through course work and field experiences. This new minor will be replacing the former minor, also listed below, which will not be admitting students after fall 2010. Students who desire admission to the minor in special education must have achieved the minimum cumulative GPA required for their earned credits: 2.65 for students with 12-47 credits, and 2.80 for students with 48 or more credits. Students admitted to this minor must maintain that minimum cumulative GPA in order to continue. Students who fall below the minimum cumulative GPA required are permitted to retake, in accordance with University policy, course work in the minor that contributed to their fall below the minimum required GPA. Such students will not be permitted to take additional course work in the minor until they achieve the minimum cumulative GPA.
These minors do not lead to Instructional I teacher certification by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
Minor in Autism Education (18 semester hours)The minor in autism education is an 18-credit program designed to provide students knowledge of, and the opportunity to demonstrate competencies related to, research-based assessment, intervention, instruction, and program management for persons with autism in PreK-12 settings. The minor is applicable for future professionals serving students with autism across age/grade levels (preschool through completion of high school) and various ranges of functioning. The need for professionals with working knowledge of autism continues to grow as the prevalence for individuals with autism continues to increase.
- Foundation (3-6 semester hours)
EDA 103; or KIN 205 and 206
- Core (12 semester hours)
EDA 175, 275, 375, 475
- Electives (0-3 semester hours)
EDA 203, 304; KIN 205, 206; LAN/ENG 382; MDA 220; PSY 100, 327, 421; SPP 101, 110
Minor in Special Education (18 semester hours)
EDA 103, 203, 314, 361, 421
103 Foundations of Special Education (3) This course is designed to acquaint the prospective teacher with the historical legal evolution of the field, as well as the characteristics of individuals with disabilities. Open to all teacher education majors; satisfies special education major/minor and Chapter 49.13 requirements
104 Introduction to Special Education (6) This course is designed to acquaint the prospective special education teacher with the historical and legal evolution of the field, as well as the characteristics of individuals with high- and low-incidence disabilities with a focus on mental retardation, emotional disturbance, learning disabilities, and physical and other health impairments. In addition, this course is designed to have the prospective teacher observe and reflect upon the characteristics of these students with disabilities within the context of school and clinical settings. The content will focus on issues relative to special education in a diverse society and will rely heavily on reflective teaching and learning. PREREQ: Sophomore status – minimum of 27 credits earned.
175 Introduction to Autism: Characteristics and Etiology (3) This course is designed to inform students about the characteristics and etiology of autism. Students will complete observations of individuals with autism in multiple school- and community-based settings. PREREQ: EDA 103; or KIN 205 and 206; and field clearances.
195 Workshop (1-3) Intensive examination of a selected area of study in the field of special education. Topics will be announced in advance. This course may be taken again for credit.
203 Field: Students with Exceptionalities (3) This course is designed to have the prospective teacher observe and reflect upon the characteristics of students with disabilities within the context of school and clinical settings. The content will focus on issues relative to special education in a diverse society and will rely heavily on reflective teaching and learning. PREREQ: EDA 103, field clearances. Open to special education majors/minors only
212 Understanding Disability Through Cultural Perspectives (3) This course will provide students with a general introduction to social justice theory, human rights issues, and social constructs surrounding disability on a global scale. Content will include perspectives of individuals with disabilities and will be delivered through a multimedia format. This course is designed for any student who is interested in learning more about disability within the context of today’s society.
230 Inclusive Classrooms (3) This course prepares preservice early childhood, elementary, and special education students to teach students with disabilities effectively in general education settings. The course will be co-taught by special education and early childhood education faculty. Crosslisted course. Students may not take both courses for credit. Diverse communities course.
250 Inclusive Practices in Music Education (1) Designed to acquaint music educators with the philosophy of inclusive education and provide them with skills to accommodate students with disabilities in music classes (for music educators only).
275 Autism: Families, Interagency, and Community Collaboration (3) This course is designed to foster professional relationships between future service providers and families that are supporting an individual with autism and make those relationships meaningful, cooperative, and productive. PREREQ: EDA 175; field clearances.
280 Integrating the Arts (3) Fine art, music, puppetry, and dance are combined as creative processes to be adapted for use with children with disabilities. This course can be used to fulfill general education requirements.
302 Field Experience and Seminar: Diverse Populations in the Urban Environment (3) A weekly one-and-a-half-hour seminar and three-hour field placement with individuals with high-incidence disabilities. This course will be taken the same semester as EDA 350 and EDA 360. The goal is to experience inclusive classrooms, with culturally diverse populations, implementing best practices for teaching all children integrating theory and practice. The reading and discussions will focus on special education in a diverse society and will include reflective teaching and the reflective teaching model. COREQ: EDA 350 and 360, EDP 351. Writing emphasis course
303 Special Ed: Processes/Procedure for General Educators (2) The purpose of this course is to prepare preservice students to teach students with disabilities effectively in general education settings. PREREQ: EDA 350 and formal admission to teacher education. Crosslisted course. Students may not take both courses for credit.
304 Special Education Processes and Procedures for Secondary Education (3) This course prepares pre-service students to teach students with disabilities effectively in secondary general education settings. PREREQ: EDA 103, EDP 250, and field clearances.
307 Families and Special Education (3) This course helps preservice teachers foster family-professional relationships that are meaningful, cooperative, and productive. Roles that parents have played in the education of children with disabilities will be emphasized. Involvement of families of individuals with disabilities is essential for the person’s education and well-being, and is necessary from a legal perspective. A study of the family allows the prospective teacher to know best how to work with diverse families of children with disabilities, and within family systems. PREREQ: EDA 104 and formal admission to teacher education. Writing emphasis course
314 Curriculum and Instruction for Individual Learning Differences I (3) This course is designed to prepare students to assist children with disabilities achieve skills in academics and functional life domains. Emphasis is placed on understanding and analysis of learning problems, and the design and planning of instructional interventions. Open to special education majors/minors only
320 Behavior Management (3) This course is an exploration of current practices in behavior management with emphasis on teacher-delivered systems. PREREQ: EDA 104. COREQ: EDA 347.
321 Behavior Management and Field Experience (6) This course is an exploration of current practices in behavior management with emphasis on teacher-delivered systems. It includes a field placement in a school where students will assess and develop interventions for a child with behavioral challenges. PREREQ: EDA 103, 203 and field clearances.
341 Inclusion and Reading in the Content Area (3) This course is co-taught by special education and literacy faculty. It will help prepare secondary education and special education majors to teach all students effectively, including those with disabilities in general-education, content-specific settings. Practical guidelines, content literacy strategies, and adaptations will be emphasized to prepare pre-educators to meet the academic social, and affective needs of all students in the inclusive secondary classroom. PREREQ: EDF 300 or HON 312, and EDP 250. Diverse communities course
347 Low-Incidence Methods and Field (6) This course is designed to prepare students to teach children with low-incidence (severe) disabilities. It provides an understanding of assessment, curriculum, and instructional strategies unique for students with severe disabilities. It includes a three-hour field placement in a school program for students with severe disabilities. Time is devoted in the on-campus classroom for a seminar enabling students to discuss and process their field experiences. PREREQ: EDA 104. COREQ: EDA 320.
350 Methods for High-Incidence Disabilities (3) This course is designed to prepare students to assist children with high-incidence disabilities (mild disabilities) achieve skills and appropriate behaviors through their life span age of five through 21. Emphasis is placed on understanding and analysis of learning problems, and the design and implementation of instructional interventions in primary and secondary academics – reading, language arts, mathematics, other content areas, and social skills. PREREQ: EDA 104. COREQ: EDA 302 and 360; EDP 351; and formal admission to teacher education.
360 Assessment in Special Education (3) This course is designed to introduce students to instructional assessment in special education and the development of relevant education plans to meet federal regulations. PREREQ: EDA 104. COREQ: EDA 302 and 350; EDP 351; and formal admission to teacher education.
361 Assessment and Special Education (3) This course is designed to introduce students to instructional assessment in special education and the development of relevant education plans to meet federal regulations. PREREQ: EDA 103 and 203, formal admission to teacher education. COREQ: EDA 314. Open to special education majors/minors only
375 Autism Studies: Assessment and Instruction I (3) This course is designed to inform students about assessment and instructional planning for individuals with autism. Emphasis will be placed on students’ demonstration of planning for and implementing assessments across the range of domains including behavior. PREREQ: EDA 175; current field clearances.
380 Life Transitions With Individuals With Disabilities (3) This course is a study of life-span issues for individuals with disabilities. It stresses curriculum content and instructional strategies that are sensitive to human diversity and promote career development and transition. PREREQ: EDA 104, 320, 347 or EDA 302, 350, 360, and formal admission to teacher education.
410 Independent Study (1-3) Special topics or projects initiated by the student that will enable her or him to do extensive and intensive study in an area of special education. PREREQ: Permission of chairperson. This course may be taken again for credit
413 PreK-8 Aspects of Transitions (3) This course will address support structures that serve students with disabilities as they transition from homebound to, and throughout, K-8 school-based instruction, stressing legislative foundations, interagency linkages, school partnerships, referral processes, and systems of service delivery. The teacher practitioner as change agent will be an underlying theme. PREREQ: EDA 103 and 203, formal admission to teacher education. Open to special education majors only
414 Secondary Career Development and Transition (3) This course will address support structures that serve students with disabilities as they transition from middle to high school and to adult life, stressing legislative foundations, interagency linkages, school partnerships, referral processes, and systems of service delivery. The teacher practitioner as change agent will be an underlying theme. PREREQ: EDA 103 and 203, formal admission to teacher education. Open to special education majors only
416 Student Teaching (6) Participation in teaching and all other activities in the student teaching role related to the teacher’s work. PREREQ: Formal admission to teacher education and Pennsylvania-mandated GPA, 90 semester hours including all professional education courses, and all specialized preparation courses with standards as shown above (*). Students must have completed and provided an ETS score report that they took the PECT test(s) in the subject area where the candidates are enrolled to achieve certification.
417 Student Teaching (6) See EDA 416 for description and requirements.
421 Curriculum and Instruction for Individual Learning Differences II and Field (6) This course is designed to support students in the research, development, and implementation of instruction for students with disabilities. Emphasis is placed on demonstration and implementation of appropriate curriculum and materials for the individual student with disabilities, with particular emphasis on life skills and academic abilities, including reading, written language, and mathematics. PREREQ: EDA 314 and 361, formal admission to teacher education. Open to special education majors/minors only
429 Communication Development and Assistive Technologies for Students with Disabilities This course will provide a broad overview of normal and atypical communication development. Importance will be given to communication disorders, characteristics of students with disabilities, and the impact of high and low level technology. PREREQ: EDA 103 and 203, formal admission to teacher education. Open to special education majors only
475 Autism Studies: Assessment and Instruction II (3) Students will use the science of applied behavior analysis to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of current instructional strategies for students with autism. Students will demonstrate evidence-based instructional strategies and apply these strategies in field settings supporting individuals with autism. PREREQ: EDA 375; field clearances.