2015-16 Undergraduate and Graduate Catalogs

Department of Special Education

Dr. Greg Sampson

Special Education Program Mission

MSU’s special education program: 1) provides exemplary learning experiences to prospective and practicing educators; 2) provides technical assistance and services to schools, families, and agencies; 3) disseminates current and relevant information to state and local agencies; and 4) conducts credible, practical research.

Students who complete one of MSU’s special education programs will be reflective decision makers who provide exemplary educational services to people with disabilities.

Special Education Department Goals and Outcomes

The Department’s goals and outcomes are aligned with the national Council for Exceptional Children standards and practices for professional development.

Goal Outcome
Prepare professional personnel to teach children and adults with disabilities.Students will describe the philosophical, historical and legal foundations of special education.
Render community service to children and adults with disabilities through testing, clinical program and consultation.Students will describe the characteristics of learners with and without disabilities.
Assist teachers, administrators and parents to understand and improve the lives of individuals having special needs.Students will demonstrate appropriate assessment, diagnosis and evaluation procedures and strategies for individuals with disabilities.
Students will use appropriate instructional content and practices for individuals with disabilities.
Students will plan and manage the teaching and learning environment for individuals with disabilities.
Students will manage learner behavior and social interactions.
Students will engage in and facilitate appropriate communication and collaborative partnerships.
Students will demonstrate professional and ethical practices.

Admission to Teacher Education

All students completing a BSEd in Special Education must meet specific teacher education requirements prior to enrolling in Block I/II methods courses, corresponding community-based practica, and student teaching. To accomplish this, an application packet must be completed and submitted to their Special Education Advisor one semester prior to anticipated Blocks enrollment. It is then forwarded to the Department Chair and the Dean of Education and Health Sciences. The Teacher Education Administrative Council (TEAC) will review the packet and will grant or deny admission to Teacher Education prior to registration for the following semester. After admission to Teacher Education, the students may enroll in restricted education classes and in SPED practica, provided all other prerequisites are met.

Application for Teacher Education

The application packet will contain the following:

  1. Application form identifying
    1. a GPA of at least 2.50 overall for General Education (GE) requirements and,
    2. a GPA of at least 2.50 for the communications section of the GE requirements.
  2. Documentation of 20 clock hours of supervised activities with children or youth is obtained as one component of SPED 233 Experience In SPED.
  3. Two completed “Reference Forms for Admission to Teacher Education” from previous teachers/supervisors.
  4. A personal “Philosophy of Education” statement.
  5. Satisfactory Pre-Professional Skills Test (PPST) scores.
    1. Overall composite score of 516 or more
    2. Reading score of 173/170; Writing score of 173/171; and Math score of 170/169. Scores in two of the areas must meet or exceed the highest score listed. The third score may not be below the lowest score in a subject area.
  6. Evidence of completion of a Teacher Education Seminar.
  7. A completed self-assessment of CEC standards and professional dispositions.

Candidates applying for a North Dakota special education license must work with MSU and the ND Education Standards and Practices Board to complete an acceptable program of Study for the BSEd in Special Education.

Prospective student teachers in Special Education should make application for student teaching a full semester in advance of potential placement. Application materials are available from the Special Education Office, Memorial 210. Information regarding relevant deadlines may be obtained from the Special Education office, the MSU campus calendar, the MSU website, and the Red and Green. It is the responsibility of the student to follow all published deadlines. Only applications submitted by the published due dates will be considered for student teaching approval.

Criteria for Retention in Teacher Education

  1. Special Education students must maintain a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.50 in all courses within the Special Education and teacher education core. Students must receive no grade less than a “C” in any core education course. A grade below a “C” results in probation. This course grade must be replaced with a grade of “C” or higher prior to applying to student teaching.
  2. Students are expected to demonstrate the dispositions of a professional teacher as described by CEC teaching standards. Students who display inappropriate dispositions are reported to MSU faculty and/or local school district representatives. Prior to the lodging of a formal complaint regarding students’ dispositions, MSU faculty will engage in a discussion of the complaint and attempt to attain a resolution. If a resolution is not attained, a formal complaint is then filed with the chair of TEAC who will forward it to the appropriate personnel and bring it forth to TEAC for determination of appropriate futher action, such as a plan to remedy concerns, probation with a plan to remedy concerns, or removal from the program.
  3. Students must maintain continuous enrollment at MSU. Students who are not enrolled at the university for more than two consecutive semesters (excluding summer sessions) will be dropped from the Special Education major and must be recommended by their advisor for re-admittance prior to continuing with any further coursework. Students dropped from Special Education for other reasons must go through the full admissions process but will not be required to duplicate relevant items from the first admission.

Exit Requirements from the Special Education Major

  1. Successful completion of all coursework outlined by the student’s Program of Study and major department.
  2. Successful completion of student teaching.
  3. Successful completion of the Praxis II tests.
  4. Completed formal application for graduation.

Praxis Testing

Students graduating in Special Education are required to successfully complete the Praxis II test for the area of Special Education: Core Knowledge and Mild to Moderate Applications. The test code for the computerized version of the test is 0543 and the test code for the printed version of the test is 543.

Bachelor of Science in Education with a Major Special Education1

General Education
General Education Courses38
Requires two lab sciences: one each in Life and Physical Sciences.
College Algebra
US History to 1877
World Civilizations Since 1500
Introduction to Geography
World Regional Geography
Required Special Education Core
SPED 110Introduction to Exceptional Children3
SPED 120Intro to Positive Behavior Supports3
or PSY 473 Behavior Modification
SPED 141Development of Young Children2
SPED 201Applied Behavior Analysis for Teachers2
SPED 202Intro to Sensory Disabilities3
SPED 233Experience In SPED1
SPED 310Intro to Intellectual Disabilities and Autism Spectrum Disorders3
SPED 317Foundational Academics2
SPED 340Assessment in SPED 14
SPED 379Leadership in SPED3
SPED 410Introduction to High Incidence Disabilities3
SPED 420Inclusive Practices3
SPED 441Methods for High Incidence Disabilities 13
SPED 442Methods for Low Incidence Disabilities 13
SPED 444Transition to Adult Life 13
SPED 445Collaboration in Special Education3
SPED 494Practicum In Special Education4
Professional Education Sequence
Select one of the following:3
Child Psychology
Child & Adolescent Psychology
Adolescent Psychology
SS 283Ethnic and Cultural Diversity in America3
SPED 110
ED 260Educational Psychology2
ED 260LClinical I0
ED 282Managing the Learning Environment2
ED 282LClinical II0.5
ED 283Teaching Diverse Learners2
ED 284LClinical III0.5
ED 320Curriculum, Planning & Assessment I2
ED 321LClinical IV0.5
ED 322Curriculum, Planning, and Assessment II2
ED 323LClinical V0.5
ED 324LFall Experience0
ED 380Technology in Teaching 12
ED 484Student Teaching Seminar 12
ED 495Student Teaching, Special Areas 112
Total Hours120

Requires Admission to Teacher Education.

Students wishing to enroll in a double major in conjunction with the BSEd in SPED will complete all requirements of both majors as identified in the MSU undergraduate catalog.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Minor

SPED 110Introduction to Exceptional Children3
SPED 113American Sign Language I3
SPED 115American Sign Language II3
SPED 117Manually Coded English3
SPED 210Intro to Ed of Children w/DHH3
SPED 213American Sign Language III3
SPED 233Experience In SPED1
CD 321Language Development3
CD 342Introduction to Audiology4
CD 427Aural Rehabilitation3
Total Hours29

Special Education Concentration

SPED 110Introduction to Exceptional Children3
SPED 420Inclusive Practices3
Select two of the following:6
Intro to Positive Behavior Supports
Intro to Ed of Children w/DHH
Intro to Intellectual Disabilities and Autism Spectrum Disorders
Introduction to High Incidence Disabilities
Total Hours12


SPED 101. Introduction to IDD. 3 Hours.

A survey of the various types of developmental disabilities, the philosophy of service, team planning, working with families, job coaching, and legal and ethical considerations for persons with developmental disabilities.

SPED 110. Introduction to Exceptional Children. 3 Hours.

A survey course examining exceptionalities of learning with a focus on understanding current social and educational responsibilities.

SPED 111. Health Care in IDD I. 3 Hours.

TThis course concentrates on basic medication concepts and procedures, health and wellness issues, nutrition information, oral hygiene, and issues in sexuality.

SPED 112. Health Care in Developmental Disabilities II. 2 Hours.

This course focuses on the most common types of seizures and provides information on how to observe, report, and assist persons during seizures. Included also are techniques of positioning, turning, and transferring persons with physical disabilities. This course also teaches how to support independent living skills in persons with intellectual disabilities.

SPED 113. American Sign Language I. 3 Hours.

This course is designed to introduce students to American Sign Language. Students develop basic vocabulary and conversation skills. Fundamental aspects of Deaf Culture are incorporated.

SPED 115. American Sign Language II. 3 Hours.

This course is a continuation of ASL I. Students will expand vocabulary and conversation skills. Focus is on a greater understanding of ASL and its cultural features.

SPED 117. Manually Coded English. 3 Hours.

An introduction to Signing Exact English and finger spelling. A basic sign vocabulary is presented.

SPED 120. Intro to Positive Behavior Supports. 3 Hours.

This course focuses on principles of behavior; defining, recording, and charting behavior, and how to write behavioral objectives. It teaches positive behavior support strategies and how to design and implement positive behavior support plans.

SPED 130. Expanding Leisure Options IDD I. 1 Hour.

This course focuses on strategies for promoting relationships between people with developmental disabilities and other community members and steps to avoid relationship obstacles. It also describes recreation and leisure concepts, leisure assessments, factors of equipment selection, potential leisure education needs, obstacles to community recreation integration, leisure program planning, and guidelines for leisure program planning and implementation.

SPED 140. Human Development. 2 Hours.

A study of the sequence of human development from conception to late childhood, adolescence through adulthood, with emphasis on motor, language, cognitive, emotional, and social characteristics.

SPED 141. Development of Young Children. 2 Hours.

In this course, students will learn typical and atypical development of children ages birth to age five. The course includes observation of development, introduction to service delivery models, and study of best practices in intervention.

SPED 201. Applied Behavior Analysis for Teachers. 2 Hours.

Learners in this course will be introduced to best practices in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) in the classroom. In addition, students will learn preventative, supportive, and corrective behavioral strategies for individuals with both low and high incidence disabilities. Varying theoretical paradigms related to human behavior will also be explored and considered to understand student behavior.

SPED 202. Intro to Sensory Disabilities. 3 Hours.

In this introductory course in sensory disabilities, students will learn the dimensions of deaf/hard of hearing, visual impairments, and dual impairments. The content will cover the etiology of sensory disabilities that can result in additional learning challenges. In addition, historical foundations and research evidence upon which educational best practice is based for sensory disabilities is identified.

SPED 210. Intro to Ed of Children w/DHH. 3 Hours.

A foundations course which surveys the history of the education of children who are deaf or hard of hearing. An introduction to present techniques as well as historical philosophies is presented. Prerequisite: SPED 110.

SPED 213. American Sign Language III. 3 Hours.

This advanced course is a continuation of ASL I & II as a tool to enrich their vocabulary and understanding of the structure of ASL. Topics relating to Deaf Culture will be discussed throughout the course as well as opportunities to increase fluency in the language. Prerequisites: SPED 113, SPED 115.

SPED 221. Promoting Personal Outcomes. 2 Hours.

This course introduces a value-based process for developing and evaluating major program goals for persons with disabilities, the relationship of assessment to goal setting, and strategies for achieving goals and objectives.

SPED 223. Dual Diagnoses: ID and Mental Health Disorders. 1 Hour.

An overview of issues related to supporting people who experience both intellectual disability and mental health disorders including identification of the need for services, treatment options, and standards for service provision. The course provides information for program coordinators on assessment of mental health disorders, collaboration with community-based team members, pharmacological and behavior support, and cognitive behavioral therapies and approaches with individuals with intellectual disabilities.

SPED 225. Assisting People with Traumatic Brain Injury. 2 Hours.

This course provides a comprehensive overview of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and how to assist people with TBI and their families. It discusses community resources, assessment issues and strategies, as well as the role of employment consultants in working with people with TBI.

SPED 233. Experience In SPED. 1 Hour.

Through a service learning approach, students will be introduced to a diverse, vibrant, professional community working together with others to ensure that individuals with exceptionalities are valued and included in all aspects of life. Students will be exposed to leadership policy and practices.

SPED 234H. Disability and Society. 3 Hours.

This course prepares future leaders to understand new perspectives on viewing disability as a part of a diverse society. Learning experiences are designed to eliminate myths and preconceptions and prepare students to successfully encounter diversity as expressed by people with disabilities who may be colleagues, employees, neighbors, or members of the community.

SPED 250. Developing Communicative Interactions. 2 Hours.

This course is designed to provide training to personnel who work with persons with extensive and pervasive support needs. It is a multimedia training program in the area of social, communicative language skill development, and intervention. The course also discusses effective interpersonal communication.

SPED 255. Aging and IDD. 2 Hours.

This course is designed to address training needs of direct support professionals and human services personnel working with senior citizens with developmental disabilities in community programs. It covers demographic and philosophical considerations, health, social, and legal issues, and coordination of services.

SPED 296. Field Experience in IDD. 4 Hours.

Practical experience in the development of individual program plans, medication management; positioning, turning, and transferring techniques; management of seizure disorders; job coaching; participant empowerment; facilitation of services; community networking; facilitation of relationships; provision of person-centered supports; vocational, education, and career support; assessment, documentation; communication; positive behavior supports; and aging issues.

SPED 299. Special Topics In Special Ed. 1-8 Hour.

Research in current trends related to various topic areas in the field of special education.

SPED 302. Language and Communication Interventions. 3 Hours.

Students will learn the characteristics of culture and use of language as it relates to diversity across cultures. Additional focus will be on communication and social interaction alternatives and typical and atypical language development. Students will learn augmentative and alternative communication strategies to support and enhance the verbal and non-verbal communication skills of individuals with exceptional learning needs.

SPED 310. Intro to Intellectual Disabilities and Autism Spectrum Disorders. 3 Hours.

In this survey course, students will explore definitions and issues related to individuals with intellectual disabilities (ID) and autism spectrum disorders (ASD). In addition, trends and practices will be discussed in the areas of developmental disabilities. Students will understand the impact of learners' academic and social abilities, attitudes, interests, and values on instruction and career development.

SPED 317. Foundational Academics. 2 Hours.

Students will be taught evidence based practices validated for federally recognized categories of disability conditions in reading, math, written language, and content areas. Students will also learn to select, adapt, and use instructional strategies, curriculum, and materials according to characteristics of the individual with exceptional learning needs. Additionally, students will learn to use strategies that facilitate maintenance and generalization of skills across learning environments.

SPED 340. Assessment in SPED. 4 Hours.

Students will learn to administer and interpret a variety of assessment instruments appropriate for diverse learners. The focus will include the use of legal provisions and ethical principles, screening, pre-referral, referral and classification practices and procedures, for individuals with exceptional learning needs. In addition, curriculum-based assessment will be used to evaluate instruction and monitor student progress. Prerequisite: Admission to Teacher Education.

SPED 379. Leadership in SPED. 3 Hours.

The student will engage in pre-professional activities that benefit individuals with diverse learning needs, their families, and community. Students will understand how their dispositions uphold high standards of competence and integrity and exercise sound judgment in the profession. Most importantly, students will focus on collaboration, partnerships, and involvement through a concerted and deliberate effort to connect higher education and the common good for persons with disabilities.

SPED 410. Introduction to High Incidence Disabilities. 3 Hours.

Students will understand the similarities and differences of individuals with exceptional learning needs which include specific learning disabilities, emotional behavior disorders, and speech or language impairment. Within the context of high incidence disabilities, students will understand the etiology and diagnosis related to various theoretical approaches to include behavioral, cognitive, developmental, social-emotional, medical, and neurological.

SPED 420. Inclusive Practices. 3 Hours.

Students will learn methods for differentiating instruction to meet the needs of a diverse range of learners in inclusive settings. Concepts of the shared model of Response to Intervention (RTI) and Universal Design for Learning (UDL) will be emphasized. A variety of co-teaching practices will be modeled within this course. In addition, collaborative partnerships with school personnel and community members for integrating individuals with exceptional learning needs will be demonstrated.

SPED 441. Methods for High Incidence Disabilities. 3 Hours.

Students will have knowledge of theories and research that form the basis for curriculum development and instructional practice for students identified as having high incidence disabilities. Students will develop and select instructional content with resources and strategies for students described as needing intermittent or limited levels of support. Students will learn to make responsive adjustments to lesson planning and instructional pedagogy based on assessment and data-based decision making. Students will develop and implement comprehensive individualized education programs in collaboration with various team members. Prerequisite: Admission to Teacher Education.

SPED 442. Methods for Low Incidence Disabilities. 3 Hours.

Students will have knowledge of theories and research that form the basis for curriculum development and instructional practice for students who have been identified as having low incidence disabilities. Students will develop and select instructional content with resources and strategies for students described as needing extensive and pervasive levels of support. Students will learn to make responsive adjustments to lesson planning and instructional pedagogy based on assessment and data-based decision making. Students will develop and implement comprehensive, annual individualized education programs in collaboration with various team members. Students will demonstrate techniques in transferring, positioning, lifting and CPI training. Prerequisite: Admission to Teacher Education.

SPED 444. Transition to Adult Life. 3 Hours.

Students will have knowledge in designing and using methods for assessing transition instruction for students of all ages with a special emphasis on students with a transition IEP (16-21). An emphasis on functional academics, vocational training, life and social skills development, recreation/leisure opportunities, and post-secondary training will be included. Students will understand their role in developing transitional individual education programs and how to work effectively with human services providers. Prerequisite: Admission to Teacher Education.

SPED 445. Collaboration in Special Education. 3 Hours.

This course examines issues and effective strategies for successful collaboration with interdisciplinary team members so students with disabilities can be included in the general education classroom. Students will understand the importance of fostering responsive, respectful, and beneficial relationships between families and professionals. Students will learn how to communicate and problem solve effectively with other team members including family members and legal guardians.

SPED 491. Senior Seminar in IDD. 4 Hours.

Seminar on various topics for seniors in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities.

SPED 494. Practicum In Special Education. 4 Hours.

Students will participate in a practicum with their school partners to design, implement, and evaluate instructional practices. Prospective special educators will develop and apply knowledge, skills, and dispositions essential to the roles for which they are being prepared.

SPED 497. Externship in IDD. 8 Hours.

Students will participate in a final practicum in the filed of human services and be supervised by agency personnel in a variety of adult agencies. Participating agencies include residential, vocational, recreational, social, protection, and advocacy as well as case management agencies serving adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

SPED 498. Student Teaching in SPED. 12 Hours.

Students will participate in an advanced practicum in the public schools in an elementary and secondary classroom (6 weeks full time in each setting) to design, implement, and evaluate instructional practices and develop and apply knowledge, skills, and professional dispositions essential to highly qualified special educators.

SPED 499. Special Topics in SPED. 1-8 Hour.

Research in current trends related to various topic areas in the field of special education.


Special Education Faculty

Dr. Brent Askvig

Dr. Evan Borisinkoff
Asst. Professor

Dr. Lori Garnes
Associate Professor

Dr. Jennifer Hefter
Asst. Professor

Julie Hoffer
Adjunct Faculty

Dr. Jerrica Maxson
Adjunct Faculty

Mary Mercer
Adjunct Faculty

Dr. Holly Pedersen
Asst. Professor

Dr. Greg Sampson
Asst. Professor, Chair

Ruth Soderstrom
Adjunct Faculty

JoLynn Webster
Adjunct Faculty

Dr. Johnna Westby
Asst. Professor