Bridgewater State College                                                                  SE202   3credits

Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders       Dr. Lisa Battaglino

Semester Dates: Beginning and ending                                              Date and Time of Class

Office Hours:                                                                                        E-Mail:

Other times by appointment                                                                Phone: (508) 531-2739


SE202 Introduction to Special Education


Course Description:

This introductory course focuses on various aspects of education involving all learners, including educational philosophy, foundations, effective teaching practices and models, and professional teaching standards.  An emphasis on special education definitions, terminology, developmental characteristics, curriculum and programs will be included.  Prepracticum monitored field-based experience is required.


Field Experience requirement: 

During this field experience the college student visits three different education settings; a regular education classroom, a special education setting within a public school and a special education setting in a private special education school or collaborative.  The three visits should be broken up into approximately 10 hours in regular education, 15 hours in a special education setting within a public school and 15 hours in a special education setting in a private special education school. 


Measurable Objective:

The student will be able to articulate orally and in writing the description of three different educational models for servicing students with special needs.  In addition they will interview a teacher or staff member to discuss aspects of inclusion, parent involvement and professional development.



Turnball & Turnball, Exceptional Lives, Merrill Publishing, 2nd edition

Readings:  766 Regulations, Massachusetts Department of Education, September 1992.

                        CEC Policy on Inclusion Schools and Community Settings.

Supplement to Teaching exceptional Children, vol. 25, No.4, May 1993

Appropriate immerging (new) articles from CEC journal and other field journals


Teaching Methods Employed in the Course:

Class discussions, peer interactions, medial presentation and field activities will be utilized to present the various topic areas.


Beliefs on Philosophy about Teaching:

This course is an essential introduction to the field of Special Education.  It is a prerequisite for all other courses in the undergraduate and post-baccalaureate programs.  It provides a foundation in the field by exploring terminology, laws, various disabling conditions, instructional techniques and other pertinent issues.  This course will be taught thorough a variety of teaching strategies including lecture, group/collaborative work, daily reflective activities, portfolio development and field experiences.  Active learning will be stressed in an environment designed to foster motivated independent learners.



1.       Gaining factual knowledge.

2.       Learning fundamental principles, generalizations, or theories including psychological and social emotional characteristics of individuals with disabilities.

3.       Developing specific skills, competencies and points of view needed by professionals in the field most closely related to this course.

4.       Learning how professionals in this field go about the process of gaining new knowledge.



1.       Assess personal attitude toward exceptional students focusing on respect for individual differences.

2.        Analyze various characteristics of exceptional students (including educational, psychological, medical, and social) covering major disability categories and the continuum from those needing mild adaptations to a totally independent curriculum.

3.       Contrast appropriate classification systems for learners with special needs.

4.       Explain & evaluate terminology used in describing and relating to learners with special needs.

5.       Describe appropriate prevalence and incidence figures for exceptional students.

6.       Contrast the various delivery models and educational trends for learners with special needs.

7.       Appraise the “normalization concept” presently active in special education and society.

8.       Analyze various professional definitions of each classification of exceptional students.

9.       Identify and explain laws related to Special Education and their components particularly IDEA (including process right related to assessment, eligibility, confidentiality, and placement ), ADA (including common environmental barriers that hinder accessibility) and Chapter 766.

10.   Discuss the effects an exceptional condition has on an individual’s life and the life of his family.

11.   Be aquainted with the historical foundations and classical studies in the field of Special Education as well as contemporary issues.

12.   Discuss causes and theories of disabilities and implications for prevention.

13.   To identify and establish contact with sources of unique services, rewards and resources specific to individuals with disabilities.

14.   To be knowledgeable of consumer and professional organizations including journals and publications.

15.   To be knowledgeable of service providers in school and in related agencies.

16.   To review the major perspectives from medicine, psychology, behavior, and education as they apply to the definitions and etiology of disabilities.

17.   To be knowledgeable of appropriate practices as defined by the CEC Code of Ethics.


Major Topics:

1.       Definitions, Terminology, Statistics, Programs, Categorical Issues, Chapter 766 and P.L. 94-142, Inclusion.

2.       Mental Retardation

3.       Learning Disabilities and Attention Deficit Disorder.

4.       Behavior Disorders.

5.       Visual Impairments.

6.       Hearing Impairments.

7.       Physical and Health Disorders.

8.       Communication Disorders.

9.       Gifted and Talented.

10.   Severe/ Multiple Disabilities



Three field based experiences observing, participating and analyzing different special education settings must be completed.  Specific information and the format for this assignment will be detailed in class.  Credit value – up to 65 points.  This activity must be completed to obtain course credits.


A paper concerned with methods and materials for the regular classroom related to one of the exceptional areas or one of the topics discussed in class must be completed.  Topics may vary according to individual interest: all topics should be discussed with the instructor.  The paper should include recent information related to the topic.  It should be a minimum of five and a maximum of seven pages, not including the bibliography, double-space typed, and completed in a professional manner.  Credit value - up to 35 points.


Measures of Student Success:

·         Observe, participate and analyze three different setting serving learners with special needs:

            * Regular classroom with special needs students

            * Public school special education program.

            * Non-public school special education program.

·         Research paper on teaching strategies for special needs students in the regular classroom

·         Appropriate examinations.

·         Portfolio Assessment at Midpoint and Final Point






The final grade will be based on two exam, the credit value earned for activities and, somewhat,  the value of class participation.  Grading in very traditional: 

90% of the possible points equals and A- 

80% a B-

70% equals a C-


























Tentative Course Content (calendar):                       




Introduction, Overview, Assignments


Definitions, Terminology, Statistics, Programs,

          Categorical Issues, 

          Chapter 766 and P.L. 94-142


Mental Retardation


Learning Disabilities


Learning Disabilities/ ADD & ADHD


Behavior Disorder


Exam/Portfolio  Assessment


Visual Impairments


Hearing Impairments, including impact of

             disabilities on auditory skills


Physical and Health Disorder


Communication Disorders, including impact of disabilities on auditory skills


Gifted and Talented


Severe/ Multiple Disabilities

Exam Week

Exam/ Portfolio Assessment


Bibliography of related materials:


Bender, William N.  (1998).  Learning Disabilities: Characteristic, Identification and Teaching Strategies. 

Allyn & Bacon.


Bernstein, Deena K. & Tiegerman-Farber, Elllenmorris.  (1997).  Language and Communication Disorders

in Children.  Allyn & Bacon.


Hallahan, Daniel P. & Kauffman, James M. (1997).  Exceptional Learners: Introduction to Special

Education.  Allyn & Bacon.


Hardman, Michael L., Drew, Clifford J. & Egan, M. Winston.  (1999).  Human Exceptionality: Society,

School, and Family.  Allyn & Bacon.


Hickson, Linda, Blackman, Leonard S. & Reis, Elizabeth M.  (1995).  Mental Retardation: Foundations of

Educational Programming.  Allyn & Bacon.


Nelson, Nickola W.  (1998).  Childhood Language Disorders in Context: Infancy Through Adolescence. 

Allyn & Bacon.


Smith, Deborah Deutsch.  (1999).  Introduction to Special Education: Teaching in an Age of Challenge

(Web Edition).  Allyn & Bacon.


Smith, Tom E. C., Dowdy, Carol A., Plloway, Edward A., & Blalock, Ginger.  (1997).  Children and Adults

with Learning Disabilities.  Allyn & Bacon.