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"Degrees & Programs"


Teaching the Exceptional Learner




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Course level: EDU Graduate

This course provides an overview of the categories of exceptionality for school-aged learners with special needs. The teacher candidate will focus on expressive and receptive communication skills and the recognition of individual learning patterns to utilize for the planning, instruction, and assessment strategies of diverse populations. Historical perspectives and information related to special education law and current policies and practices are examined. If you reside in California please click here to enroll in the California version of this course.  This course is not available for enrollment to residents of Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Utah, Wisconsin, Wyoming and individuals who reside outside the United States.


This graduate level course requires proof of completion of a Bachelor's degree. Be prepared to provide documentation during the checkout process..

What you'll learn

Course skills and outcomes

Week 1

  • Define terminology, acronyms, and language used in the field of special education.
  • Analyze federal and state legal structures governing programs for students with exceptional learning needs.
  • Examine public policy and its effect on educational issues regarding students with exceptional learning needs.
  • Explore the IDEA eligibility categories for special education.
  • Discuss major laws and principles that address student and parent rights pertaining to student placements.
  • Compare and contrast personal and societal attitudes toward learners with exceptional needs.

Week 2

  • Examine the social, personality, and learning characteristics of students with exceptionalities.
  • Discuss the history of learning disabilities and the federal definition of specific learning disability.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the special needs of gifted learners.
  • Explain the assets that a student brings to learning through cultural and family values, experiences,
  • and social interactions.
  • Explore the cognitive and language characteristics of students with exceptionalities.

Week 3

  • Examine the response to intervention (RTI) process used to determine a student’s abilities and functioning levels.
  • Analyze different models used for pre-referral, referral, and multidisciplinary evaluation processes.
  • Evaluate various types of assessment instruments used for determining special education eligibility.
  • Discuss assessment practices and current trends in administering, scoring, and interpreting test results.
  • Examine the individualized education program (IEP) process.

Week 4

  • Describe inclusion and ways to create a diverse classroom that is both supportive and emotionally safe.
  • Identify strategies that support engagement in learning for all students in the diverse classroom.
  • Explain service delivery options for students with an IEP.
  • Define related services for special education students.
  • Identify options for students who need assistive technology in the classroom.
  • Explore discipline procedures required by IDEA.

Week 5

  • Analyze instructional strategies used in adapting learning activities to individual students’ needs.
  • Evaluate instructional decision-making processes based on learner developmental levels.
  • Critique methods for student self-assessment and reflection.
  • Construct appropriate strategies to differentiate instruction while holding students accountable for complex thinking.
  • Evaluate the importance of understanding IEP goals and objectives when planning for instruction in a diverse classroom with exceptional learners.
  • Identify common testing and instructional accommodations or modifications for students with exceptionalities.

Week 6

  • Examine ways general education teachers can support the special education teacher to facilitate learner growth and development.
  • Design ways to collaborate with other school professionals that facilitate student learning through various co-teaching strategies.
  • Identify support services, personnel, agencies, and community resources available to facilities of students with exceptionalities.
  • Discuss the importance of school-to-family collaboration and communication for exceptional learners.


Why take courses at University of Phoenix

Accreditation that matters

We’ve been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission ( for more than 40 years.

Real-world instructors

Learn from instructors who bring an average of 25 years of working experience to the classroom.

Affordable and potentially reimbursable

Our tuition and fees are competitive and fixed. Also, check to see if your employer will cover you for this course.

Next Steps

Start a conversation about your future with an enrollment representative today.

Start a conversation about your future with an enrollment representative today.

Call (844) 937-8679

Transfer Credits

Credit Transfer

Credit Transfer

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