Remember that Walden’s Title IV Code is 025042.
With nearly 6 million students nationwide in need of special education, there is a strong need and growing demand for qualified educators to work with exceptional students.* The Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) with a specialization in Special Education can position you to advance in this growing field.
This specialization’s curriculum is aligned with the Council for Exceptional Children’s Advanced Role Content Standards and focuses on key issues in the field of special education, such as leadership and policy, program development and assessment, and ethical practice. This program can help you increase your effectiveness in your school or district by supporting the professional growth of educators in special education and can enable you to gain a comprehensive understanding of the critical trends and issues impacting special education today. Your learning experience culminates with a doctoral study project focused on a real-world issue in your school or organization.
This specialization can help you to:
Time to completion varies by student, depending on individual progress. For a personalized estimate of your time to completion, call an enrollment advisor at 1-866-492-5336.
*The Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Disability Demographics and Statistics, Annual Disability Statistics Compendium: 2012, on the Internet at http://disabilitycompendium.org/compendium-statistics/special-education (viewed online February 1, 2013).
Special education as a field is dynamic, with a growing research base of best practices and changing implementation efforts that seek to balance effective and efficient education for students with disabilities. Education professionals in this course explore evolving trends that reflect this balance and a range of related topics, such as issues of equity, assistive technology, collaborative instruction between regular and special educators, delivery approaches with and without student categorization, and ethical practice. As part of this foundational course, education professionals learn the process of how to complete their doctoral or education specialist degree successfully. They gain facility with Walden University’s online learning environment; knowledge of the university’s and the program’s support systems, expectations, and outcomes; and advanced, graduate-level critical-thinking, research, and writing skills.
Leadership and advocacy go hand-in-hand when seeking to promote policies that support effective practices in education for early childhood and school-age students. In this course, education professionals analyze the connections among advocacy, leadership, and policy by examining the evolution of education legislation and pivotal case law in the United States. They examine change theory and leadership styles, allowing them to reflect on their own and others’ paradigms and to determine best practices to promote positive social change. They also engage in a culminating project through which they construct a professional plan for advocacy and leadership in an area of interest that includes issues of diversity and special needs.
In Applied Research in Education, candidates develop a broad understanding of theoretical frameworks and of the appropriate use of both qualitative and quantitative methods. Candidates in the course also focus on methods designed specifically for studying human development and how individuals learn. Methods are explored through studying the philosophy of research and particular research strategies, reviewing literature in the field, and through searching for and critically analyzing literature relating to learners’ individual interests.
A growing body of research exists around evidenced-based instructional practices in special education. This course reviews the literature specific to specialized instruction for students with disabilities in language, reading, writing, math, and content areas. Topics also include effective practices for instruction and evaluation for students with social-emotional and behavioral needs, including applied behavior analysis and positive behavioral interventions and skill building. Related brain research will be examined, as well as assistive technology and methods of delivery, whether in isolation, small group, or inclusive settings.
To document the effectiveness of practices in special education, different research questions are needed that call for different types of methodologies. This course examines four types of research methodologies important to special education: experimental group, correlation, single-subject, and qualitative designs. Particular attention is given to single-subject research designs that are used to study behavioral change in an individual or group as a result of an intervention. Topics include reliable measurement, repeated measurement, description of conditions, baseline and treatment conditions, and single-variable rules.
Response to intervention (RTI) is a school-wide approach that integrates assessment and intervention within a multitiered prevention system to maximize student achievement and to reduce behavioral problems. This course examines RTI research and other problem-solving processes for best practices for using data to identify students at risk of academic, social, or emotional failure; methods of disability identification and monitoring student progress; and data-based decision making for instruction, universal instruction, and interventions useful for all students. Professional development of regular and special education teachers and the role of parents will be explored. Functional behavioral assessment is examined as an evaluation tool for understanding behavior, and effective practices for school-wide positive behavioral support (SWPBS) is also explored.
Candidates taking this course build on their prior explorations of research design and methodology by participating in hands-on, in-depth study of specific data collection and analysis skills needed for candidates to become producers of research. Candidates will apply concepts and practice skills in research design, data collection, data analysis, and presentation of results. Practical exercises and discussion will emphasize both qualitative and quantitative research methods.
The prospectus is a brief document that helps education professionals organize, delineate, and make decisions regarding their doctoral study and appropriate research methodology. In this course, education professionals design the prospectus in collaboration with their committee members. Education professionals learn best practices for developing the prospectus and analyze past examples. They refine their doctoral study questions and explore research methods and project types that they may incorporate into their study. Finally, they engage in the iterative process of writing the prospectus, incorporating feedback from peers and committee members. Ultimately, the prospectus is offered by education professionals as a document for review for consideration by potential mentors for their doctoral study, which is completed during EDUC 8090 - Doctoral Study Intensive.
Once effective practices for special education are in place, a clear plan is needed for implementation fidelity that sustains enthusiasm within the professional learning community. This course examines critical contributing components such as collaborative consultation for specialized instruction, co-teaching, methods for ongoing evaluation, and professional development. Candidates examine the influences of school culture and diverse sociocultural and linguistic communities on effective programming. Focus is given to forming partnerships with administrators, teachers, and parents in the creation and implementation of highly effective individual education plans.
Students demonstrate in the doctoral study their scholarly abilities to examine, critique, and synthesize knowledge so that new ideas can be tested; best practices identified, established, and verified; or theoretical or policy constructs evaluated and advanced. In all cases, the doctoral study is to be a rigorous, original inquiry that results in new knowledge, demonstrating its efficacy in the world of practice. The goal of the doctoral study is for the education professional to conduct an investigation that focuses on learning, teaching, and leading within a designated community. (Prerequisites: All other course requirements and the residency must be completed prior to registration in EDUC 8090).
Note: EDUC 8090 must be taken for a minimum of two terms for a total of 12 semester credits. If more time is needed to complete the doctoral study, additional terms of EDUC 8090 will be required to use university services and support. Additional credits for EDUC 8090 are not reflected in the overall credit requirements needed for graduation, but these additional credits will appear on the transcript.
The doctoral study demonstrates a student’s scholarly talents to examine, critique, and synthesize knowledge so that new ideas can be tested; best practices identified, established, and verified; or theoretical or policy constructs evaluated and advanced. In all cases, the doctoral study is to be a rigorous, original inquiry that results in new knowledge, demonstrating its efficacy in the world of practice. The goal of the doctoral study is for the educational leader to conduct an investigation that focuses on learning, teaching, and leading within a designated community.
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