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EDUC 2120 Syllabus

Course Syllabus

EDUC 2120 - Introduction to Special Education

3 Credit Hours

Course Information

Course Description:

This course is a study of the characteristics and needs of children with special needs and/or disabilities. There is an emphasis on legislation, programs, services and best practices in the educational setting.  Field experiences are required.

Course Outcomes:

Student Learning Outcomes:

Upon successful completion of the course the student will be able to:

1. Understand the historical foundations of special education.

2. Understand and become familiar with the law/legislation with regards to disability, basic terms and concepts of special education. (TN STD. I. C)

3. Understand the different categories of handicapping conditions as identified by IDEA, the various disabilities that are under each category, how the children with disabilities are unique and how to design and implement educational strategies that will promote learning. (TN STD. II.)

4. Understand basic principles of classroom management and multicultural education. (TN STD. XI. A1, B. 3, C. 2,3)

5. Apply computers and related technologies to support instructions, interdisciplinary teaching and learning.

6. Understand individual differences and the different approaches children use to learn. (TN STD. III. A, VI)

7. Understand cultural and gender differences and how these could affect classroom communication. (TN STD. VI. A, C).

Tennessee Department of Education, Professional Education Standards for Special Education:

The following standards are addressed in this course:

Standard 1: Discipline Taught and Foundations of Special Education
C. Demonstrate an understanding of the implications of disability legislation and special education policies and procedures.

Standard 2: Student Learning and Development
Understand that all individuals have universal and unique patterns of learning and development that vary individually in cognitive, social, and emotional and physical areas.

Recognize that students with disabilities have greater individual variation than students without disabilities Use this knowledge to optimize learning opportunities for each student.

2.1 Have knowledge of the characteristics of a wide array of disabilities and the ways that students’ abilities and disabilities impact learning and development.

Standard 3: Diverse Learners
Candidates understand how students differ in their approaches to learning and create instructional opportunities that are adapted to diverse learners.

Standard 6: Communication
A. Understand effective verbal and non-verbal and media communication techniques and use them to support all student learning.

C. Understand how cultural and gender differences can affect communication in the classroom.

Standard 9: Reflective Practitioner
Evaluate the effects of their choices and actions on others and actively seek out opportunities to grow professionally.

Standard 11: Technology
A. Apply computers and related technologies to support instruction in appropriate grade level and subject areas.

1. Integrate instructional technology into the classroom to facilitate interdisciplinary teaching and learning, supplement instructional strategies, design instructional materials and enhance hands-on experiences and problem solving.

B.3.Use computer-based tools to create presentations.

C.2.Perform basic operating systems tasks, software functions and minor troubleshooting on the most current and available systems.

3.Work with software program menus to load and install programs, open and close application programs and create and edit documents

Prerequisites and Corequisites:

DSPW 0800 and DSPR 0800 or equivalent skill. 

Prerequisites & Co-requisites:

Acceptable placement scores or completion of all competencies in Learning Support reading and writing.

Course Topics:
  1. Purpose and Planning of Special Education— This section includes a study of the definition of exceptional children and special education, a review of the legislation and court decisions that have impacted special education, and an in depth study of the IEP/IFSP process and implementing this with a student who has special needs.
  2. Collaborating with Parents and Families in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Societies—This module focuses on the needs of families who have special needs with additional exploration of the impact of diverse culture or language on the family. This module also examines the ways that teachers can develop partnerships with families to help support the educational goals of the child.
  3. Mental Retardation—This module promotes understanding of Mental Retardation (MR) by examining the definition of MR by IDEA and AAMR, the defining characteristics, the prevalence, the causes, methods of assessment, educational approaches and placements as well as current trends in the field of MR.
  4. Learning Disabilities -- This module examines the wide area of disabilities categorized under Learning Disabilities (LD). The development of the definition of LD is explored as well as the functional definition under IDEA. Included in the study of LD are the defining characteristics, the prevalence, the causes, methods of assessment, educational approaches and placements. Extra emphasis is given to the reading/writing deficits and methods to address them.
  5. Emotional and Behavioral Disorders— This module studies the wide range of emotional and behavioral disorders (ED) and the characteristics often exhibited by children with ED. The causes, prevalence, identification and assessment are studied. Educational approaches are examined with emphasis on behavior and classroom management techniques.
  6. Autism Spectrum Disorders— This module examines the range of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) from Asperger Syndrome to Childhood Disintegrative Disorder. The IDEA definition of autism is examined and the general characteristics are pointed out. Screening and diagnosis of ASD is discussed as well as prevalence and causes. Educational approaches such as ABA are discussed.
  7. Communication Disorders & Deafness and Hearing Loss— This module covers communication disorders and deafness and hearing loss. Both communication disorders and deafness are defined, and the characteristics of children with the disability are examined. The prevalence, cause and assessment of these disabilities are examined and adaptation, as a part of the educational approach, is examined.
  8. Blindness and Low Vision— This module examines the definition, range and characteristics of loss of vision. The prevalence and cause is examined as well as educational placement and approaches.
  9. Physical Disabilities, Health Impairments and ADHD— This module examines the physical disabilities and fragile health situations that impact a child with special needs. This section includes a study of the different therapies that may serve a child as well as modifications that may need to be made in the environment or routine.
  10. Giftedness and Talented—This module examines the category of gifted and talented, the general characteristics, the individual differences, and the prevalence. Identification and assessment is also examined as well as examining under identified populations. Educational approaches are also examined. 
Specific Course Requirements:

Field Experiences: The student must have engaged in a minimum of 4 hours of observational field experiences in classrooms and /or with children or parents of children with special needs in order to meet this requirement.

Assignment Submissions: The student must have a working knowledge of how to operate in the D2L environment and how to attach, download, and submit documents in Microsoft Word format. 

Textbooks, Supplementary Materials, Hardware and Software Requirements

Required Textbooks:

Please visit the Virtual Bookstore to obtain textbook information for this course. Move your cursor over the "Books" link in the navigation bar and select "Textbooks & Course Materials." Select your Program, Term, Department, and Course; then select "Submit."

Supplementary Materials:
Hardware and Software Requirements:

Minimum hardware requirements can be found here.

Minimum software requirements can be found here.

Common applications you might need:

Web Resources:

Purdue OWL Online Writing Lab (for APA, MLA, or Chicago style)

The Writing Center Online Writer's Handbook

Student Resources:
  • Technical support information can be found on the TN eCampus Help Desk page.
  • Smarthinking virtual tutoring is available FREE of charge. to access Smarthinking, visit the course homepage and select Smarthinking under Course Resources. You also view sample sessions to see what Smarthinking offers and how it works.
  • Information on other student issues or concerns can be located on the TN eCampus Student Resources page.

Instructor Information

Please see "Instructor Information" in the Getting Started Module for instructor contact information, virtual office hours, and other communication information. You can expect to receive a response from the instructor within 24-48 hours unless notified of extenuating circumstances.

Participation, Assessments, & Grading

Testing Procedures:

Testing will be completed online within Desire2Learn. 

Grading Procedures:

Detailed instructions and grading criteria (grading rubrics) will be provided for each assignment. The grading rubrics will be used to award points earned for student work. It is expected that students follow instructions carefully, study the grading criteria, and ask questions if they do not understand an assignment. 

Grading Scale:
90-100%A (Superior)585-650 pts.
80-89%B (Excellent)

520-584 pts.

70-79%C (Average)455-519 pts.
60-69%D (Passing, but below average)390-454 pts.
0-59%F (Failure)0-389 pts.
Assignments and Projects:

A sequenced list of assignments and projects arranged by course section or module with due dates is available on Desire2Learn. 

Class Participation:

Students must participate in all interactive aspects of the course. Students are expected to log into the course at least 3 times each week. Students must communicate with other students through email, are expected to communicate with the instructor as a learning resource, must check the course bulletin board frequently for announcements, and must actively participate in threaded discussion events.

Late Policy:

Each course module has specific elements that need to be accomplished, generally during a week's time frame. Each module builds on the materials in the previous weeks. Therefore, students should work on the material in the order given in the schedule of assignments. With the exception of the tests, there are no specific days or times that a student must participate. Students can work on this course at a time of day best suited to their needs.

Due dates and times are indicated on the Calendar. To receive full credit, assignments must be handed in on time. Late assignments will have points deducted: 10% for one week, 20% for two weeks, and no assignments accepted beyond two weeks late. Also, no assignments will be accepted beyond the final module assignments due date. EXAMS CANNOT BE TAKEN LATE. 

Course Ground Rules

The following two statements (1., 2.) were derived from the TBR System-wide Student Rules document, released January 2012:


Read the document in its entirety here.

1. Standards of Conduct:

  • Students are required to adhere to the same professional, legal and ethical standards of conduct online as on campus. In addition, students should conform to generally accepted standards of "netiquette" while sending e-mail, posting comments to the discussion board, and while participating in other means of communicating online. Specifically, students should refrain from inappropriate and/or offensive language, comments and actions.

2. Review the TN eCampus Academic Integrity/Academic Honesty Policy:

  • In their academic activities, students are expected to maintain high standards of honesty and integrity. Academic dishonesty is prohibited.

Such conduct includes, but is not limited to:

  • an attempt by one or more students to use unauthorized information in the taking of an exam
  • to submit as one's own work, themes, reports, drawings, laboratory notes, computer programs, or other products prepared by another person,
  • or to knowingly assist another student in obtaining or using unauthorized materials.

Plagiarism, cheating, and other forms of academic dishonesty are prohibited.

Students guilty of academic misconduct, either directly or indirectly through participation or assistance, are subject to disciplinary action through the regular procedures of the student’s home institution.  Refer to the student handbook provided by your home institution to review the student conduct policy.

In addition to other possible disciplinary sanctions that may be imposed, the instructor has the authority to assign an "F" or zero for an activity or to assign an "F" for the course.

Other Course Rules:

Students are expected to:

  • Participate in all aspects of the course
  • Communicate with other students
  • Learn how to navigate in Brightspace
  • Keep abreast of course announcements
  • Use the assigned course management (Brightspace) email address rather than a personal email address
  • Address technical problems immediately:
  • Observe course netiquette at all times.

Guidelines for Communications


  • Always include a subject line.
  • Remember without facial expressions some comments may be taken the wrong way. Be careful in wording your emails. Use of emoticons might be helpful in some cases.
  • Use standard fonts.
  • Do not send large attachments without permission.
  • Special formatting such as centering, audio messages, tables, html, etc. should be avoided unless necessary to complete an assignment or other communication.
  • Respect the privacy of other class members


  • Review the discussion threads thoroughly before entering the discussion. Be a lurker then a discussant.
  • Try to maintain threads by using the "Reply" button rather starting a new topic.
  • Do not make insulting or inflammatory statements to other members of the discussion group. Be respectful of other’s ideas.
  • Be patient and read the comments of other group members thoroughly before entering your remarks.
  • Be cooperative with group leaders in completing assigned tasks.
  • Be positive and constructive in group discussions.
  • Respond in a thoughtful and timely manner.


The Tennessee Virtual Library is available to all students enrolled in TN eCampus programs and courses. Links to library materials (such as electronic journals, databases, interlibrary loans, digital reserves, dictionaries, encyclopedias, maps, and librarian support) and Internet resources needed by learners to complete online assignments and as background reading will be included within the course modules. To access the Virtual Library, go to the course homepage and select the Virtual Library link under Course Resources.

Students with Disabilities

Qualified students with disabilities will be provided reasonable and necessary academic accommodations if determined eligible by the appropriate disability services staff at their home institution. Prior to granting disability accommodations in this course, the instructor must receive written verification of a student's eligibility for specific accommodations from the disability services staff at the home institution. It is the student's responsibility to initiate contact with their home institution's disability services staff and to follow the established procedures for having the accommodation notice sent to the instructor.

Syllabus Changes

The instructor reserves the right to make changes as necessary to this syllabus. If changes are necessitated during the term of the course, the instructor will immediately notify students of such changes both by individual email communication and posting both notification and nature of change(s) on the course bulletin board.


The information contained in this syllabus is for general information purposes only. While we endeavor to keep this information up-to-date and accurate, there may be some discrepancies between this syllabus and the one found in your online course. The syllabus of record is the one found in your online course. Please make sure you read the syllabus in your course at the beginning of the semester. Questions regarding course content should be directed to your instructor.

Last Revised on July 12, 2021