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TELC 5004/6004/7004 Syllabus

Course Syllabus

TELC 5004/6004/7004 - Survey of Exceptional Children

3 Credit Hours

Course Information

Course Description:

This course provides a critical study of the history, issues, trends and supporting research in special education. It enables the student to identify psychological, physical, educational, medical, behavioral, learning characteristics and needs of individuals with various disabilities, as well as students from diverse cultural, social, ethnic and racial backgrounds. Inclusion of students with disabilities and techniques to adopt instruction to fit individual needs will be emphasized. An understanding of legislation, regulations and litigation related to serving individuals with disabilities will enable the student to correlate individualized educational programs with the principles of normalization and least restrictive environment. Further, this course assists students in acquiring the knowledge and skills needed to function well as an educator in a changing and diverse society. Students will gain an understanding of learners and learning processes. They will have knowledge of professional, ethical and legal issues affecting educators. Students will learn the human relations skills needed to work effectively with individuals with disabilities and their families in both professional and community roles. 

Course Outcomes:

For more details, refer to the Tennessee Professional License Standards

Primary Objectives:

At the conclusion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Understand how students learn and develop and provide learning opportunities that support student intellectual, social and personal development. (DOE Standard 2)
  2. Understand how students differ in their approaches to learning and create instructional opportunities that are adapted to diverse learners. (DOE Standard 3)
  3. Use knowledge of effective verbal, nonverbal and media communication techniques to foster active inquiry, collaboration and supportive interaction in the classroom. (DOE Standard 6)
  4. Know, understand, and use the central concepts, tools of inquiry and structures of the discipline(s) they teach and can create learning experiences that develop student competence in the subject matter. (DOE Standard 1)

Secondary Objectives

  1. Understand and use a variety of instructional strategies to encourage development of critical thinking, problem solving and performance skills in students. (DOE Standard 4)
  2. Use an understanding of individual and group motivation and behavior to create a learning environment that encourages positive social interaction, active engagement in learning and self motivation. (DOE Standard 5)
  3. Plan instruction based on knowledge of subject matter, students, the community, and curriculum goals. (DOE Standard 7)
  4. Know, understand and use formal and informal assessment strategies to evaluate and ensure the continuing intellectual, social and physical development of the learner. (DOE Standard 8)
  5. Be reflective practitioners who continually evaluate the effects of their choices and actions on others (students, parents, and other professionals in the learning community) and who actively seek out opportunities to grow professionally. (DOE Standard 9)
  6. Foster relationships with school colleagues, parents and agencies in the larger community to support students' learning and well-being. (DOE Standard 10)
  7.  Use technology and technology based resources to facilitate developmentally appropriate student learning. (DOE Standard 11.a.)
  8. Use technology to enhance their professional growth and productivity. (DOE Standard 11.b.)
  9. Effectively use and manage all technology available to them and explore the uses of emerging resources. Promote the equitable, ethical and legal use of technology resources. (DOE Standard 11.c.)
  10. Demonstrate advanced ability to articulate the rationale for non-categorical programming for children with disabilities. (DOE M I.A)
  11. Demonstrate advanced knowledge of the etiology of moderately and severely disabling conditions. (DOE C I.A)
  12. Demonstrate advanced ability to identify psychological, physical, educational, medical, behavioral, and learning characteristics and needs of individuals with various disabilities. (DOE II.G)
  13. Demonstrate advanced ability to describe etiologies and characteristics of mildly disabling conditions, of physical and health disabilities, and of conditions affecting individuals with learning disabilities. (DOE M.I.B)
  14. Demonstrate advanced knowledge of cognitive developments, including variable growth and behavior patterns. (DOE I. A)
  15. Demonstrate advanced knowledge of seizure disorders and types and transmission routes of communicable diseases.(DOE II. H; CEC 8.K.3)
  16. Demonstrate advanced knowledge of common etiologies and the impact of sensory disabilities on learning and experience. (CEC 2.K.5) 
  17. Demonstrate advanced ability to describe and differentiate between normal and abnormal growth and development. (DOE I.E)
  18. Demonstrate advanced knowledge of specialized health care practices, first aid techniques, and for medically relevant interventions necessary to maintain the health and safety of individuals with disabilities in a variety of educational settings. (CEC/FIC 5.K.4)
  19. Demonstrate advanced knowledge of legislation, regulations, and litigation related to the field of special education. (DOE II.D) 
  20. Demonstrate advanced knowledge of the origin, development, and application of the principles of normalization and least restrictive environment. (DOE II.C)
  21. Demonstrate advanced ability to identify the prevalence/incidence of individuals with various disabilities; understanding the need to maintain natural proportions in community-based instruction. (DOE II.B)
  22. Demonstrate advanced knowledge of the history, educational philosophies, definitions, etiologies, and classification systems for the various handicapping conditions. (DOE II.A; CEC/FIC I.K.2)
  23. Demonstrate advanced knowledge of language development, both receptive and expressive. (DOE I.C)
  24. Demonstrate advanced knowledge of cognitive development and early experiences of children that contribute to individual differences in cognitive development. (DOE I.B)
  25. Demonstrate advanced knowledge of psychological and social-emotional characteristics of individuals with disabilities. (CEC/FIC 2.K.3; CEC 2.K.4)
  26. Demonstrate advanced knowledge of the continuum of placement and services model, including alternative programs available for individuals with disabilities. (CEC 1.K.4; CEC/FIC 1.K.3)
  27. Demonstrate advanced knowledge of the historical foundations, philosophies, theories and classic studies including the major contributors, and major legislation that underline the growth and improvement of knowledge and practice in the field of special education. (CEC 1.K.4; CEC/FIC 1.K.3)
  28. Demonstrate advanced knowledge of current educational terminology and definitions of individuals with disabilities* including the identification criteria and labeling controversies, using professionally accepted classification systems, and current incidence and prevalence figures. (CEC 1.K.1)
  29. Demonstrate advanced knowledge of differing perceptions of deviance, including those from mental health, religion, legal-corrections, education, and social welfare. (CEC 1.K.3)
  30. Demonstrate advanced knowledge of the legal system to assist individuals with disabilities. (CEC 1.K.5)
  31. Demonstrate advanced knowledge of evolution and major perspectives from medicine, psychology, behavior, and education of the definitions and etiologies of individuals with disabilities. (CEC 1.K.2)
  32. Demonstrate advanced knowledge of the impact of language development on the academic and social skills of individuals with disabilities. (CEC 4.K.3)
  33. Demonstrate advanced knowledge of the impact of disabilities on auditory skills. (CEC 4.K.4; CEC/FIC 4.K.3)
  34. Demonstrate advanced knowledge of common environmental and personal barriers that hinder accessibility and acceptance of individuals with disabilities. (CEC 6.K.4)
  35. Demonstrate advanced ability to articulate the teacher’s ethical responsibility to non-identified individuals who function similarly to individuals with disabilities. (CEC 8.S.2)
  36. Demonstrate advanced ability to delineate the principals of normalization versus the educational concept of “least restrictive environment” in designing educational programs for individuals with disabilities. (CEC/FIC 1.S.2)
  37. Demonstrate advanced ability to describe and define general developmental, academic, social, career, and functional characteristics of individuals with disabilities as they relate to levels of support needed. (CEC 2.S.1)
  38. Demonstrate advanced knowledge of continuum of alternative placements and programs available to individuals with disabilities; state, provincial, and local services available; and the advantages and disadvantages of placement options and programs within the continuum of services. (CEC/FIC 6.K.2)
  39. Demonstrate advanced ability to maintain confidentiality of medical and academic records and respect for privacy of individuals with disabilities. (CEC/FIC 8.S.4)
  40. Demonstrate advanced knowledge of physical development, physical disability, and health impairments as they relate to the development and behavior of individuals with disabilities. (CEC 2.K.1) 
Prerequisites & Co-requisites:


Course Topics:

Overview of Special Education, Legislation, and Referral Process

Overview of Learning Disabilities 

Overview of Mental Retardation

Overview of Communication Disorders

Overview of Emotional/Behavioral Disorders

Overview of Physical/Orthopedic and Health Impairments

Overview of Sensory Impairments (Hearing and Visual Impairments)

Overview of the Gifted/Talented

Low Incidence Disabilities (Autism, Traumatic Brain Injury, etc.)

Attention Deficit Disorder and At-risk students

Inclusion of Students with Disabilities and Teaching Considerations

Working with Families with Students with Disabilities 

Specific Course Requirements:

Students are required to complete the following assignments/tasks:

NOTE: There will be a deduction of one point per day from each late assignment that may be submitted past the due date. See calendar for due dates. This applies to any module assignment that has point values.

  1. Read chapters in textbook that correspond to the content in each module. The chapters along with a study guide are listed in “Outline of Tasks.” Students will then go through the PowerPoint presentations (that are based on the important content in the chapter and will complete activities assigned in the modules, which includes a set of reflective questions that students will formulate answers and submit to the assignments Dropbox. Most of the modules have a second PowerPoint presentation on a topic to help recapitulate essential information in the module and help students in their preparation for their quiz on the content of the module (580 points; 29 activities @ 10 points each and 10 points for participation with questions/comments to the discussion board for each module). To meet the participation requirement, there must be at least one original question or comment and a response to at least one posting by another person for each module.
  2. Complete eight quizzes and a final exam (105 points; 8 quizzes @ 10 points each and a final for 25 points). The questions on the quizzes and on the final exam will be based on PowerPoint presentations/reflective questions, textbook readings, and supplemental handouts posted in the modules. The common question types on the quizzes will be multiple-choice and fill-in-the-blanks. There will be 15 multiple choice questions and two short answer questions (5 points each) based on case study on the final. The final is comprehensive, i.e., will cover all the modules.
  3. Develop an intervention portfolio that contains 10 articles (that contain activities or intervention strategies for five disability areas 80 points). The Tennessee Virtual Library is an excellent resource for this activity. Additional information and the link can be found in the Library section of the syllabus. The intervention portfolio should consist of articles (published in journals or on the WWW) that contain activities or strategies for working with students with disabilities. Students can select any five disability areas and come up with two articles that contain activities or strategies for each area. You must (a) list the reference for the article and/or the article, (b) show evidence that you have read the activities/strategies by providing a brief summary of the activity/strategy, (c) the rationale for including it in your portfolio, and (d) contribute additional related accommodations, modifications and uses of technology. Please collect the articles that will be useful to you (i.e., if you are going to teach high school students in the area of math, collect articles that have strategies that are found to be effective with high school students and in the area of math). A list of Websites where you can find good articles are detailed on the companion Website (under supplementary materials) listed below. Submit completed portfolio to the assignments dropbox.
  4. Meet with a parent of a child with disabilities and an educator (special education or general education teacher). Guidelines and interview questions will be provided. After the meetings, write a summary of your findings and your personal/professional reflections then submit them as one document in the assignment dropbox. (25 points).
  5. Three page paper discussing the general education teacher's responsibilities under NCLB (No Child Left Behind) for the instruction of students with disabilities. (25 points) Submit to the assignments dropbox. 

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:

Your textbook is usually packaged with a Video Workshop CD and student guide. This is for your independent use only. 

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:

The dates for the quizzes and the final are listed in the course calendar. You will be given a 48 hour time period to complete the quizzes and the final (these are not proctored). All the tests are timed (i.e., you have 30 minutes for each of the quizzes and 90 minutes for the final and you will have to complete them within that time frame) you will have only one chance to take them. Please, don't take the quizzes in groups or share questions with other students. The answers will be released only after all the students had taken the test.

For the intervention portfolio/article searches and other class activities, you are encouraged to work in groups. However, your written responses should be your own and not copied from other student's response. Any violation will be treated as an incident of academic dishonesty.

Grading Procedures:

All assignments are awarded points. Course grades are determined by the percentage of possible points earned. You will be graded on an absolute standard. All assignments should be typed, doubled-spaced in Word unless otherwise noted.

Grading Scale:

90 - 100--A

80 - 89--B

70 - 79--C

60 - 69--D (This grade is not available at the graduate level at all universities.)

This grading scale emphasizes research papers, article portfolio critiques, other assignments, projects, and student attendance and participation in the learning community as well as timed quizzes and final examination.

Assignments and Projects:


  1. Quiz 1--Overview of Special Education
  2. Quiz 2--Learning Disabilities
  3. Quiz 3--Mental Retardation
  4. Quiz 4--Communication Disorders
  5. Quiz 5--Behavioral Disorders
  6. Quiz 6--Orthopedic and Health Impairments
  7. Quiz 7--Sensory Impairments
  8. Quiz 8--Low Incidence Disabilities

Final Exam

Class Activities (10 points each): There are a total of 29 class activities that require your written responses. The activities in the module and are due before you take the quiz in that module. Some activities require you to submit your reflections to the Dropbox on this course Website, some require you to download note guides and fill the information as you view the PowerPoint presentations. A list of assignments are listed below.

Module 1

Activity 1: WHO classification--Post assignment to the Discussion Board.

Activity 2: Chapter 1: Inclusive education reflective questions--Dropbox

Activity 3: Chapter 4: Identifying and programming for students reflective questions-- Dropbox

Activity 4: Comparison of three federal laws (note guide)--Dropbox

Activity 5: Federal laws assignment--Dropbox

Activity 6: IDEA pre-referral and referral process--Dropbox

Module 2

Activity 7: Simulations: Misunderstood Minds--Dropbox

Activity 8: Chapter 6: Learning Disabilities reflective questions--Dropbox

Module 3

Activity 9: Chapter 8: Mental retardation reflective questions--Dropbox

Activity 10: Lesson plan with functional skills--(utilize Tennessee Dept. of Education websites for curriculum standards and assessment provided in the "Outline of Tasks" for Module 3. Use the Web as a resource to research technology to include the lesson plan)--Dropbox

Activity 11: Mental retardation definition--Dropbox

Activity 12: Mental retardation note-guide--Dropbox

Module 4

Activity 13: Chapter 11: Communication disorders reflective questions--Dropbox

Module 5

Activity 14: Chapter 7: Emotional/behavioral disorders reflective questions--Dropbox

Activity 15: Chapter 14: Classroom organization and management reflective questions--Dropbox

Activity 16: Classroom rules and procedures--Dropbox

Activity 17: Behavioral management plan--Dropbox

Module 6

Activity 18: Chapter 10: Health problems and physical disabilities reflective questions-- Dropbox

Module 7

Activity 19:Sensory simulations (Hearing impairments)--Dropbox

Activity 20: Chapter 9: Sensory impairments reflective questions--Dropbox

Activity 21: Visual impairments simulation--Dropbox

Module 8

Activity 22: Chapter 12: Gifted reflective questions--Dropbox

Activity 23: Understanding accelerative options--Dropbox

Module 9

Activity 24: Chapter 10: Low incidence disabilities reflective questions--Dropbox

Module 10

Activity 25: Chapter 5: Attention deficit disorder reflective questions--Dropbox

Activity 26: Chapter 13: At-risk reflective questions--Dropbox

Module 11

Activity 27: Chapter 2: Inclusive classrooms reflective questions--Dropbox

Activity 28: Chapter 15/16: Teaching students with special needs in elementary/secondary schools (either one) reflective questions--Dropbox

Module 12

Activity 29: Chapter 3: Working with families reflective questions--Dropbox 

Intervention Portfolio:

This is due by the date on the course calendar. Please submit your typed summaries with articles (scan them or send the URL of the Web-site where you located the article). You need to have all the 10 articles with summaries submitted to the Dropbox by the due date.  

Class Participation:
  1. Students are expected to post an introduction to the discussion board on the first day of the course. Students are expected to provide some information about themselves (for example, their past experiences with students with disabilities, their areas of related interests, their online course experiences and technology skills.
  2. On the second day of the course, all students are expected to seek any needed clarifications about the course schedule or requirements, and whether they have the textbook.
  3. Students will go through all the content modules and complete module activities on or before the due dates before they take the quiz on the content of the module. Students will post their comments on the Discussions board at least once for every module after viewing the “Chapter” PowerPoint presentations. The reflective questions are listed in the last slide of the PowerPoint presentations and in the "Outline of Tasks" in each module.
  4. Students are expected to communicate with the instructor as a learning resource and students must check the course bulletin board frequently for announcements. 
Late Policy:
  1. Students are expected to post an introduction to the discussion board on the first day of the course. Students are expected to provide some information about themselves (for example, their past experiences with students with disabilities, their areas of related interests, their online course experiences and technology skills.
  2. On the second day of the course, all students are expected to seek any needed clarifications about the course schedule or requirements, and whether they have the textbook.
  3. Students will go through all the content modules and complete module activities on or before the due dates before they take the quiz on the content of the module. Students will post their comments on the Discussions board at least once for every module after viewing the “Chapter” PowerPoint presentations. The reflective questions are listed in the last slide of the PowerPoint presentations and in the "Outline of Tasks" in each module.
  4. Students are expected to communicate with the instructor as a learning resource and students must check the course bulletin board frequently for announcements. 

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 January 16, 2018