Foundations of Exceptionality – EDSP 521

CG • Section 8WK • 07/01/2018 to 12/31/2199 • Modified 09/05/2023

Course Description

A comprehensive course addressing the characteristics of children and youth with disabilities and topics related to models of service delivery, documentation procedures, and legal/ethical issues.

For information regarding prerequisites for this course, please refer to the Academic Course Catalog.


To be effective educators and advocates for children with exceptionalities, it is imperative for special educators to have foundational knowledge of the characteristics of students with disabilities, as well as an understanding of the historical, ethical, and legal requirements and expectations associated with the identification, education, and evaluation of students with disabilities.

Course Assignment

Textbook readings and lecture presentations/notes

Course Requirements Checklist

After reading the Course Syllabus and Student Expectations, the candidate will complete the related checklist found in the Course Overview.

Discussions (2)

Discussions are collaborative learning experiences. Therefore, the candidate is required to create a thread formulating one question from each of the chapters of the assigned Claxton text reading that helps to highlight a key issue that another candidate can answer. In addition to the questions listed, the candidate is to include a short summary of how the Christian perspective was threaded throughout the chapters, including at least one APA-cited Scripture reference from the text. The candidate will then post a reply to 1 classmate’s thread, answering three of the four proposed questions, and backing up their answers with citation support from the Claxton text. (CLO: A, B, C)

Exceptionality Chart Assignment

The candidate will create an exceptionality chart that covers the following: exceptionality and definition (all IDEA, 2014 categories), criteria for services, characteristics, and general teaching methods/instructional strategies/technology.  The candidate is encouraged to begin work on this chart at the beginning of the course and throughout the time leading up to the due date. (CLO: C, D)

Law Analysis Assignments (2)

Law Analysis: Key SPED Laws Assignment

The candidate will complete a grid activity where the main elements of three major laws are compared. (CLO: B)

Law Analysis: Landmark Court Cases Comparison Assignment

The candidate will analyze landmark, special education court cases by stating the facts of the case, the rulings of the case, and the implications for special education. (CLO: B)

IEP Project: IEP Goals Assignment

After reviewing the assigned study resources, the Claxton IEP text, and course presentations, the candidate will use the provided Present Level of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance (PLAAFP) to write three standards-based IEP goals specific to Reading and Decoding (SOLs 2.5–2.10). (CLO: D)

Interview Assignment

Using the questionnaire provided on the assignment template, the candidate will interview an adult family member of an individual with exceptionalities to inquire about their experiences. The candidate is responsible for locating this person and must not contact the School of Education Field Office. Afterwards, the candidate will write an interview summary of at least 500 words and a conclusion of at least 500 words in current APA format. The summary must include at least one journal article and the course textbook as references. (CLO: A, C, D, F)

IEP Project: Final IEP Assignment

An IEP will be completed using a provided Present Level of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance (PLAAFP). While the length of a completed IEP will vary, the candidate must complete all parts of the provided template form, which includes three written, standards-based goals, a list of five accommodations/modifications appropriate to the student in the provided scenario, and a rationale for the placement decision. (CLO: A, C, D)

Pre-ed TPA Practice Task 2 Assignment or IRIS Center Online Learning Module Assignment

Candidates in MAT programs will complete the Pre-edTPA Practice Task 2 Assignment. As part of the licensure process the candidate will be required to log into LiveText and complete Practice Task 2 for the candidate’s particular licensure area. The candidate will review a video submission based on the candidate’s level and content area and then complete and upload the required template. (CLO: D) 

Candidates in M.Ed. or Doctoral programs will complete the IRIS Center Online Learning Module Assignment. Candidates will complete an online module on related services for students with disabilities. Candidates will then address questions on the content of the module in a provide template. (CLO: D)

Community Engagement Project Assignments (CLO: B, C, D )

Part 1 – Plan Assignment

The candidate will submit a template document informing the instructor of their plan for the required 10-hour volunteer service in an educational/community setting, including the supervising organization’s name and other pertinent information.

If a candidate is unable to complete the 10 observation hours within an educational/community setting, they may complete an alternative case study assignment that is based on Feeling Excluded: An Inclusion Teacher’s Guide located in the Kirk, Gallagher, and Coleman text in MindTap. 

Part 2 - Observation Reflection or Case Study Assignment

If the candidate completes the 10 observation hours in a community or school setting, they will follow the instructions for Community Engagement Project: Part 2 - Observation Reflection Assignment.

If the candidate will need to complete the alternative case study, they will follow the instructions for the Community Engagement Project: Part 2 – Case Study Assignment.

Chapter Quizzes (7)

Throughout the course, the candidate will complete quizzes that correspond with the Learn materials. All quizzes are open-book/open-notes and contain 20 multiple-choice questions. The candidate will have 90 minutes to complete each quiz. (CLO: A, B, C)