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Master of Education: Curriculum

Curriculum Details


Calvin University’s Master of Education courses combine theoretical knowledge with real-world skills. In your coursework, you will examine issues from a Christian perspective with a focus on social renewal. Through meaningful interactions with faculty and students, along with a practicum option, you will discover ways to become a responsive, visionary leader who inspires transformational growth in the lives of those you teach.

With an emphasis on practical application and experience, our program offers two sought-after concentrations: literacy and inclusion specialist. Coursework can be completed in 20 months.

Core Courses

Graduate study requires a set of advanced academic skills. As such, it is necessary to provide these basic skills to enable new graduate students to be successful. In this course, students will be provided with the training in the basic tools of finding resources, reading and critiquing empirical literature, and academic writing. In addition, students will be introduced to the nature and various approaches to educational research.

This course will center on fundamental questions at the intersection of education, justice, and human flourishing. We will examine key issues surrounding the nature of a good society, the ways in which the global community affects education, and how schooling gets structured by politics and economics. This course will use the faith-based frames of justice and hope in connection with shalom and the kingdom of God to investigate formal education in light of its political, economic, social, and religious contexts. Students will investigate foundational questions around teaching, learning, curriculum, and language as well as structural issues of social class, gender, ability, and race. The aim is for students to articulate their own idea of the purpose of school framed in their own faith-based perspective. The course will leave space for students to explore specific interests and issues.

Building on EDUC 500 Introduction to Graduate Studies in Education, this course engages students further in understanding and examining the theories, methods, and paradigmatic frames of educational research through a biblical lens. In addition, the course prepares students to use data appropriately to support educational and organizational decision-making. Students will learn how to read and critique qualitative and quantitative educational research and will learn how to use research and assessment data to make decisions related to the work of P-12 schools. Prerequisite: EDUC 500.

Because communication is at the heart of teaching, learning and leading, the Graduate Studies Program prepares professional educators to understand and analyze discourse as it shapes educational activity. Teaching and learning communications are shaped and made meaningful by culture, language, mode and circumstance; as well as ideology and power. Abilities to analyze communication as discursive, prepares participants to examine educational activity settings, assess them for equitable participation and design them for more effective and just educational practice.

The dynamic relationship between curriculum as content and as process, between what is to be learned and the instructional practices used to organize and mediate it for students, is at the heart of educational practice. This course focuses on the theory and practice of curriculum and pedagogy, examined in terms of both the perspectives that shape them and the ways in which they serve or fail to serve all learners. Issues addressed include the concept, purpose, and social context of curriculum; the historical perspectives that influence current and future directions; the relationship between curriculum and instruction; and the connection between perspectival commitments, curriculum, and instruction. The course will also address issues and practices related to assessment and instructional technology. Readings, discussions, interaction with practitioners, investigation, and application will form important activities in the development of an understanding of and personal perspective on curriculum and instruction.

Schools and classrooms today reflect an amazing diversity of learners. In any learning community, educators must be prepared to create a learning community that meets the needs of students with a variety of differences in ability, gender, sexuality, race/ethnicity, language, socioeconomic status, and more. Yet the reality of developing just and inclusive educational communities is challenging. Through this course, participants are invited to embark on pathways to inclusion by examining the needs of learners with differences in school contexts. Participants will re-examine commonly held beliefs and practices about identity and difference with the goal of developing inclusive learning communities. Readings and discussions will create opportunities that allow participants to consider how cognitive, socio-cultural, and critical perspectives are tools for thinking about shifting understandings of learners’ differences. Learning excursions and projects will become spaces for integrating and applying new understandings about ourselves and others within teaching/learning practice. The course will specifically focus on linguistic differences, language development, and literacy as they support or impede the inclusion of all learners in educational contexts.

The purpose of this course is to provide students with the opportunity to deepen their understanding of their chosen area of study and to specialize their focus through an extended program of reading guided by an instructor. Students will negotiate with their instructor a program of 2000 pages of reading (or equivalent) in their chosen area and evidence engagement with this literature through written and oral reports.

Multiple workshops are available to choose from.

Inclusion Specialist Concentration (Prerequisite)

This course provides in-depth study of the characteristics of students who are labeled in school as having a disability and who may require a variety of learning supports. It includes study of laws and court decisions, the history of special education, alternative educational arrangements, individualized planning, current issues, and new pedagogical directions in serving exceptional learners in public and private schools. Throughout, a Christian view of persons will be developed that counteracts deficit thinking, recognizes the value and gifts of those who may have been given labels, sees human difference as asset, and fosters interdependence. Twelve hours will be spent outside of class during the K-12 school day in observation and critique of school programs that support learners with disabilities.

Inclusion Specialist Concentration

This course will explore critical strategies for successful inclusive teaching practices that support all learners. Participants will refine their understanding of culturally responsive educational design as they develop complex student learning profiles, research accessible curricular programs and prepare teaching plans for successful learning. Data from individual student assessment will form the basis on which profiles are developed and plans are designed. Course foci will include reading and interpreting assessment data, developing learning profiles that reflect patterns of strengths and weaknesses, preparing or interpreting intervention-specific IEPs, and designing student-centered, evidence-based instructional plans.

How do educators develop and sustain a culturally responsive and inclusive school culture? What is a vision of Christ-centered educational programs and services where all students flourish? Educators in this course will trace the historical, ethical, political, religious, and research literature on policies, programs and practices of inclusive school communities. Through literature, policy, and field case analysis, they will learn about societal and community perspectives and develop skills and dispositions related to program development, implementation, and evaluation that advocate for and respond to all learners and their stakeholders.

The seminar supports the culminating practicum experience in the Inclusion Specialist Program. Students will work in a community of practice to explore the complexity of teaching and leadership to promote a culturally responsive and inclusive culture at multiple levels within a school system. At the heart of the seminar is an action research project carried out in the practicum placement. Students will design, implement, and evaluate inclusive practices, policies, or programs. They will also develop a plan for consultation with teachers and schools to increase culturally responsive inclusive practices, policies, or programs. The seminar will focus on bridging theory, research, and practice to promote culturally responsive inclusive education. The seminar must be taken concurrently with the Inclusion Specialist practicum.

Literacy Concentration

This course meets the state literacy course requirements for professional certification. It is required as part of the Calvin graduate reading specialist endorsement and can be used as an elective in any of the other Calvin MEd programs. In this course, we consider the developmental, socio-cultural and cognitive aspects of literacy teaching with students of all ages. We review literacy practices including fiction, information and discipline specific texts, special interest reading, and work place literacy. The course presents and critiques current positions from which literacy instruction is designed and delivered. It develops participants’ pedagogy as they learn to assess a reader’s abilities and develop instructional responses. Participants enhance their own critical literacy abilities as readers and writers of text. Course participants undertake a case study to complement the course readings, discussion and other learning. Course objectives are met through a deep engagement with a student who has been identified as an “at risk” reader based on classroom performance, ELL status or special education. This authentic engagement, facilitated by professional observations, assessments, and a responsive intervention, fully complements and activates course objectives.

This course examines the social practices and cognitive development by which children progress towards independent abilities to participate in reading activity. Course participants identify young learner’s diverse social-cultural memberships, language abilities and the environmentally influenced experiences that children bring to school. Participants explore the concepts and abilities necessary to the development of new literacy learners. Using research, theory and experience, participants explore, analyze, and practice classroom pedagogies that best nourish each literacy learner’s foundation towards independent abilities for reading and writing.

This course supports educator’s literacy development of middle school students, adolescents and adult literacy learners. Instructional emphases shift from the earlier years. Older literacy learners engage wide-ranging text forms and specialized vocabulary needs. Their school learning and work lives depend on abilities to interact purposefully and knowledgeably with print, digital or electronic texts. Increasingly self-directed, older learners need reading abilities to select apt comprehension strategies; respond critically to a reading; determine the applications of a text to other experience or situations; as well as determine objectives in their production of texts. Course participants: classroom teachers, coaches, resource room educators, community programmers, and adult literacy instructors, develop their professional knowledge and pedagogies to assist viewers and readers become more critical and discriminating readers and producers of texts.

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