The Department of Special Education at the University of Kansas provides students with opportunities to gain experience in real world settings including classrooms and other service delivery models with children and youth with and without disabilities. Borrowing from the old adage that practice makes perfect, students are able to hone their teaching skills almost from the first semester in the master's program. Several field experience opportunities are offered to provide meaningful practice that allows students to increase their skills, competence, and confidence. Click on the following headings to learn more about practica/student teaching in these specialty areas.
High Incidence (Adaptive — LD/ID/BD), Low Incidence (Functional — SMD) and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)
Provided here are descriptions of the field-based courses that prepare students for endorsement in the specialty areas of High Incidence (Adaptive Kansas Endorsement) and Low Incidence (Functional Kansas Endorsement). Students preparing to teach children and youth with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) typically complete one or more practicum experiences in ASD as well as a practicum in the curriculum areas of High Incidence (Adaptive) or Low Incidence (Functional), as determined by the academic advisor. For information on these field experiences, contact Deborah Griswold, Ph.D., at email@example.com or 785-864-0701.
Field experience courses are:
- SPED 772 Observation and Participation: Adaptive, Functional and Autism Spectrum Disorders
- SPED 775 Practicum with Exceptional Children and Youth: Adaptive, Functional and Autism Spectrum Disorders
- SPED 875 Advanced Practicum with Exceptional Children and Youth: Adaptive, Functional and Autism Spectrum Disorders
SPED 772 Observation and Participation: Adaptive, Functional and Autism Spectrum Disorders
SPED 772 is a field experience that is recommended for students who are new to the field of special education or to a particular specialty area such as LD, ID, BD, ASD or SMD. Students in the Adaptive, Functional or Autism areas can take SPED 772 upon recommendation by their advisor. International students who would like to observe U.S. classrooms are also encouraged to enroll in this course after consulting with their advisor. The course requires 100 hours of teacher and related service provider observation in school or clinical settings. Students who enroll in this course participate with children and youth to the degree that they and the teacher or provider are willing and comfortable. Students who complete this course will:
- Gain exposure to different classroom or clinical settings
- Increase knowledge about the characteristics of children and youth with disabilities
- Develop impressions about the career path they intend to pursue relative to working with children and youth with disabilities
SPED 775 & 875 Practicum With Exceptional Children and Youth: Adaptive (LD/ID/BD), Functional (SMD) and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)
SPED 775 is a practicum experience for graduate students who are seeking an endorsement in the KS Adaptive or Functional areas and/or an experience (but not endorsement) in the Autism Spectrum program. The SPED 775 practicum is designed to provide intense and direct teaching experiences with children and youth who have sensory, learning and behavioral needs. This practicum must be completed under the supervision of a special education teacher who is qualified and licensed to teach in this area. Students are expected to demonstrate professional conduct, exhibit competency in their classroom teaching experience as well as completing portfolio assignments. This practicum is a requirement for provisional (2-year) endorsement according to the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE).
SPED 875 is the advanced practicum experience. Graduate students who have completed their core courses and who are nearing the completion of their degree typically enroll in SPED 875 to obtain full endorsement. Most students will complete the 875 experience with a cooperating teacher. In some circumstances, individuals who are teaching in a classroom under provisional certification in the area of their degree program may request permission to complete this practicum in his/her own classroom "on-the-job". For example, if at the time of their enrollment a teacher is teaching students in the adaptive area and is seeking full endorsement in the adaptive area they may request an on-the-job practicum. The Field Experience Coordinator and the student's academic advisor will review this request and determine if an "on-the-job" experience is appropriate. Students must demonstrate professional conduct, exhibit competency as a classroom teacher, and complete an action research requirement as well as portfolio assignments.
Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) Specialization & Kansas Endorsement
Students specializing in Autism Spectrum Disorders are required to complete SPED 775 and 875; however, since ASD is not an endorsement area as determined by the KSDE, completing both practica in the ASD area does not lead to a special education endorsement. Thus, students who are in the ASD specialization area must also complete an Adaptive or Functional practicum in order to obtain KS endorsement. Students who complete the practica will:
- Demonstrate their knowledge and skills in the classroom
- Participate in ongoing professional dialogue with their University supervisor
- Collaborate with teachers other than their cooperating teacher
- Complete a portfolio that reflects a wide variety of experiences within the classroom and greater school community that are consistent with the State of Kansas provisional endorsement requirements
- Demonstrate the ability to conduct action research in the classroom setting
- Be prepared to meet the competencies associated with the endorsement standards as determined by KSDE