Master in Early Childhood Education: Course Descriptions

Core Courses

ED 550 Foundations in Early Childhood and Inclusive Education (4 credits)
Focus on foundations of and approaches to inclusive early childhood education. Learn about developmental and inclusive practices, develop foundational knowledge and examine and challenge assumptions about inclusive teaching and learning.

ED 551 Child Development in Early Childhood and Inclusive Education (4 credits)
Study a multicultural perspective of child development (i.e., physical, social and emotional, language and literacy, cognitive) for young children (prenatal – preschool) with a range of ability levels. Examine theories of development and how those theories apply to young children with differing ability levels.

ED 552 Issues in Early Childhood and Inclusive Education (4 credits)
Study contemporary issues related to inclusion in early childhood programs for children of all ability levels. Identify and respond to critical issues in contemporary early childhood education as it relates to inclusion. Analyze those issues from a variety of perspectives.

CI 590 Action Research Proposal (3 credits)
In this course, students will write their three-chapter proposal. Chapter one includes a problem statement, research question(s) about your problem and a rationale for study; chapter two is a literature review around your problem; and chapter three explains your context for the study, your methodological approach, data collection instruments, timelines, data analysis procedures and limitations and ethical dilemmas for conducting your research. Designed to help educators see themselves as researchers, in order that they may conduct research in educational settings that contribute to the improvement of education. Research questions and methods appropriate for practicing educators will be covered. Must take this course before CI 591 Action Research Implementation, when you implement your research project proposal.

CI 591 Action Research Implementation (3 credits)
Implement your proposal by utilizing your proposed methods. Write your last two chapters. Chapter four consists of your data results as they related to your questions and chapter five reports your conclusions and implications of your research study. Must take this course after CI 590 Action Research Proposal, when you propose your research project.

Constructivism Specialization

CI 571 Play: Curriculum in Early Childhood Education (3 credits)
Study of stages of play, theory, research on play, cultural differences in play, and adult role in facilitation of play. Curriculum will be reviewed, developed, and integrated with a focus on play for teaching and learning, for child-centered approaches, and for meeting needs of special learners. Prerequisite: Undergraduate early childhood education coursework or teaching experience with young children.

CI 572 Language and Literacy in Early Childhood Education (3 credits)
Helps teachers understand, assess, and promote early experiences with language that contribute to the process of becoming literate.
Recommended prerequisite: Undergraduate early childhood education coursework or teaching experience with young children. Also offered for undergraduate-level credit as CI 472 and may be taken only once for credit.

CI 573 Assessment and Technology in Early Childhood Education (3 credits)
Study of and experience with a range of developmentally appropriate assessment and technology strategies for use in diagnostic, formative, and summative evaluation of growth and development of young children and for appropriate educational decisions in early childhood education settings.
Prerequisite: Undergraduate early childhood education coursework or teaching experience with young children.

CI 576 Equity and Cultural Diversity in Early Childhood Education (3 credits)
Explore developmental early childhood education practices, emphasizing developmentally and culturally appropriate objectives as well as anti-bias learning goals. Develop awareness of quality teaching practices by exploring personal cultural history, gaining insights into living examples of difference, witnessing the effects of bias, and learning to support fairness and issues of equity in a classroom. Also offered for undergraduate-level credit as CI 476 and may be taken only once for credit.

CI 577 Learning Designs: Environments in Early Childhood Education (3 credits)
Study of quality learning environments and design, emphasizing the roles of children’s learning, adult engagement, and the environment as the third teacher. Investigate space planning, program layout, design theories, and aesthetic values. Also offered for undergraduate-level credit as CI 477 and may be taken only once for credit.

CI 578 Constructivist Curriculum: Big Ideas in Early Childhood Education (3 credits)
Examines the possibilities of exploring big ideas deeply over time and across the curriculum with preschool and primary age children. Focuses on the ways that integrated curriculum and project work support children's learning and foster the connections necessary for them to construct knowledge. Students have the opportunity to develop resources and design classroom experiences related to big ideas. Also offered for undergraduate-level credit as CI 478 and may be taken only once for credit.

CI 579 Young Child as a Scientist (3 credits)
Explores developmentally appropriate science for preschool and primary age children, focusing on experimentation and problem-solving. Students experience and design activities for young children around three questions that derive from traditional science content: can I make it move, can I make it change, and how does it fit? In the process, students will learn more about constructivist teaching and curriculum, particularly as applied to science education. Also offered for undergraduate-level credit as CI 479 and may be taken only once for credit.

Infant and Toddler Mental Health Specialization

SPED 510 Introduction to Infant Toddler Mental Health (3 credits)
Introductory course linking theory, research, and practice with interdisciplinary principles and collaboration. Key concepts of mental health of children (birth through 36 months) and their families including attachment, temperament, social-emotional development, context of family, culture and community, risk and resilience. Practices related to observation, screening, assessment, diagnosis; treatment.

SPED 594 Assessment Methods (3 credits)
Develop knowledge and skills to complete the assessment process through multiple sources of information within a culturally relevant context. Topics include selection of tools and methods for information collection, methods for screening and assessment, and use of classification systems.

SPED 595 Prevention and Intervention (3 credits)
Develop an appreciation of the concepts of early intervention and prevention. Examine the range of interventions used in the field of infant mental health. Emphasis is on the importance of treating infants and toddlers in the context of their families and communities. Discuss intervention strategies, including those targeted at children with psychosocial/relational and developmental disturbances as well as those determined to be at risk. Review international, national, and regional programs, established and pilot, in early intervention and prevention. Improve ability to assess and critically evaluate the current science around treatment efficacy of various interventions.

CI 592 Dynamic Models of Infant/Toddler Development (3 credits)
This course provides information on typical infant/toddler mental health development and strategies for working with young children and their families within a culturally sensitive context. Content includes prenatal, perinatal and postnatal development, brain development as well as theories of development, including attachment, resiliency, and self-regulation. Course reading and handouts reflect recommended practices across disciplines when working with young children and their families. Learn to gather and document intake information from families of various ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. Become a link for families to community resources.

COUN 520 Development and Utilization of Collaborative Partnerships to Support Infants, Toddlers, and Their Families (3 credits)
Gain understanding of the family and cultural contexts in which child development occurs. Identify cultural, political, and socioeconomic biases within which mainstream research and theory have emerged. Understand and apply system-of-care concepts and values as they engage in relationship-based consultation. Content includes information about the roles and knowledge bases of specific disciplines as they apply to infant/toddler social/emotional development (e.g., child care, pediatrics, nursing, early intervention, mental health, allied health, child welfare). Learn about the roles and knowledge bases of informal family and community supports as they apply to infant/toddler social/emotional development. Gain knowledge and training related to infant/toddler key transitions from one setting to the next (e.g., from home to community child care, child care to preschool).

COUN 597 Strengths and Risk Factors (3 credits)
Focus on infants, toddlers and their families, and how they cope successfully with life tasks and external stressors. Examine what happens when coping breaks down and problems emerge in families with young children. Be able to:

  • Identify relevant strengths and resiliency factors for infants, toddlers, and their families
  • Understand developmentally relevant risk factors, especially parental mental health issues, and their potential impact on infants, toddlers, and their families
  • Gain knowledge of major forms of psychopathology within infant/toddler mental health

Special Education Specialization

SPED 510 Inclusive Early Childhood Models (3 credits)
Presents different approaches to early childhood education with a focus on inclusion and consultation in typical early childhood settings.

CI 410/510 Young Child, Family, Culture and Language (3 credits)
This course provides students with knowledge of child and family development from a diverse and cultural perspective. Students will explore the role of cultures and theories in providing frameworks for understanding and interpreting child and family growth and development within a cultural context. The course examines specific areas found to be most important for early childhood educators working with young children in the context of their family, culture and language. Specific language focuses are (a) understanding language development, (b) understanding the relationship between language and culture, and (c) understanding how to work with families.

SPED 520 Collaboration I: Families and Communities EL and EI/SE (3 credits)
Designed to develop knowledge in the areas of family systems theory, strengths-based model, information gathering techniques, and collaboration techniques with families and professionals. Information related to cultural competence is infused throughout the course. In addition, students receive information on grief related to having a child with a disability and the death of a student. Students are required to participate in a family conversation project to identify family strengths, concerns, and resources with a family who has a child with special needs.

SPED 580 Introduction to Early Intervention/Early Childhood Special Education (3 credits)
Provides historical, social, and legal foundations for early intervention and early childhood special education and other services to young children with special needs. Introduces concepts and processes for screening and assessment, family-centered planning, blending developmentally and individually appropriate practices, providing learning opportunities in natural early childhood settings, planning environments and activities to include all children, and transition planning. Also offered for undergraduate-level credit as SPED 480 and may be taken only once for credit.

SPED 582 Specialized Techniques: EI/ECSE (3 credits)
Develops specialized knowledge and skills necessary for providing early intervention and early childhood special education services to infants, toddlers, and preschool children with severe and multiple disabilities, including children with physical and sensory impairments, children with health impairments, and children with autism. Also offered for undergraduate-level credit as SPED 482 and may be taken only once for credit.

SPED 583 Communication and Language Development: EI/ECSE (3 credits)
Designed to provide information about typical and atypical communication development, birth through early childhood. In addition, information will include strategies for EI/SE to promote communication development for all children. Also offered for undergraduate-level credit as SPED 483 and may be taken only once for credit.

SPED 586 Instructional Strategies II: EI/ECSE (3 credits)
Develops advanced knowledge and practices for teaching and facilitating development of children with special needs, birth through the primary grades. Builds upon the student's knowledge of individually appropriate practice, applied behavior analysis, and design of individual and group plans for instruction. Develops knowledge and skills for implementation of specific strategies supported by current research and recommended practices, including strategies to support early relationships, peer interaction, social-emotional development, cognitive development, and early literacy.

Additional early childhood education courses (electives)

CI 410/510 Culture and Language in Early Childhood Families (replaces Young Child, Families, Culture and Language) (3 credits)
This course provides students with knowledge of child and family development from a diverse and cultural perspective. Students will explore the role of cultures and theories in providing frameworks for understanding and interpreting child and family growth and development within a cultural context. The course examines specific areas found to be most important for early childhood educators working with young children in the context of their family, culture, and language. Specific language focuses are (a) understanding language development, (b) understanding the relationship between language and culture, and (c) understanding how to work with families.

CI 410/510 Documenting Children’s Learning: Tools and Strategies (4 credits)
In this course, students will explore documenting young children’s group learning experiences, emphasizing the relationships between the children’s learning and adult engagement through collaboration and teacher reflection. Students will expand their current views and ideas about children’s education by investigating and discussing the images of children, teachers, and families in relation to teaching and learning. Students will also learn to pay close attention to details in group learning in order to capture, collaborate on, and reflect on children’s learning. Students will investigate group learning techniques by directly observing project work, finding ways to collect and share documents of children’s group learning experiences, and reflecting on creativity in classroom teaching and learning.

In the end, students will have many opportunities to consider their teaching style and philosophy about documentation design, collaborative techniques and style, and journal writing exercises through readings, presentations, videos, and group discussions. Students will be challenged to examine their own assumptions and commonly held ideas about their pedagogy of teaching and learning through the act of documenting young children’s experiences.

CI 410/510 Educational Rights and Inclusive Environments in Early Childhood (3 credits)
This class explores the collaborative bridge between the work of the early childhood classroom teacher and the intervention services needed to ensure the creation of a truly inclusive classroom. Students will draw on social constructivist perspectives in developing classrooms that are accessible to all children and that recognize that children may have particular educational "rights" (not needs) in order to ensure equity in access and participation.

CI 410/510 Emotional Life of Toddlers (3 credits)
This course explores caregiving practices designed to support learning during this critical period of social and emotional development. Links are made between brain development research and theories to the things that teachers and caregivers do every day with toddlers. Topics include observation, establishing nurturing relationships, planning secure environments, activities designed to engage very young children, and positive guidance strategies.

CI 569 Leading in Early Childhood Education Programs (4 credits)
Develop a strong sense of early childhood leadership identity through multiple lenses of directing, teamwork, and/or coordinating classroom pedagogy and practice. Explore leadership roles in schools for young children including teachers, supervisors, children, and parents. Collaborative and relational dimensions of the early childhood profession are also explored.

CI 410/510 Mathematical Thinking in Early Childhood (3 credits)
This course introduces the issues, ideas, and practices that help young children learn mathematics. Throughout the course, examine how mathematical ideas grow out of children's real-life experiences. Look closely at the role of play in mathematical thinking, and how early childhood teachers and caregivers can best support and influence young children's math acquisition. In addition, learn and create activities that are grounded in current research and knowledge about children's development in numeracy and other math concepts, and focus on practical classroom applications of this research in early childhood classrooms. This course also explores how to nurture mathematical understanding through provocations, design of the environment, and the use of children’s literature and games.

CI 410/510 Reggio Emilia, Italy Study Abroad (3 credits)
This course offers a study tour trip to Reggio Emilia, Italy and helps students to focus their learning within a dialogue framework with Reggio and U.S. Educators. The study tour offers participants time to observe classrooms in action, visitations to many schools, daily dialogue with parents, teachers, and other educators, and reflection about one’s own practice. This class picks up on the students participation by asking them to look deeply at their own practices and beliefs and professionally develop amidst innovative early childhood inspired principles and practices.

CI 410/510 Reggio Studies (1 credit)
In this one credit class, students will explore the ideas central to the Infant/Toddler and Preprimary Schools of Reggio Emilia, Italy. Concepts such as the image of the child, observation and documentation, the environment as 3rdteacher, project work, studio work, and family participation will be introduced and discussed through readings, dialogue, and reflection online using D2L. Students will examine their own beliefs about children and have the opportunity to choose one area to focus in greater depth.
NOTE: This course is not to be confused with the Reggio Study Abroad 3-credit spring course. Although this course offers students an initial opportunity to learn more about their system of education.

CI 410/510 Teaching and Learning with Competent Infants and Toddlers (3 credits)
This course offers an opportunity to explore a social constructivist perspective for developing curriculum that honors infants and toddlers as theory builders and competent learners. Students will study relevant theories about cognitive development and how infants and toddlers learn. Additionally, they will consider how the environment and materials set the stage for learning. The role of teachers as researchers who learn from and about infants and toddlers through careful observation will be examined, as well as their potential for making infant and toddler learning visible through documentation.

CI 410/510 The Arts as a Language of Childhood (3 credits)
This course invites you to consider how children engage in artistic and representational processes as a means of co-constructing knowledge. We will look at how various art mediums become tools children use for exploring ideas and creating theories. Our readings and observations will challenge the assumption that children’s art is product based and reframe the way we understand how the creative process contributes to children’s learning and identity development. Students will explore using diverse art media with children and consider ways to facilitate creative expression and incorporate the arts into an early childhood curriculum. Students will learn practical techniques for introducing children to drawing, painting, clay, wire, found materials, and concepts such as color, texture, movement, and three-dimensional and digital media. The class will include weekly reading, discussion, and reflection.