Online Master of Education Curriculum and Learning Objectives

The Tulane SoPA MEd curriculum equips students with the critical assessment skills to be exceptional leaders who create ethical, equitable, and high-quality teaching and learning environments in which all learners can reach their highest potential.

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Based in Theory, Learned in Practice

Our esteemed Tulane faculty developed these courses to provide students with a robust understanding of American education systems, the curricula and learning designs underpinning them, and the research methods used to critically assess and improve them. 

Students complete five required core courses, then fulfill their remaining MEd credits through a selection of electives. Those students who wish to specialize can earn a graduate certificate by taking four courses associated with one of three fields of study: Equity-Centered Education Leadership, Learning Experience Design, and Teaching English Learners. Those seeking a graduate certificate in Special Education must take six courses.

Students interested in earning a standalone certificate may do so without completing the graduate degree. The admissions process for both MEd- and certificate-seeking applicants is identical.

Foundational education concepts firmly ground all aspects of our curriculum. Many courses culminate in an experiential component. In combining American education tenets with a keen focus on applied learning, the Tulane SoPA MEd program prepares students to be competent leaders with the knowledge and skills to create more innovative, inclusive, and equitable teaching and learning practices upon graduation.

Master of Education Core Courses

The following five courses guide all master’s candidates on the journey from theory to practice. After contextualizing the American education system, students explore learning processes, means of assessment, and research methods. They conclude by applying their knowledge in a comprehensive capstone.

With the lens of equity as its central organizing theme, this course provides a foundation for understanding the various aims, systems, and issues central to the development of American education over time. The course surveys major developments, landmark cases, and a variety of philosophical perspectives that underpins PreK-12 education in its current manifestations with the systems across Greater New Orleans serving as the central case study. Emphasis is placed on schools’ ever-widening umbrella to provide for greater measures of inclusivity and choice for all learners. The course culminates in an examination and “stabilization” of foundational concepts in American education, with a specific eye for the impact on schools and communities over time.

3.0 Credit Hours

Examines theoretical and empirical perspectives from the field of education regarding how infants, toddlers, children, adolescents, and adults learn. Factors that influence and structure learning are a primary focus, as are the advantages and limitations of various theories of learning. The course spotlights the current emphasis on “trauma-informed practices” across Greater New Orleans, adopting an inductive approach that ultimately examines how theory informs practice. The course culminates in students developing, designing, implementing, assessing, and critiquing a learning experience from multiple student perspectives to ensure equity in access, opportunity, and success.

3.0 Credit Hours

Provides the foundation for narrowing the gap between the intended, implemented, and achieved curriculum in a given educational context. The course examines definitions and models for high-quality curricula while unearthing the aims of education implied by the standards for excellence used; it also examines approaches to learning standards and their relationship with learner-centered educational approaches to teaching. Instructionally, the course surveys foundational mindsets, classroom management, instructional strategies, and student motivation through the lens of culturally relevant practices. It also examines the best avenues for assessing learning, particularly in the ongoing high-stakes environments of public education. With New Orleans as a learning laboratory of differing approaches, the course culminates in an examination of current realities versus ideal practices with respect to the question: Does all really mean all?

3.0 Credit Hours

Provides an introduction to empirical research and a variety of research approaches common to the field of education. Throughout the course, students locate, understand, evaluate, and interpret qualitative, as well as quantitative educational research. Readings include studies from different research paradigms and a variety of educational contexts, including the research basis for equity-focused instruction. The course culminates in applying what we know from research and best practices to improve a targeted aspect of education in Greater New Orleans.

3.0 Credit Hours

In this course, students apply concepts, theories, best practices, knowledge, and principles as learned throughout the program. Students grapple with the complexities of teaching and learning by testing concepts, strategies, and approaches in real-world contexts. Through a site-based immersion project completed through options such as fieldwork, internships, or simulations, students demonstrate a mastering of the program competencies and learning objectives. Students present findings through written reports and presentations that are subject- and context-specific, tailored to the appropriate audiences, and clear on the implications for teaching and learning. MEd program students with less than three years of relevant work experience participate in a capstone with an experiential, site-based component where a project is shaped and applied on site.

3.0 Credit Hours

Equity-Centered Education Leadership Courses

These courses equip students to promote equitable education in a wide range of settings, both private and public. Graduates will answer the need for stabilizing, well-informed leaders within America’s dynamic educational landscape.

Supports education leaders in developing and communicating a vision and strategy for student success centered on excellence and equity for all. The early part of the course includes the influence of history on the features and limitations of the current system, including the educational implications of race, poverty, and “difference” at large. The course investigates shifts in learning, management, and equity, as well as a survey of promising systemic reforms and strategies such as integrated student supports, collective impact, and cross-sector collaboration. Key skills of effective education leaders include communicating and building support for vision and change. Students develop a public narrative and strategic communication plan around their educational vision and strategy.

3.0 Credit Hours

Provides an overview of leadership and policy topics relevant to leadership in the education sector through four modules. For the policy module, topics include federal, state, and local education policy development; the influence of law and policy on schooling over time; and the role of education leaders in policy advocacy and enactment. The course includes a module on the politics and contextual factors involved in leading in collaboration with a school board. A third module on school law provides an overview of the most significant legal issues in public elementary and secondary schools, and implications for leading and decision-making. The final module centers on the effective and sustainable education leader with an emphasis on growing the ability to understand, engage, and effectively support and challenge others and creating conditions for equitable school and system transformation and governance. The course will use case studies and live cases with current education leaders to engage students authentically in the field.

3.0 Credit Hours

Examines leading learning of students and adults. Focus areas include the nexus of John Dewey’s “child and the curriculum,” which posits that student investment is integral to the learning process; the centrality of the instructional task as predictive of student learning; the challenges of improving instruction for each learner; developing, enacting, and scaling vision for learning and then managing for it; and the role of evidence in making decisions about instructional practice. The course also addresses the role of the leader’s identity and previous learning experiences in leading the learning of others, and the implications for guarding against bias. Throughout the course, students examine current systems of learning through classroom observations, interviews with leaders in the field, and case studies.

3.0 Credit Hours

Surveys system-wide leadership in terms of organizational design, planning, oversight, and progress monitoring through the specific aspects of governance, operations, development, finance, and management. These components of organizational viability impact all aspects of programming and are therefore critical to education leadership at all levels. Becoming an effective and sustainable education leader lies at the center of this course with an emphasis on growing the ability to understand, engage, and support and challenge others and create conditions for equitable school and system management, governance, and transformation. The course uses case studies and simulations from both traditional public and charter settings from the New Orleans context.

3.0 Credit Hours

Provides the foundation for equity-centered educational leadership and the power of effective communication. With the school as the central organizing body, we examine the connections among school personnel, students and families, and community members and groups and the difficulties associated with balancing policy with widespread participation in the educational enterprise. We investigate channels for identifying, gathering, and using data to inform programming, whether through needs analyses, action research, or participatory processes that serve to disrupt the status quo and empower individuals to thrive. A series of cases highlight the urgency of making the implicit explicit with respect to the hidden agenda of schooling and unpacking false narratives around difference.

3.0 Credit Hours

Supports education leaders in managing change and leading transformation in ways that create the conditions for discernible impact: excellence for all. We begin with a survey of how law and policy drive change over time and the role education leaders play in policy enactment and advocacy. With change as the one anticipated constant, the course investigates shifting priorities that affect the outcomes and impact we seek. An examination of systemic reforms and strategies that have failed helps future leaders to determine what went wrong and highlight promising practices that emerge from effective change management. We put data — mining for, gathering, analyzing, using to drive improvement — front and center, as well as standards of excellence for guiding and gauging success. The course recaps the previous four to pressure test that the vision, talent and learning systems, organizational function, and impactful participation are in place and driving the organization toward achieving results. Students will develop a public narrative and strategic communication plan around their vision and strategy for change.

3.0 Credit Hours

Introduces students to public school finance and budgeting systems in the U.S. Budgeting and finance impact all aspects of schooling and education and are therefore critical to education leadership at all levels. Focus areas include the budgeting process; the politics of budgeting; district and school cost drivers; revenue generation including federal, state, and local funding sources; norm-based budgeting; weighted-student funding; cost-benefit analysis; benchmarking; key performance indicators (KPIs) and objectives and key results (OKRs). Questions include: How can budgeting reflect the values and priorities of schools and systems? What are the equity implications of education budgeting and finance? What are the economic and financial drivers that maintain or disrupt the status quo? The course will use case studies and simulations from both traditional public and charter settings with special emphasis on the New Orleans context.

3.0 Credit Hours

Learning Experience Design Courses

The following courses combine the art and science of creating goal-oriented, inclusive, learner-centered experiences. Students will graduate with an understanding of the trends, processes, and technologies integral to advancing the field of learning experience design.

Introduces students to historical and contemporary learning theories, frameworks, and models; instruction systems design, processes, and analysis; learning technology innovations; ethics and equity, diversity, and inclusion within the field of instructional design. Using a practice-oriented approach and real-world case studies, students will gain experience applying instructional design principles to solve learner-centered design challenges.

3.0 Credit Hours

Examines a range of theories, skills, and processes for designing and developing interactive, learner-centered educational materials. Using a practice-oriented approach and real-world case studies, students will learn to apply learner experience design (LXD) principles and processes to create authentic, inclusive learning experiences using an interactive design studio while developing their design thinking skills.

3.0 Credit Hours

Examines emerging learning technologies and their application to learning and education. Some included technologies are the internet of things (IoT), augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML). Students will explore emerging learning theories and methodologies, and emerging learning behavior models for inclusive learning design in fast-changing, innovative digital spaces. Using case studies, students will research, read, reflect on, and discuss real-world learning challenges and viable solutions founded in emerging learning technologies and theories.

3.0 Credit Hours

Introduces students to learning technologies, surveying current tools, applications, software, and hardware, and learner experience design applications including interactive media, video, editing, and digital design. Students gain hands-on experience in identifying, creating, implementing, and evaluating learning technologies for inclusive learner-centered design. Using a practice-oriented approach and real-world case studies, students will begin to learn design thinking to change the way we engage diversified learners in online education.

3.0 Credit Hours

Investigates game-based learning (GBL) and gamification applications, including game-design elements and principles, GBL technologies, gaming literacies, gaming models, simulations, immersive learning and virtual reality, and augmented reality from a diversified learner experience lens including adult learners in higher education, corporate environments, and K-12. Students explore the potential of current GBL and analyze its role in education from a historical perspective.

3.0 Credit Hours

Investigates mobile learning principles and strategies through the lens of learning equity. Students will research, read, reflect on, and discuss mobile learning applications in online learning. Using a practice-oriented approach and real-world case studies, students will apply learner experience design principles and processes to their own mobile learning design project using an interactive design studio.

3.0 Credit Hours

Teaching English Learners Courses

These courses guide students to identify opportunity gaps in educational practices that affect multi-language learners. Graduates will be able to address these inequities with evidence-based strategies and advocate for more inclusive learning environments.

Introduces students to English language structures, English language use, second language development, and language processes to support and ensure success of multilingual learners of English. Students examine and assess how, when, and why core concepts and ideas from language acquisition and linguistics impact the teaching and learning of multilingual learners of English. Upon completion, students identify, understand, and explain the nature of language-learning challenges arising in the use of reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills across different content areas. They develop and elaborate plans for instructional and learning techniques and strategies to address those language-learning challenges. For students pursuing an MEd, this course also includes an in-depth examination of the grammar of spoken and written English. This results in students having the ability to analyze and explain language use and language-use errors from a discourse perspective that considers the authentic use of language in context versus the prescribed use of decontextualized language. Students pursuing an MEd also investigate the research techniques and tools of corpus linguistics and develop plans, strategies, and techniques for applying and sharing their knowledge with learners and colleagues.

3.0 Credit Hours

Introduces students to the sociocultural contexts that impact language teaching, learning, and acquisition to support and ensure the development of equitable and inclusive classroom and school environments for multilingual learners of English. Students examine and assess the role that intercultural communication plays in how and why teachers and learners behave and communicate as they do. At the completion of this course, students identify, understand, and explain real and potential communication breakdowns in instructional and assessment practices that impact language learning and acquisition. They recommend and design instructional and assessment strategies that demonstrate and build intercultural awareness and communication skills in teachers of multilingual learners of English and learners themselves. Students pursuing an MEd also review academic research on the intercultural awareness and intercultural competence of pre-service and in-service teachers, and they compose a white paper for the Department of Education outlining the gaps in professional development, as well as a rationale for suggested changes.

3.0 Credit Hours

Introduces students to the concept of English learner (EL)-inclusive curriculum and materials design for multicultural classrooms. Students survey the steps of the curriculum and materials-design process to identify opportunities for instructional decision-making that lead to greater inclusivity for multilingual learners of English. They also examine and explain the ways in which curricula and materials create or do not create inclusive learning experiences for multilingual learners of English in multicultural classrooms. At the completion of this course, students propose and enact modifications to curricula and materials that create greater EL-inclusivity in multicultural classrooms. For students pursuing an MEd, this course also includes investigation into the academic research on the lack of inclusivity and bias in standardized tests and other curriculum-mandated assessments.

3.0 Credit Hours

Introduces students to evidence-based approaches, techniques and instructional strategies used to create supportive, learner-centered environments for multilingual learners of English. Students develop and apply an understanding of how and why the principles and instructional strategies of content-based language learning can be effectively used to provide grade-level, standards-based instruction for multilingual learners of English. At the completion of this course, students analyze and evaluate the appropriateness of materials and resources for multilingual learners of English, as well as use scaffolding strategies to provide comprehensible input for multilingual learners of English. They design content-based, grade-level, standards-based lessons for multilingual learners of English using the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) model. Students pursuing an MEd examine academic research on the use of two different pedagogies associated with culturally responsive or culturally relevant education (e.g., trauma-informed pedagogy, funds of knowledge approach, equity pedagogy, indigenous pedagogy, etc.) and evaluate the impact that combining the principles/practices of these pedagogies with the use of the SIOP model might have on multilingual learners of English.

3.0 Credit Hours

Special Education Courses

The following courses support teachers toward licensure by establishing a strong foundation in special education best practices and related research. After applying their knowledge in various real-world contexts, teachers will graduate as qualified educators who can honor and accommodate learning differences.

Introduces students to the collection and use of comprehensive assessment and evaluation data to ensure the success of students with high-incidence disabilities. Students analyze frameworks for assessment and evaluation to underscore the sequences, procedures, and decisions involved in a comprehensive process. Topics include collecting data through multiple measures to drive informed decisions about identification, eligibility, individualized education plan (IEP) creation, services, and instruction. It also targets curriculum resources and intervention strategies with an emphasis on tiered planning and implementation. At the completion of this course, students identify, understand, and implement evidence-based practices on data usage with a particular emphasis on using data to design instructional and behavioral interventions necessary for building on individual strengths and addressing the needs of students with disabilities. Graduate students will deepen these understandings of assessment and evaluation through extensive review of the latest research from the field and apply these understandings in a culminating task based on the assessment and evaluation of two actual students found in a case study scenario.

3.0 Credit Hours

Focuses on the knowledge and skills necessary to form productive, collaborative relationships with the adults in a student-with-disabilities ecosystem: family, para-educators, general educators, building leaders, and service providers. Emphasis is placed on building and maintaining relationships with all stakeholders while adhering to federal and state policies and effectively implementing special education programming. Course topics include culturally proficient collaboration in schools, community systems and families; vision setting and high expectations for all students; emotionally intelligent partnership; and transforming historical and philosophical perspectives and practices of education students with differing needs. At the completion of this course, students describe, plan for, and implement best practices in team collaboration and communication for the benefit of students. Graduate students also conduct a literature review on collaborative and participatory practices in education and design a model and set of recommendations for improving teaming models in a real-life context.

3.0 Credit Hours

Examines various ways of assessing student knowledge and identifying and implementing evidence-based practices to increase the success of students with disabilities in mathematics, social studies, science, and English language arts, primarily in grades 3-12. Students learn best practices for understanding and evaluating curricular demands, monitoring student progress in content-area courses, providing tiered supports and accommodations in teaching, using assessment and grading alternatives, and incorporating the principles of explicit and strategic instruction to design methods that promote and enhance content-area learning. This course also presents the needs for specialized services to meet specific learning and/or behavioral needs and provides the basic frameworks for conceptualizing best practices, including the principles of Universal Design for Learning and Multi-Tier Systems of Support (MTSS). At the completion of this course, students evaluate and design initial instructional accommodations and interventions for meeting the needs of students with high-incidence disabilities. Graduate students extend their understanding by researching broad-based instructional practices that benefit diverse learners in whole-group instruction; they also conduct an audit of classroom instruction across a grade level or content area in an actual school and devise practical recommendations based on their findings.

3.0 Credit Hours

Provides in-depth learning experiences targeting literacy. Students learn about assessment tools and assessment systems used in tiered support frameworks to determine the required intensity of literacy support and instruction needed by children/adolescents with high-incidence special education needs. The course also provides evidence-based instructional approaches and effective curricula that have been developed for students with disabilities and students who face other educational challenges. At the completion of this course, students evaluate and design specialized literacy instruction tailored to the specific strengths and needs of their students. Graduate students conduct and write a review of related research, survey literacy in a live school environment, and create recommendations aimed at improving practice overall.

3.0 Credit Hours

Provides a framework for individualizing behavioral supports using a functional behavioral paradigm. Students learn theory, core concepts, and applied methods involved in functional behavioral assessment (FBA) that translate into evidence-based prevention and intervention planning. Special attention is given to the student-in-context: ecological systems, intraindividual factors such as trauma, medical considerations, and family phenomenologies, and school initiatives such as multi-tiered systems of support. At the completion of the course, participants conduct functional behavioral assessments, create evidence-based and individualized support plans, and critique the theory and practice of this specific and specialized form of behavioral support planning vis-a-vis cultural, theoretical, and practical experiences of themselves as practitioners and the students they serve. Graduate students analyze research and then design and deliver a professional development seminar to schools they identify as needing improvement in the area of FBA and behavioral intervention planning. Note: This course is part of the required course sequence for the elementary grades “mild-moderate add-on special education certification” in the state of Louisiana.

3.0 Credit Hours

Develops students’ proficiency in career development and self-determined transition planning and education for persons with disabilities from middle school through adulthood. Emphasis is placed on requirements per the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for transition services, career development, and best practices in the transition processes. At the completion of this course, educators develop a background and framework for fostering post-secondary success necessary for leading IEP teams through the development of a student-centered plan focused on the knowledge and skills necessary for successful transition to college, career, and independent living. Graduate students analyze research and then design and deliver a professional development seminar to schools they identify as needing improvement in the area of FBA and behavioral intervention planning. Note: This course is part of the required course sequence for the grades 4-8 and 6-12 “mild-moderate add-on special education certification” in the state of Louisiana.

3.0 Credit Hours

Explores the use of technology, services, and accessible design principles that serve to support students with disabilities in meeting their goals. Students are introduced to instructional technology, explore a variety of low- and high-technology tools and services, and apply accessible design principles to create effective and meaningful instruction for all students. At the conclusion of this course, students apply a problem-solving approach for identifying and selecting appropriate technological tools and services based on student need; they also identify and plan for instructional practices that provide access and promote success for students with disabilities. Graduate students conduct a review of related research to identify the most promising practices in assistive technology and then design and deliver a professional development seminar to schools they identify as needing improvement in the area of FBA and behavioral intervention planning.

3.0 Credit Hours

Learning Objectives 

Over the course of the program, students will develop four competencies rooted in the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that align with elements of the National Educational Leadership Preparation recognition standards (NELP).* 

The minds behind our MEd intentionally created coursework, applied exercises, and partnerships with practitioners across a broad range of education settings to help students cultivate the following competencies:

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Ethics and Professional
Norms

Understand and demonstrate the capacity to advocate for ethical decisions and cultivate and enact professional norms.

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Equity, Inclusiveness, and Cultural Responsiveness

Develop and maintain a supportive, equitable, culturally responsive, and inclusive school culture.

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Learning and Instruction

Evaluate, develop, and implement coherent systems of curriculum, instruction, data systems, supports, and assessment.

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Building Professional Capacity

Build the school’s professional capacity, engage staff in the development of a collaborative professional culture, and improve systems of staff supervision, evaluation, support, and professional learning.

*The National Educational Leadership Preparation (NELP) standards were developed by a committee of stakeholder communities from across the country and guide program design, accreditation review, and state program approval. NELP operates as part of the National Policy Board for Educational Administration (NPBEA), a nonprofit national alliance of organizations committed to the advancement of school/school-system leadership. NPBEA is the recognized hub organization for the educational administration profession and works to improve preparation and practice of educational leaders.