Pending final approvals, the University of Michigan-Flint School of Education and Human Services will launch a new Master of Arts in Inclusive Education degree program in Fall 2017.
The completely online program (10 classes/30 credits) aims to help general and special education teachers and early childhood professionals to better meet the academic, behavioral, and social needs of all students by building a successful, inclusive classroom environment, working collaboratively with multidisciplinary professionals, and implementing research-based practices.
When planning the degree curriculum, UM-Flint Education Department program leaders sought feedback from practicing general and special education teachers about what exactly those teachers wanted to learn about inclusion. The curriculum combines research-driven methods and effective practices with the current needs of teachers, allowing teachers ample opportunities to apply what they learn with their own students while receiving supportive feedback and coaching from education faculty.
"The online Master of Arts in Inclusive Education program is one of just a few across the United States," said Mary Jo Finney, associate professor and chair of the UM-Flint Education Department. "It will equip general education teachers with an array of tools so they can reach all of their students equally. It will fill in gaps and empower teachers, infusing confidence in each of them like never before."
Increasing teacher confidence with practice-oriented skills and strategies to manage the learning needs of all their students is a central philosophy for the exciting new graduate program.
Building a Toolbox of Proven Strategies
Offered in an interactive, online format for the convenience of working educators, courses will be taught by doctoral-level education faculty members who have significant classroom teaching experience. They understand the challenges of teaching children and adolescents with varied academic, behavioral, and social profiles in school. In addition to special needs, the courses will help teachers to create a more inclusive environment for children from impoverished homes or with diverse cultural backgrounds.
Program leader Melissa Sreckovic is an assistant professor of education at UM-Flint and has a Ph.D. in education with a concentration in special education. Her research interests include evidence-based practices for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder, best practices for inclusive classroom instruction, and school-based bullying prevention and intervention. She has published many journal articles in these areas and is passionate about helping teachers fill any knowledge gaps of what successful inclusive classrooms can look like.
"In this program, teachers will be applying what they learn in their classroom and getting feedback from their instructor and peers," Sreckovic said. "It will provide an outlet for you to share what you're doing and to see what other people are doing in their classrooms and what's successful for them. Our classrooms are becoming more diverse, and it is imperative that teachers know how to build relationships with all their students and families."
Integrating students with widely diverse special needs and various types of exceptionalities into today's general classroom requires greater ongoing collaboration between special education and general education teachers. The MA in Inclusive Education Program will prepare teachers to do just that.
"The focus of the Inclusive Education master's program is on research-based practices that we know are successful in an inclusive classroom," Sreckovic said. "We're building a toolbox of strategies for teachers to implement. If you pursue this degree, it will have a direct impact on your classroom to help you support all of your students, and you'll be able to use strategies to decrease behavioral problems and facilitate overall student success."