General Course Information for SPD642: Academic Instruction M/S

Course: SPD642 - Academic Instruction M/S
Textbook: For the correct edition of the textbook assigned to a specific class, go to:

Course Description:

This course covers identifying and teaching academic content for students with severe disabilities across the educational placement continuum, including instruction in the general curriculum, use of Universal Design principles, and a functional skills approach. The course presents methods for determining functional skills, curriculum selection, development and adaptation to approximate the general education curriculum using the California curriculum frameworks and State standards. Assessment in all areas of academic instruction is emphasized.

Course Learning Outcomes:
  • Integrate and apply knowledge of the characteristics, including the learning characteristics of students with moderate/severe disabilities;
  • Derive a target set of instructional objectives for a student between the ages of 3 and 22 by conducting an ecological inventory;
  • Identify how the principle of partial participation would be included in teaching functional academics;
  • Contrast a top-down analysis with a developmental or bottom-up analysis;
  • Perform a performance discrepancy analysis;
  • Derive individualized functional instructional objectives, considering the child's current age and potential future targets;
  • Write comprehensive lesson plans connected to grade level standards in Reading/Language Arts, Math, Science, Health, and the Arts (Art, Music, or Drama);
  • Implement a teacher (candidate)-made curricular material to teach a skill in the area of Reading/Language Arts or Math, to a student with moderate/severe disabilities;
  • Create a lesson plan incorporating the principles of Universal Design to teach a lesson to general education students and students with moderate/severe disabilities in an inclusive setting.
Course Requirements:

Complete assigned readings in text and participate in class discussions and activities. Completion of a project of a student, delineating an ecological inventory and performance discrepancy. The performance discrepancy and prioritize the instructional objectives for this student. Unit of Instruction consisting of 5 lesson plans to teach Academics to students with Moderate/Severe disabilities. Lessons will be based on CA grade level content standards. At least one lesson in this unit of instruction will incorporate the principles of Universal Design to teach a lesson to general education students and students with moderate/severe disabilities in an inclusive setting (This Unit of Instruction will be combined with the 5 lessons from the Unit of Instruction created in SPD 19 Life Skills and Transition course and placed in the candidate's portfolio as a signature assignment.) Implementation and assessment of a teacher (candidate)-made curricular material to teach an instructional objective in Reading/Language Arts or Math derived from the completed ecological inventory and performance discrepancy.

Students with Disabilities:
Students seeking special accommodations due to a disability must submit an application with supporting documentation, as explained under this subject heading in the General Catalog. Instructors are required to provide such accommodations if they receive written notification from the University.

Writing Across the Curriculum:
Students are expected to demonstrate writing skills in describing, analyzing and evaluating ideas and experiences. Written reports and research papers must follow specific standards regarding citations of an author's work within the text and references at the end of the paper. Students are encouraged to use the services of the University's Writing Center when preparing materials.

The following website provides information on APA, MLA, and other writing and citation styles that may be required for term papers and the like:

National University Library:
National University Library supports academic rigor and student academic success by providing access to scholarly books and journals both electronically and in hard copy. Print materials may be accessed at the Library in San Diego or through document delivery for online and regional students. Librarians are available to provide training, reference assistance, and mentoring at the San Diego Library and virtually for online or regional students. Please take advantage of Library resources:


Contact the Library:

  • (858) 541-7900 (direct line)
  • 1-866-NU ACCESS x7900 (toll free)

Use the Library Training Tools (on the Library Homepage) for additional help

  • Recorded class presentations
  • Tutorials & Guides (APA/MLA, Peer-Review, and more)

Plagiarism is the presentation of someone else's ideas or work as one's own. Students must give credit for any information that is not either the result of original research or common knowledge. If a student borrows ideas or information from another author, he/she must acknowledge the author in the body of the text and on the reference page. Students found plagiarizing are subject to the penalties outlined in the Policies and Procedures section of the University Catalog, which may include a failing grade for the work in question or for the entire course. The following is one of many websites that provide helpful information concerning plagiarism for both students and faculty:

Ethical behavior in the classroom is required of every student. The course will identify ethical policies and practices relevant to course topics.

Students are expected to be competent in using current technology appropriate for this discipline. Such technology may include word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation software. Use of the internet and e-mail may also be required.

Learning to work with and value diversity is essential in every class. Students are expected to exhibit an appreciation for multinational and gender diversity in the classroom.

As a diverse community of learners, students must strive to work together in a setting of civility, tolerance, and respect for each other and for the instructor. Rules of classroom behavior (which apply to online as well as onsite courses) include but are not limited to the following:

  • Conflicting opinions among members of a class are to be respected and responded to in a professional manner.
  • Side conversations or other distracting behaviors are not to be engaged in during lectures, class discussions or presentations
  • There are to be no offensive comments, language, or gestures