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Art and Diverse Learners

Examine the history, laws, and perspectives surrounding special education to increase learning and engage diverse learners in the art room.

Although undergraduate art education programs may require one class focused on special education basics, preservice teachers often remain underprepared to meet the diverse needs of the learners they will encounter. With over 14 percent of public school students in the U.S. receiving special education services (NECE, 2021), art educators face a wide range of student needs. This course will introduce art teachers to the history of special education and special education laws defining the rights and responsibilities of both art teachers and their students. Prepare to dig deeper to learn how understanding disability and special education can strengthen the learning process for all students. Participants will examine multiple perspectives on disability, their impact on teaching and learning, and gain a practical understanding of the terms, strategies, and attitudes in the classroom that affect arts learning and the engagement of diverse learners.

See the course syllabus and Graduate Catalog for more details.



Suggested Course Sequence

  1. SPED557: Art and Diverse Learners
  2. SPED559: Adapting the Art Room
  3. SPED561: Classroom Management Strategies for Diverse Learners
  4. SPED563: Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities in the Art Room

Required Materials

Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 7th edition. ISBN 978-1-4338-3216-1

Additional Materials

  • Computer with basic audio and video input and output equipment
  • Internet access (broadband recommended)
  • Basic computing skills (see AOEU’s Technology Requirements)
  • Access to AOEU’s online learning platform, Brightspace, to view course content, submit assignments, and engage in discussion (provided)
  • A Google Drive account (not provided by AOEU)
  • Word-processing platform (Microsoft Office, Pages, Google Docs)
Graduate Credits
All courses will now close at 11 PM Central time on the 27th of each month. Graduate Credits 3 Graduate Credits
Price Graduate Credit $1197.00
Mon 8 Sun
Mar 6 Weeks Apr 30
Upcoming Course Run Dates
Mar 6 Apr 30
Jun 5 Jul 30
AOEU Course Code
Morningside Course Code
EDUC500 AOE057

Course Objectives

  • Investigate the history of special education law as it applies to the art classroom.
  • Create strategies for teachers, schools, and the broader community to advocate for diverse learning populations.
  • Evaluate and compare educational strategies for students with an IEP, 504, or behavioral plan.
  • Design authentic and engaging art experiences that account for student rights through an equity lens.
  • Differentiate educational needs to create an inclusive environment for diverse learners.
  • Develop educational strategies that integrate artists with disabilities.

Course Breakdown

Week 1
Special Education Law and Why it Matters for Art Teachers
  1. Explore the history of special education law and its practical application to the art classroom.
Week 2
Define "Disability" and Examine the Impact of Preconceptions on Teaching and Learning.
  1. Develop strategies that allow teachers, schools, and communities to advocate for diverse populations.
Week 3
IEPs, 504s, Behavior Plans and Meeting Students’ Needs During Virtual Learning
  1. Evaluate and compare strategies to help you understand legal documents.
  2. Learn to develop working relationships with special education staff to better support student needs.
Week 4
Access to Authentic Arts Learning and Making Through Growth Mindset
  1. Gain an understanding of barriers to access.
  2. Develop strategies to mitigate barriers and provide access to authentic art experiences.
Week 5
Expectations and Challenges of Meeting Standards: Embracing Difference
  1. Learn to embrace individual differences and compare educational strategies for meeting standards with diverse learners.
Week 6
Equity and Inclusion in Authentic and Engaging Art Experiences
  1. Explore differentiation methods to meet the needs of diverse learners and create an inclusive environment.
Week 7
Integrating Artists With Disabilities and Exploration of Disability Arts
  1. Understand the difference between artists with a disability and disability artists.
  2. Develop strategies to integrate artists with disabilities.
Week 8
  1. Reflect on your innovative thinking journey from the beginning to the end.

1. Research

Read Art Education and Disability: Re-envisioning Educational Efficiency.

2. Discuss

After reading about models of disability, consider your own perspective. Which model best represents your perspective prior to this course? Has it changed? How so?

3. Practical, Hands-on Application

Based on your learning from course resources about working with students with disabilities and the qualifying disability you chose from the IDEIA Qualifying Disabilities Handout, write 3–4 SMART goals to address changes you would like to make in your classroom.

Let's Get Started

If you know what you need, then go ahead and register.

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