Loyola University Chicago

John Felice Rome Center

CIEP 339 The Exceptional Child

Summer 2016 - Session II







Adam S. Kennedy, Ph.D.  | Assistant Professor, Early Childhood Special Education

School of Education | Loyola University Chicago
820 N. Michigan Ave.  | Chicago, IL  60611
+1 (312) 915-6857  |  +1 (312) 915-6660 (Fax)


Time:   TBD                                                                Classroom: TBD

Office hours: by appointment


Course Description

This is an introductory course designed to help pre-service teachers and others develop an understanding of characteristics of children with exceptional needs (birth to adulthood).  It will also explore the ways that children are identified, the use of various service delivery models, the importance of universal design for learning, and the role of collaboration with families and organizations at every relevant level.  All types of exceptionality and developmental disabilities will be surveyed including the influence of environmental and biological factors. The implications of exceptionality in a variety of international contexts will be discussed, as well as family systems and critical developmental and systematic transitions, with a goal of identifying universal themes, needs, and practices that optimize development, achievement, self-determination and the rights of individuals with exceptionalities to participate and contribute meaningfully at all levels and in all contexts of modern society. 


Target Audience
This course will be taught in English and is particularly relevant for educators who work with diverse learners (or plan to do so) from early childhood to adulthood. The course is appropriate for any undergraduate student with an interest in human exceptionality and in understanding the specific developmental needs of infants, children, and school-aged individuals with disabilities.


Unique Features of the Rome section of CIEP 339

This course will incorporate international perspectives, policies, research, and resources. The learning experiences in this section of CIEP 339 will take advantage of Rome as a venue for exploring the content and objectives of this course. Students will consider environments, experiences and practices that address the needs of individuals with exceptionalities from birth through adulthood. If possible, the course will include clinical work with a local IB school.


Conceptual Framework and Diversity

As a course with its foundation in the School of Education of Loyola University Chicago, CIEP 339 reflects that school’s conceptual framework: “Professionalism in Service of Social Justice” is infused into all programs and courses within the School of Education.  The underlying beliefs or principles that form the foundation of this framework include sensitivity and concern for others as essential societal values, and also the belief that caring for others will enhance the moral core of our communities and via a ripple effect, our society and the world as well.   A desire to help others is an admirable first step, but collaborating cross-culturally to make a lasting impact beyond the level of the individual involves a more specialized set of competencies, some of which will be emphasized in this course.


Learning objectives:

This course will draw upon a range of international perspectives and, wherever possible, take advantage of the Rome setting to achieve the following objectives. Students will demonstrate knowledge/understanding of:

  • Evolving terminology in the fields of education (including special education), early intervention, developmental psychology, etc., as applied to constructs such as disability, special needs/rights, exceptionality and other related concepts.
  • Connections among international, national, and local policies that impact people with exceptionalities.
  • Historical perspectives on the fields related to education and support for individuals with special needs and their families.
  • Characteristics and educational needs of individuals with a wide range of characteristics commonly classified as exceptional.
  • The interrelationship of biological, developmental, and environmental influences and development from the prenatal period through adulthood, with a special focus on the importance of the period from birth to age five.
  • Evidence-based assessments and interventions for individuals with exceptionalities.
  • The role of assessment in learning and instruction, and construct methods that appropriately evaluate the performance of diverse learners.
  • Collaboration with others (e.g., teachers, parents, community members, candidates, politicians) in advocating for the success of all students and their families.
  • Professionals’ collaborative roles in screening, diagnosis/identification of exceptionalities, and in developing programming plans for children with exceptionalities needs and their families.
  • Assistive and adaptive technology to support learner-centered strategies that address the diverse needs of students.



This course will utilize texts, online resources, policy statements, research reports, curricula, and assessment tools. In addition, other relevant local resources unique to the course’s Rome setting will be utilized to achieve course objectives (wherever possible).


Learning Experiences and Instructional Strategies

Course objectives will be met through a combination of instructor-led lecture and discussion, video presentations, student-led discussion and presentations, in-class activities; and independent study.  Learning experience outside the classroom will be incorporated whenever possible.


Course Topics and Calendar
Refer to the course objectives above for a sample of the topics, themes, and competencies taught in this course. Full calendar, assignment descriptions, and some rubrics will be provided at a later time. Due to the nature of international educational experiences and the ongoing work to develop and situate this course in Rome, registered students must be prepared for the fact that topics and calendar are subject to change.