Courses

The following information is also available in the Vassar College Catalogue.

I. Introductory

162a. Education and Opportunity in the United States (1)

In this course, students identify, explore, and question prevailing assumptions about education in the United States. The objectives of the course are for students to develop both a deeper understanding of the system's historical, structural, and philosophical features and to look at schools with a critical eye. We examine issues of power and control at various levels of the education system. Participants are encouraged to connect class readings and discussions to personal schooling experiences to gain new insights into their own educational foundations. Among the questions that are highlighted are: How should schools be organized and operated? What information and values should be emphasized? Whose interests do schools serve? The course is open to both students interested in becoming certified to teach and those who are not yet certain about their future plans but are interested in educational issues. Ms. Cann.

Fulfills the Freshman Writing Seminar Requirement.

Two 75-minute periods.

II. Intermediate

235a and b. Issues in Contemporary Education (1)

This course introduces students to debates about the nature and purposes of U.S. education. Examination of these debates encourages students to develop a deeper and more critical understanding of U.S. schools and the individuals who teach and learn within them. Focusing on current issues in education, we consider the multiple and competing purposes of schooling and the complex ways in which formal and informal education play a part in shaping students as academic and social beings. We also examine issues of power and control at various levels of the U.S. education system. Among the questions we contemplate are: Whose interests should schools serve? What material and values should be taught? How should schools be organized and operated? The department.

Two 75-minute periods.

237b. Early Childhood Education: Theory and Practice (1)

(Same as Psychology 237) What is the connection between a textbook description of preschool development and what teachers do every day in the preschool classroom? This course examines curriculum development based on contemporary theory and research in early childhood. The emphasis is on implementing developmental and educational research to create optimal learning environments for young children. Major theories of cognitive development are considered and specific attention is given to the literatures on memory development; concepts and categories; cognitive strategies; peer teaching; early reading, math, and scientific literacy; and technology in early childhood classrooms. Ms. Riess.

Prerequisites: Psychology 231 and permission of the instructor.

One 2-hour period; 4 hours of laboratory participation.

250b. Introduction to Special Education (1)

This course explores the structure of special education from multiple viewpoints, including legislative, instructional, and from the vantage of those who have experience in it as students, teachers, therapists, parents, and other service providers. We tackle conceptual understandings of labeling, difference, and how individuals in schools negotiate the contexts in which "disability" comes in and out of focus. We raise for debate current issues in special education and disability studies such as inclusion, the overrepresentation of certain groups in special education and different instructional approaches. Ms. McCloskey.

Two 75-minute periods.

255b. Race, Representation, and Resistance in U.S. Schools (1)

(Same as Africana Studies, Sociology and Urban Studies 255) This course interrogates the intersections of race, racism and schooling in the US context. In this course, we examine this intersection at the site of educational policy, media (particularly urban school movies) and K12 curricula- critically examining how representations in each shape the experiences of youth in school. Expectations, beliefs, attitudes and opportunities reflect societal investments in these representations, thus becoming both reflections and riving forces of these identities. Central to these representations is how theorists, educators and youth take them on, own them and resist them in ways that constrain possibility or create spaces for hope. Ms. Cann.

Two 75-minute periods.

262. The Fairy Tale (1)

The course focuses on European and Asian folk tales, with emphasis on how writers from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries have reinvented the fairy tale while borrowing from traditional sources. Readings may include: Household Tales of the Brothers Grimm, and selections from Hans Christian Andersen, George MacDonald, Lewis Carroll, L. Frank Baum, and Virginia Hamilton. Assignments include critical papers, the writing of an original tale, and the presentation of a traditional tale in class. Ms. Darlington.

Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

One 120-minute period.

Not offered in 2013/14.

263a. The Adolescent in American Society (1)

This course examines the lives of American adolescents and the different ways our society has sought to understand, respond to, and shape them. Particular attention is paid to the relationship between educational policies/practices and adolescent growth and development. Empirical studies are combined with practical case scenarios as a basis for understanding alternative pathways for meeting the needs of middle school and high school learners. This course is required for secondary school teacher certification. Ms. Holland.

Prerequisite: Education 235.

Two 75-minute periods.

269a. Constructing School Kids and Street Kids (1)

(Same as Latin American and Latino/a Studies and Sociology 269) Students from low-income families and racial/ethnic minority backgrounds do poorly in school by comparison with their white and well-to-do peers. These students drop out of high school at higher rates, score lower on standardized tests, have lower GPAs, and are less likely to attend and complete college. In this course we examine theories and research that seek to explain patterns of differential educational achievement in U.S. schools. We study theories that focus on the characteristics of settings in which teaching and learning take place (e.g., schools, classrooms, and home), theories that focus on the characteristics of groups (e.g. racial/ethnic groups and peer groups), and theories that examine how cultural processes mediate political-economic constraints and human action. Ms. Rueda.

275b. International and Comparative Education (1)

(Same as Asian Studies and International Studies 275) This course provides an overview of comparative education theory, practice, and research methodology. We examine educational issues and systems in a variety of cultural contexts. Particular attention is paid to educational practices in Asia and Europe, as compared to the United States. The course focuses on educational concerns that transcend national boundaries. Among the topics explored are international development, democratization, social stratification, the cultural transmission of knowledge, and the place of education in the global economy. These issues are examined from multiple disciplinary vantage points. Mr. Bjork.

Prerequisite: Education 235 or permission of the instructor.

Two 75-minute periods.

278a. Education for Peace, Justice and Human Rights (1)

(Same as International Studies 278) The aim of this course is to introduce students to the field of peace education and provide an overview of the history, central concepts, scholarship, and practices within the field. The overarching questions explored are: What does it mean to educate for peace, justice and human rights? What and where are the possibilities and the barriers? How do identity, representation and context influence the ways in which these constructs are conceptualized and defined and what are the implications of these definitions? How can we move towards an authentic culture of peace, justice, and human rights in a pluralistic world? In order to address these questions, we survey the human and social dimensions of peace education, including its philosophical foundations, the role of gender, race, religion and ethnicity in peace and human rights education, and the function and influence of both formal and non-formal schooling on a culture of peace and justice. Significant time is spent on profiling key thinkers, theories, and movements in the field, with a particular focus on case-studies of peace education in practice nationally and worldwide. We examine these case studies with a critical eye, exploring how power operates and circulates in these contexts and consider ways in which to address larger structural inequities and micro-asymmetries. Since peace education is not only about the content of education, but also the process, the course endeavors to model peace pedagogy by promoting inquiry, collaboration and dialogue and give students the opportunity to practice these skills through presentations on the course readings and topics. Ms. Hantzopoulos.

Prerequisites: Education 162 or 235.

Two 75-minute periods.

284b. Children's Rights (1)

(Same as International Studies 284) Every nation in the world, except for Somalia and the USA, has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). As a result, children's rights are beginning to play a major role in the human rights field generally - constitutions have been modified, legislative frameworks revamped, and dedicated national institutions established. In addition, international organizations and non-governmental groups have sped up their efforts to adopt a child rights framework that supports the development of their programs and policies for children. And yet, the children's rights field remains under-theorized and under-researched. Many scholars and practitioners call for a better understanding of the conceptual and empirical underpinnings of policy and practice in this area. This course focuses on both the theories surrounding, and practices of, children's rights. It starts from the foundational question of whether children really should be treated as rights-holders and whether this approach is more effective than alternatives for promoting well-being for children that do not treat children as rights holders and adopt a HR approach. Consideration is given to the major conceptual and developmental issues embedded within the framework of rights in the CRC. The course covers issues in both the domestic and international arenas, including but not limited to: children's rights in the criminal justice context including life without parole and the death penalty; children's rights to housing and health care; inequities in the education systems; child labor and efforts to ban it worldwide; initiatives intended to abolish the involvement of children in armed conflict; street children; the rights of migrant, refugee, homeless, and minority children; and the commodification of children. Country-based case studies are used to ensure that students come away with a solid understanding of current conditions. The course also explores issues related to the US ratification of the CRC, and offer critical perspectives on the advocacy and education-based work of international children's rights organizations. Ms. Holland.

Two 75-minute periods.

286a. Framing Autism in U.S. Policy and Practice (1)

(Same as American Studies 286) From the iconic autism puzzle piece to the “startling statistics” that are displayed on billboards and in newspapers, autism has captured the attention of the American public. This course will explore the dynamic interplay between the medical, educational, and legal communities with regard to autism research and scholarship. We will discuss different theoretical and methodological stances to the study of disability in general and autism in particular. Investigating autism in a multidisciplinary way will entail reading texts and watching films produced by autistic individuals and engaging in multimodal research that investigates how language and image influence how people perceive autism and autistic people. Ms. McCloskey.

Two 75-minute periods.

290a or b. Field Work (1/2 or 2)

All candidates for certification must demonstrate competency in an intensive field work experience at the elementary, middle school, or senior high school level prior to student teaching. The department.

294. Educational Pedagogy (1)

A research project chosen and conducted in conjunction with the Vassar Study Abroad Program at Cloud Forest School in Costa Rica.

296. Vassar Language in Motion Program (1/2)

The Vassar Language in Motion program provides opportunities for students with advanced expertise in foreign languages and cultures to make guest presentations in local area high school classes. In addition to gaining teaching experience, students will help strengthen foreign language education in Dutchess County schools. Readings and discussions for the accompanying course will address issues of language learning pedagogy, intercultural communication, and assessment. Mr. Schneider.

Enrollment is limited and by permission. Students wishing to participate should have advanced proficiency in French, German, Italian or Spanish as well as some first-hand experience of the culture(s) where the language is spoken (i.e. study abroad, summer programs, or a primary or secondary residence).

Not offered in 2013/14.

297a or b. Independent Reading (1/2)

Student initiated independent reading projects with Education faculty. A variety of topics are possible, including educational policy, children's literature, early childhood education, the adolescent, history of American education, multicultural education, and comparative education. Subject to prior approval of the department. The department.

298a or b. Independent Study (1/2 or 1)

Individual or group projects concerned with some aspect of education, subject to prior approval of the department. May be elected during the regular academic year or during the summer. The department.

299a and b. Vassar Science Education Internship Program (1)

The Vassar Science Education Internship Program provides opportunities for science students from Vassar College to intern with science teachers in area schools for course credit. Students have an opportunity to gain teaching experience, to explore careers in education, and to help strengthen science education in the Poughkeepsie area schools. Each intern works with a science teacher to design a project and to obtain laboratory and/or computer based educational exercise for their class, and to acquire laboratory and/or computing resources for sustaining a strong science curriculum. Interns participate in a weekly seminar on science education at Vassar College. Ms. Coller.


Enrollment is limited and by permission. Students wishing to pursue internships should meet the following criteria: four completed units of course work in the natural sciences or mathematics, with at least two units at the 200-level, a minimum GPA of 3.4 in science and math coursework, and 3.0 overall.

III. Advanced

300a. Senior Portfolio: Childhood Education (1)

This senior seminar focuses on analysis of the student teaching experience. Through the development of their teaching portfolio, senior students examine the linkages between theory, current research, and classroom practice. This course should be taken concurrently with the student teaching practicum. Mr. Bjork.

301a. Senior Portfolio: Adolescent Education (1)

Same as Education 300, but for students earning certification in Adolescent Education.

302a. Senior Thesis/Project (1/2 or 1)

Individual reading, research, or community service project. The department.

Yearlong course 302-303.

Prerequisite: Education 384.

303b. Senior Thesis/Project (1/2)

Individual reading, research, or community service project. The department.

Yearlong course 302-303.

Prerequisite: Education 302.

336. Childhood Development: Observation and Research Application (1)

(Same as Psychology 336) What differentiates the behavior of one young child from that of another? What characteristics do young children have in common? This course provides students with direct experience in applying contemporary theory and research to the understanding of an individual child. Topics include attachment, temperament, parent, sibling and peer relationships, language and humor development, perspective taking, and the social-emotional connection to learning. Each student selects an individual child in a classroom setting and collects data about the child from multiple sources (direct observation, teacher interviews, parent-teacher conferences, archival records). During class periods, students discuss the primary topic literature, incorporating and comparing observations across children to understand broader developmental trends and individual differences. Synthesis of this information with critical analysis of primary sources in the early childhood and developmental literature culminates in comprehensive written and oral presentations. Ms. Riess.

Prerequisite: Psychology 231 and permission of the instructor.

For Psychology Majors: completion of a research methods course.

One 3-hour period.

4 hours of laboratory observation work.

Not offered in 2013/14.

350a. The Teaching of Reading: Curriculum Development in Childhood Education (1)

The purpose of this course is to examine the nature and process of reading within a theoretical framework and then to examine and implement a variety of approaches and strategies used to promote literacy in language arts and social studies. Special emphasis is placed on material selection, instruction, and assessment to promote conceptual understandings for all students. Observation and participation in local schools is required. Ms. McCloskey

Year-long course, 350/351.

Prerequisites: Psychology 105, 231.

One 2-hour period; one hour of laboratory.

351b. The Teaching of Reading: Curriculum Development in Childhood Education (1)

The purpose of this course is to examine the nature and process of reading within a theoretical framework and then to examine and implement a variety of approaches and strategies used to promote literacy in language arts and social studies. Special emphasis is placed on material selection, instruction, and assessment to promote conceptual understandings for all students. Observation and participation in local schools is required. Ms. McCloskey

Year-long course, 350/351.

Prerequisites: Psychology 105, 231, Education 350.

One 2-hour period; one hour of laboratory.

353b. Pedagogies of Difference: Critical Approaches to Education (1)

(Same as Africana Studies 353) Pedagogies of difference are both theoretical frameworks and classroom practices- enacting a social justice agenda in one's educational work with learners. In this course, we think deeply about various anti-oppressive pedagogies- feminist, queer and critical race- while situating this theory in our class practicum. Thus, this course is about pedagogies of difference as much as it is about different pedagogies that result. We address how different pedagogies such as hip hop pedagogy, public pedagogy and Poetry for the People derive from these pedagogies of difference. The culminating signature assessment for this course is collaborative work with local youth organizations. Ms. Cann.

Prerequisite: Education 235 or permission of the instructor.

360a. Workshop in Curriculum Development (1/2)

This course focuses on the current trends, research and theory in the area of curriculum development and their implications for practice in schools. Procedures and criteria for developing and evaluating curricular content, resources and teaching strategies are examined and units of study developed. Offered in the first six weeks. Mr. Bjork.

Prerequisites: open to seniors only or permission of the instructor.

One 3-hour period.

361b. Seminar: Mathematics and Science in the Elementary Curriculum (1)

The purpose of this course is to develop the student's competency to teach mathematics and science to elementary school children. Lectures and hands-on activity sessions are used to explore mathematics and science content, methodology, and resource materials, with an emphasis on conceptual understanding as it relates to the curricular concepts explored. Special emphasis is placed on diagnostic and remedial skills drawn from a broad theoretical base. Students plan, implement, and evaluate original learning activities through field assignments in the local schools. In conjunction with their instruction of instructional methods in science, students also teach lessons for the Exploring Science at Vassar Farm program. Mr. Bjork.

Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

Two 75-minute periods; weekly laboratory work at the Vassar Farm.

362a. Student Teaching Practicum: Childhood Education (2)

Supervised internship in an elementary classroom, grades 1-6. Examination and analysis of the interrelationships of teachers, children, and curriculum as reflected in the classroom-learning environment.

One or more conference hours per week.

Open to seniors only.

Prerequisites: Psychology 105, 231; Education 235, 250, 290, 350/351; Education 360, 361 may be concurrent.

Ungraded only.

Permission of the instructor.

367. Urban Education Reform (1)

(Same as Urban Studies 367) This seminar examines American urban education reform from historical and contemporary perspectives. Particular attention is given to the political and economic aspects of educational change. Specific issues addressed in the course include school governance, standards and accountability, incentive-based reform strategies, and investments in teacher quality.

Prerequisite: Education 235 or permission of the instructor.

One 2-hour period.

Not offered in 2013/14.

372a. Student Teaching (2)

Adolescent Education Supervised internship in teaching in a middle, junior, or senior high school, grades 7-12. Examination of the interrelationships of teachers, children, and curriculum as reflected in the classroom-learning environment.

Open to seniors only.

Prerequisites: Psychology 105; Education 235, 263, 290, 373; Education 392. (Ungraded only.)

Permission of the instructor.

373. Adolescent Literacy (1)

(Same as Urban Studies 373) This course combines research, theory, and practice in the context of an urban middle school. Concurrently with tutoring a student, we engage in case study research about the literacies our students accept and resist in the various disciplines. We define literacy broadly and look at how school literacy compares and contrasts to the literacies valued and in use in contexts outside of school. We explore how literacy training is constructed through methods and curriculum with a special emphasis on the diversities at play in middle and high school classrooms. Conceptual understandings of knowledge, strategies that support attaining that knowledge, and the role of motivation in learning are emphasized. Ms. McCloskey.

One 2-hour period; one hour of laboratory.

Not offered in 2013/14.

384b. Advanced Seminar in Education - Urban Educational Reform (1)

(Same as Urban Studies 384) This seminar examines American urban education reform from historical and contemporary perspectives. In particular, we endeavor to answer the questions: How have public school reform efforts created more socially just spaces for youth? How have they served to perpetuate educational (and economic) inequalities? Particular attention is given to both large scale initiatives as well as grassroots community based efforts in educational change. Some topics include: democratic vs. top-down school governance, mayoral control, legislating standards and accountability (for students and teachers), teacher education and recruitment initiatives; the rise of charter schools and the increase of public school closings. While we draw from examples across the country, we focus more specifically on New York City, where many of these models have taken root. There are several public school visits during the semester as well. Ms. Hantzopoulos.

Prerequisite: Education 162 or 235.

One 2-hour period.

385. American Higher Education: Policy and Practice (1)

This seminar examines American higher education from historical and contemporary perspectives, paying particular attention to how students themselves experience college preparation, admission and campus life. Particular attention is given to the social, political, economic, and cultural challenges associated with policy and practice in private higher education. The types of questions the course addresses include: What changes in policy, administration, and/or instruction are likely to improve student outcomes in higher education in America? What research tools are available to decision-makers in higher education to help inform policy and practice? Who and what are the “drivers” of reform in higher education and what are their theories of action for improving the college experience? How should consumers of educational research approach the task of interpreting contradictory evidence and information about American higher education? What is an appropriate definition of equality of educational opportunity and how should we apply this definition to American private higher education? What roles do race and socioeconomic status play in American higher education? This semester, our texts and supplementary readings focus on issues pertinent to American higher education in general and highly selective private liberal arts college more specifically. Topics in the course include, but are not limited to: college admissions; student affairs policy and practice; micropolitics within colleges and universities; standards and accountability mechanisms, and efforts to promote diversity and inclusion. Small group case study projects give students the opportunity to develop potential solutions to contemporary problems in American higher education. Mr. Roellke.

Open to juniors and seniors only.

Prerequisite: one course in Education, American Studies, or Political Science.

Not offered in 2013/14.

388a. Schooling in America: Preparing Citizens or Producing Workers (1)

(Same as Sociology 388) Ms. Rueda.

392b. Multidisciplinary Methods in Adolescent Education (1)

(Same as Urban Studies 392) This course is designed to engage prospective middle and high school educators in developing innovative, culturally relevant, and socially responsive curricula in a specific discipline, as well as in exploring ways to branch inter-disciplinarily. In particular, students will strive to develop a practice that seeks to interrupt inequities in schooling and engender a transformative experience for all students. The first part of the course explores what it means to employ social justice, multicultural, and critical pedagogies in education through self-reflections, peer exchange, and class texts. The remainder of the course specifically looks at strategies to enact such types of education, focusing on methods, curriculum design, and assessment. Students will explore of a variety of teaching approaches and develop ways to adapt them to particular subject areas and to the intellectual, social, and emotional needs of adolescent learners. There will be a particular emphasis on literacy development and meeting the needs of English Language Learners.

Prerequisite: Education 235.

One 2-hour period.

399a or b. Senior Independent Work (1/2 or 1)

Special permission. The department.