Courses

The following information is from the 2016-17 Vassar College Catalogue.

Education: I. Introductory

136 Early Childhood Education 0.5

This course explores the "why" behind the components of a quality early childhood education learning environment.  Drawing on research from early childhood education and developmental psychology, students explore the following topics: school, classroom and playground design; pedagogical methods; core curriculum components; guidance and discipline; the role of parents and families; models of inclusion and diversity; and interfacing with state agencies (e.g., licensing, health department).  Observation at Wimpfheimer Nursery School is required. Julie Riess.

First six-week course.

Two 75-minute periods.

162 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. Christopher Bjork.

Open only to freshmen; satisfies the college requirement for a Freshman Writing Seminar.

Not offered in 2016/17.

Two 75-minute periods.

182a. Centering Black Women and Girls' Lives 0.5

(Same as AFRS 182, AMST 182, ANTH 182, SOCI 182, and WMST 182) Vassar College, as one of the seven sisters, has a long history of being at the forefront of controversial and critical conversations about issues that confront women's lives. In line with that history, this course contributes to this important tradition by expanding and extending the historical and contemporary discourses on women and intersectionality that have become so vibrant on Vassar's campus and beyond. Specifically, it provides students with a critical space to consider and be challenged by how they define, understand, think about, talk about and write at the intersection of race, gender, sexuality, spirituality, art and literature in the U.S. Colette Cann, Luis Inoa, Candice Lowe Swift, and Samuel Speers.

Second six-week course.

One 3-hour period.

Education: 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 PSYC 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. Julie Riess.

PSYC 231 and permission of the instructor.

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

248 The Human Rights of Children - Select Issues 1

(Same as INTL 248 and LALS 248) This course focuses on both theories surrounding, and practices of, the human rights of children. 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.. Consideration is given to the major conceptual and developmental issues embedded within the framework of human rights in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (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; child labor and efforts to ban it worldwide; initiatives intended to abolish the involvement of children in armed conflict; violence against street children; and the rights of migrant, refugee, homeless, and minority children. The course provides students with an in depth study of the Right to Education, including special issues related to the privatization of education and girls' education. The course also explores issues related to the US ratification of the CRC, and offers critical perspectives on the advocacy and education-based work of international human rights organizations. Tracey Holland.

 

Two 75-minute periods.

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. Erin McCloskey.

EDUC 162 or EDUC 235.

Two 75 minute periods.

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

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 and public attitudes towards schools and schooling- 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 driving 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. Colette Cann.

Not offered in 2016/17.

Two 75-minute periods.

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. The department.

EDUC 235.

Two 75-minute periods.

269 Constructing School Kids and Street Kids 1

(Same as LALS 269 and SOCI 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. Eréndira Rueda.

Not offered in 2016/17.

275b. International and Comparative Education 1

(Same as ASIA 275 and INTL 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. Christopher Bjork.

EDUC 235 or permission of the instructor.

Two 75-minute periods.

278 Education for Peace, Justice and Human Rights 1

(Same as INTL 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. Maria Hantzopoulos.

EDUC 162 or EDUC 235.

Not offered in 2016/17.

Two 75-minute periods.

288b. The Politics of Language in Schools and Society 1

The United States is one of the most multilingual nations in the world, and, language is intimately connected to family and personal identity. This course explores how language, power, and ideology play out in public debate, state policy and educational justice movements. We examine the link between racism, language and national belonging by analyzing how Standard English, Black English (AAVE) and Spanish-English bilingualism are positioned as more or less "correct", or politicized and even policied. We then turn our eye to curriculum and education policy, examining how debates around language in the classroom. Finally we pose possibilities, and examine the politics of language in multilingual, hybrid and global contexts. What do debates about "correctness" in language obscure? How do our fears, hopes and longing for identity shape our beliefs about language in the classroom? How does the history of U.S. language politics inform our present? What does equitable language education policy look like? Why are these issues important to all citizens? Christine Malsbary.

EDUC 235 or permission of the instructor.

Two 75-minute periods.

290a or b. Field Work 0.5 to 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.

297a or b. Independent Reading 0.5

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 0.5 to 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. Noreen 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.

Education: 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. Maria Hantzopoulos.

301a. Senior Portfolio: Adolescent Education 1

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

302a. Senior Thesis/Project 0.5 to 1

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

EDUC 384.

Yearlong course 302-EDUC 303.

303b. Senior Thesis/Project 0.5

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

EDUC 302.

Yearlong course EDUC 302-303.

304b. Senior Thesis/Project 1

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

One 1-hour period.

336 Childhood Development: Observation and Research Application 1

(Same as PSYC 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. Julie Riess.

PSYC 231 and permission of the instructor.

For Psychology Majors: completion of a research methods course.

Not offered in 2016/17.

One 3-hour period. and 4 hours of laboratory observation work.

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. Erin McCloskey

PSYC 105, PSYC 231.

Year long course 350/EDUC 351.

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. Erin McCloskey.

PSYC 105, PSYC 231, EDUC 350.

Year long course EDUC 350/351.

One 2-hour period; one hour of laboratory.

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

This course continues the on-going work of raising awareness around difference, equity and social justice - particularly as they relate to race.  In Pedagogies of Difference, we go beyond reflection of oppressive societal structures to build skills and engage pedagogy to interrupt oppression in its many forms, with an emphasis on aggressions within our own community.  The primary goal of this course is to prepare students at Vassar to productively, honestly and ethnically engage their peers in dialogue about and across racial difference.  Students experience and participate in a number of activities used to raise awareness around social identity, consider how they might facilitate such activities, work on facilitating around triggers (their own and those of others) and learn how to put together a workshop to facilitate. 

There are two prerequisites for Pedagogies of Difference: EDUC 235 - Issues in Contemporary Education and EDUC 255 - Race, Representation, and Resistance in U.S. Schools (or a similar course).  In Education 235, you began the study of both the content and process necessary for facilitating dialogues across difference.  In Education 235, students explored how and why students experience schools in vastly different ways and how these differing experiences result from inequitable treatment (and lead to inequitable outcomes).   Thus, you began preliminary study of the content of focus in Pedagogies of Difference.  In this course, students also begin the study of pedagogy, teaching for perhaps the first time.

The second prerequisite for Pedagogies of Difference is Education 255 or another semester-long course that focuses on race and racism.  In Education 255, you continued the study of both the content and process necessary for facilitating dialogue across difference (with a focus on racial difference, in particular). In Education 255, we attempted to set a foundation in race theory, studying different racial theoretical frameworks (with a focus on critical race theory).  Students also engaged in courageous conversations about race and racism, pushing themselves to stay on their learning edge (in their risk zone). Colette Cann.

EDUC 235 and EDUC 255 or permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2016/17.

One 3-hour period.

360a. Workshop in Curriculum Development 0.5

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. Maria Hantzopoulos.

open to seniors only or permission of the instructor.

First six-week course.

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. Christopher Bjork.

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.

PSYC 105, PSYC 231; EDUC 235, EDUC 250, EDUC 290, EDUC 350/EDUC 351; EDUC 360, EDUC 361 may be concurrent. Permission of the instructor.

Open to seniors only. Ungraded only.

One or more conference hours per week.

367a. Urban Education Reform 1

(Same as URBS 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. Maria Hantzopoulos.

EDUC 235 or permission of the instructor.

One 2-hour period.

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.

PSYC 105; EDUC 235, EDUC 263, EDUC 290, EDUC 373; EDUC 392. (Ungraded only.)

Permission of the instructor. Open to seniors only.

373b. Adolescent Literacy 1

This course combines literacy research, theory, and practice in the context of adolescent learning. We engage in case study research about the cultural, semiotic, and identity literacies our students produce in contrast to the literacies that are sanctioned and mandated in formal schooling. We define literacy broadly, and consider reading, writing, visual literacy and multimodal literacy-- including new technologies. We look at how (im)migration status, race, ethnic heritage, and linguistic identity intersect with youth literacy production. Finally, we explore how literacy training is constructed through methods and curriculum with a special emphasis on diversity. The department.

EDUC 235 or permission of the instructor.

One 3-hour period.

384a. Advanced Seminar 1

This course explores various approaches to research methods in the field of education, with emphasis on qualitative approaches. The course provides an overview of the different types of educational research, the varied philosophical groundings that drive particular methodological approaches, and discussion on data collection and analysis. Maria Hantzopoulos.

EDUC 162 or EDUC 235.

One 2-hour period.

385 American Higher Education: Policy and Practice .5

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. Christopher Roellke.

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

Open to juniors and seniors only.

Second six-week course.

Not offered in 2016/17.

386a. Ghetto Schooling 1

(Same as LALS 386 and SOCI 386) In twenty-first century America, the majority of students attend segregated schools. Most white students attend schools where 75% of their peers are white, while 80% of Latino students and 74% of black students attend majority non-white schools. In this course we will examine the events that led to the U.S. Supreme Court's 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka and the 60-year struggle to make good on the promises of that ruling. The course will be divided into three parts. In part one, we will study the Brown decision as an integral element in the fight against Jim Crow laws and trace the legal history of desegregation efforts. In part two, we will focus on desegregation policies and programs that enabled the slow move toward desegregation between 1954 and the 1980s. At this point in time, integration efforts reached their peak and 44% of black students in the south attended majority-white schools. Part three of the course will focus on the dismantling of desegregation efforts that were facilitated by U.S. Supreme Court decisions beginning in the 1990s. Throughout the course we will consider the consequences of the racial isolation and concentrated poverty that characterizes segregated schooling and consider the implications of this for today's K-12 student population, which is demographically very different than it was in the 1960s, in part due to new migration streams from Latin America, Asia, and the Caribbean. Over the last 40 years, public schools have experienced a 28% decline in white enrollments, with increases in the number of black and Asian students, and a noteworthy 495% increase in Latino enrollments. Eréndira Rueda.

One 2-hour period.

388 Schooling in America: Preparing Citizens or Producing Workers 1

(Same as SOCI 388) We consider the role that education plays in US society in relationship to the political economy at different historical periods. In Part I, we examine democratic views of schooling (i.e. schooling functions to prepare citizens for participation in a diverse society) and technical views of schooling (i.e. schools prepare students to participate in the capitalist economy), as well as critiques and limitations of each view. In Part II, we examine current school reform efforts, such as modifications of school structure, curriculum and instruction, and the move to privatize schooling. In Part III, we discuss the future of education in our increasingly global capitalist society. Eréndira Rueda.

Not offered in 2016/17.

392b. Multidisciplinary Methods in Adolescent Education 1

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 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 explore 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 is a particular emphasis on literacy development and meeting the needs of English Language Learners. Maria Hantzopoulos.

EDUC 235.

One 2-hour period.

399a or b. Senior Independent Work 0.5 to 1

Special permission. The department.