NDSU Distance & Continuing Education (DCE)

Bringing Education to You

K-12 Professionals

Culture and Special Education

EDUC 600




Instructor: Michelle Kalina

Grading: Graded

Spring, Summer & Fall (Ongoing)

Instruction Mode: Correspondence

Academic Level: K-12 Professional Development

Partner Course Fee: $250

Partner Class Offered Through Northstar Continuing Education

Course Description:

Working with multicultural students in special education has always been a challenge for educators. Cultural differences, understanding of services offered and aspirations for the students can vary between teachers and parents. Students in this course will learn how to improve their relationships with families and students, develop Individualized Education Plans that include family values and assist students in reaching their academic potential and learn life skills that will increase their self-sufficiency. Several case studies are included in the text to help students learn the process of cultural reciprocity.


As a result of this participation in this course, students should:

1.  Understand the cultural underpinnings of special education;

2.  Compare and contrast various definitions of the term “disability” and the implications for professionals and families;

3.  Discover personal and cultural biases and beliefs concerning special education;

4.  Learn cultural differences regarding: the role of the education professional, meaning of independence, role of society and group membership, parenting styles, medical practice, meaning of individualism, role of work and parental/professional expectations;

5.  Build and enhance parent-professional relationships in the school environment;

6.  Apply the four steps of cultural reciprocity to specific case studies;

7.  Learn how to write IEPs that reflect realization of the student’s academic potential, self sufficiency and independence for activities of daily living.


The required reading is found in the text listed below.  The required texts are:

Bailey, B and Betts, P. (2009). Culture and special education. International Journal of Special Education, 24(3), 78-84. Article may be found at: www.eric.ed.gov. Doc. no. EJ877939.

Center for Mental Health in Schools at UCLA (2011). Immigrant Children and Youth: Enabling Their Success at School: A Center Policy Brief. University of California, Los Angeles: Center for Mental Health in Schools. Article may be found at: www.eric.ed.gov. Doc. no. ED 519111

Haihambo, C. and Lightfoot, E. (2010). Cultural beliefs regarding people with disabilities in Namibia: Implications for the inclusion of people with disabilities. International Journal of Special Education, 25(3), 76-87. Article may be found at: http://www.eric.ed.gov D.oc. no. EJ909038

Hughes, C., Page, A. and Ford, D. (2011). Cultural dynamics in an economically challenged, multiethnic middle school: Student perceptions. Journal of At-Risk Issues,16(1), 9-16. Article may be found at www.eric.ed.gov. Doc. no. EJ942891.

Jung, A. (2011). Individualized education programs (IEPs) and barriers for parents from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Multicultural Education, 19(3), 21-25. Article may be found at: www.eric.ed.gov. Doc. no. EJ955935.

Kalyanpur, M. and Harry, B. (2012). Cultural reciprocity in special education. Baltimore, Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co. 

Lasky, K. and Karge, B. (2011). Involvement of language minority parents of children with disabilities in their child's school achievement. Multicultural Education, 19(3), 29-34. Article may be found at: www.eric.ed.gov.  Doc. no. EJ955942

Talbott, E., Fleming, J., Karabatsos, G. and Dobria, L. (2011). Making sense of minority student identification in special education: School context matters. International Journal of Special Education, 26(3), 150-170. Article may be found at: www.eric.ed.gov. Doc. no. EJ959009.

Zugel, K. (2012). Cultural challenges faced by Mexican immigrant students. Online Submission. Article may be found at: www.eric.ed.gov. Doc. no. ED530073.

Textbook(s) not included in the cost of the course.

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