Field of Teaching Students with Exceptionalities

MPEd | Field of Teaching Students with Exceptionalities

The Masters of Professional Education Program in the field of Teaching Students with Exceptionalities is a course-based program of study and follows a cohort model of delivery. Approximately 20 people will be admitted to the cohort. This cohort structure will provide ongoing support within the course work, enabling students to develop a professional community of practice. To ensure integrity of the cohort model, continuous enrollment is required, and will necessitate that students complete all the required courses within the two year timeframe.This program takes the following approach, which is based on the Western Faculty of Education MPEd programs.


  • Inquiry and research: Students will become familiar with current research, and the application of it to problems of practice. Courses may include the option of conducting applied research (e.g., action research), in order to solve professional problems of practice.
  • Students will engage in critical thinking, framing analysis of education problems and practice from multiple perspectives or lenses (see below).
  • Students will participate in signature pedagogies, including the use of case studies, inductive teaching methods, and problem-based learning.
  • Students will participate in communities of learning and collaborate, in setting such as laboratories of practice.

In coursework, students are expected to apply multiple frames or lenses to the analysis of problems of practice. Lenses are selected to support rich discussion, evoke application of theory and research, and inform practical problem solving. The following are examples of suggested lenses or frames that can be brought to bear on problems of practice, and questions that could be used to elicit discussion of a given problem of practice.

  • Ethics and inclusion: How can we support the rights, opportunities, independence, and self-determination of the student? How can we support the inclusion, acceptance, and equity of the student as a member of the school community?
  • The medical model: What is the nature of the student's exceptionality? How can this knowledge inform our practice in this situation?
  • Evidence-based practice: What research is relevant to this problem? What is its extent and quality? How can it inform our practice in this situation?

Important Note

The successful completion of a Master of Professional degree does not lead to certification with the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT).


The objective of the Masters of Professional Education is to provide in-depth, graduate-level courses to educational professionals who will be competent in identifying and responding to complex problems in teaching students with exceptionalities. It is appropriate for classroom teachers, special education teachers, and educational administrators. The program will do the following:

  • Support the professional learning of educators who can construct and apply knowledge to make a positive difference in the lives of individuals, families, organizations, and communities;
  • Provide opportunities for candidates to develop and demonstrate collaboration, communication skills, and leadership skills to work with diverse professionals and communities to build partnerships;
  • Provide field-based opportunities to analyze problems of practice and use multiple frames to develop meaningful responses;
  • Draw on and develop a critically reflective professional knowledge base that integrates both practical and research knowledge, and that links theory with systemic and systematic inquiry; and,
  • Emphasize the generation, transformation, and use of critically reflective professional knowledge and practice.


The MPEd is designated as a full-time program. Full-time status requires that students complete four half-courses in one year. MPEd students will complete one course per semester (fall, winter, intersession, summer) for two years. Full-time students have access to all student services at Western. See the School of Graduate and Postdoctural Studies  for details.

This program of study is a course-based cohort model. Approximately 20 students will be admitted to the cohort. This cohort structure will provide ongoing support within the course work, enabling students to develop a professional community of practice. To ensure the integrity of the cohort model, continuous enrollment is required, and will necessitate that students complete all the required courses within the timeframe stipulated.


Year 1 Fall
ED 9480A Introduction to Teaching Student with Exceptionalities

This course emphasizes critically understanding various conceptions of education for students with exceptionalities. Examples of historical and regional variations will be examined. Implications for models of delivering services will be considered, including the role of the individual educational plan. Several exceptionalities will be introduced, including learning disabilities, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, communication disorders, and intellectual developmental disabilities; gifted and struggling learners will also be considered. Each exceptionality will be considered with respect to the following: Psychological characteristics, assessment, learning needs and strengths, interventions; and program accommodations and modifications. Students will have the opportunity to apply different conceptions to analyze and solve problems of practice.

Year 1 Winter
ED 9481B - Social and Emotional Learning

This course focuses on the interpersonal challenges and well-being of students. Topics include the following: resiliency; belonging; safe and inclusive schools; the role of mental health professionals in the schools; and whole class and individual interventions.

Year 1 Summer - Intersession
ED 9482L Academic Learning for Students with Exceptionalities

In this course, students learn to analyze and address problems of practice concerning the academic learning of struggling learners. Topics covered will include general teaching practices such as strategy instruction, universal design, and differentiated instruction; subject-specific interventions and modifications in decoding, reading comprehension, written composition, mathematics, and content area subjects; and accessing evidence-based instructional resources.

Year 1 Summer - Summer Session
ED 9484L Inquiry and Research for Educating Exceptional Students

This course focuses on the role of research in professional knowledge and practice. Methods of research commonly found in the special education literature will be presented, with an emphasis on critical analysis and classroom application. Methods of research for professional learning, such as action research, will be introduced. Effective strategies for searching research literature and examples of professionally relevant, evidence-based, accessible sources of research will be highlighted.

Year 2 Fall
ED 9483A Positive Classroom Management

This course focuses on positive classroom management. Topics will include the motivational principles underlying student behaviour, school-wide classroom management, safe schools, and externalizing disorders.

Year 2 Winter
ED 9486B Assessment for Teaching Students with Exceptionalities

This course examines assessment as it relates to the professional practice of teachers and school administrators. Topics covered include psycho-educational assessment in the identification of students with exceptionalities, including instruments, procedures, and statistics; and assessment of the classroom learning of students with exceptionalities. Students will learn to critically evaluate various forms of assessment and their results, and to apply knowledge about assessment to analyzing case studies, and solving problems of professional practice.

Year 2 Fall + Winter
ED 9485Y Laboratory of Practice for Students with Exceptionalities

This course is carried out across two terms at a reduced pace (1.5 hours per week). Students will carry out a research project on a problem of professional practice. They will formulate a research question and situate it in a professional and scholarly context, formulate a plan for action, carry out the plan, collect data to evaluate and modify the plan and practice, and write a final report. 

Year 2 Summer Intersession 
ED 9487L Capstone Project for Teaching Students with Exceptionalities

Students will present a final, culminating paper that demonstrates a critical reflection, review and synthesis of the professional program in response to a current issue in teaching students with exceptionalities. 

Faculty Research

Program Coordinator

Jacqueline SpechtView Profile


Deanna FriesenView Profile

Perry KleinView Profile

Elizabeth NowickiView Profile



  • A four-year degree (20 full courses or equivalent) from an accredited university.
  • Minimum "B" standing (70%) or equivalent in the final two years of study.
Notes & Exceptions:
  • Bachelor of Education and Additional Qualification course grades are not used in calculating admission averages.
  • Applicants with 3-year degrees will be considered on a case-by-case basis if seats are available in programs. Successful experience as an educator in a professional setting may be considered in the selection process.
  • Probationary Status: If an applicant does not meet all of the minimum admission requirements (e.g. average below 70% and/or has only a 3-year degree plus B.Ed.) the applicant may be offered admission as a Probationary Student with Conditions.
  • Conditions: Applicants will be required to maintain a 75% average in each of these courses to clear conditions.
  • The successful completion of an MPEd degree does not lead to certification with the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT).


Tuition amounts are set each year by Senate and then published on the Office of the Registrar's Fees Schedules web page. Fees are assessed once each term (Fall, Winter, Summer).

Current students can access fee information by logging into the Student Centre (use your Western email log in and password). Students are notified each term once fee amounts have been posted in the Student Centre; it is each student's responsibility to log into the Student Centre and pay fees by the due date indicated. Failure to do so may result in a late payment fee or deregistration.

For questions about fees, including how to pay fees and the methods of payment that are accepted, students should go to the Student Financial Services pages of the Office of the Registrar's web site or contact Student Financial Services (Office of the Registrar) at 519-661-2100.


The Faculty of Education recognizes the financial commitment required to pursue professional graduate studies.

As the majority of our programs are fully online, we offer students flexible learning that allows them to fund their education by remaining in their current employment.  Some employers offer subsidization or time release opportunities for the professional learning of their employees. As a result, internal funding is not available for these programs.

There are also many external funding opportunities for competitive candidates in our professional programs. Download this PDF file for an additional list of over 30 external awards (see more information below). Also, visit online sites that contain numerous award opportunities. 

Please note that students must apply for these awards individually. Read the qualifications carefully, and contact the award provider for more criteria and award information. Some application support is available from the Research Office for research-based awards only.

Many private financial institutions offer financing options (with particular rates and payment plans) to full-time students. Please contact a representative of your preferred financial institution for more information.

Provincial governments offer a variety of loan programs to help students finance their studies. Ontario residents may be eligible to apply for OSAP.

The Government of Canada's CanLearn website provides a listing of contact information for the offices of all government student financial assistance programs. Please visit CanLearn to find your province or territory listing. The Government of Canada implemented the Lifelong Learning Plan (LLP) to encourage higher education and training. The LLP allows you to withdraw up to $10,000 a year from your registered retirement savings plan (RRSPs) to finance training or education for you or your spouse or common-law partner. For further information on this plan, visit the government's website at


Online and onsite courses are available via the Sakai OWL platform, although instructors of onsite courses use this tool to varying degrees as well. Access to a course in Sakai OWL is typically opened the first business day of each term. Please note that although your own access may be granted prior to the first business day, course content may not be posted until closer to the scheduled term start. Your Western University login and password is required to access the course (your Western email without the and its accompanying password). Access to Sakai OWL is found here:

For online courses, students are required to have access to the following:

  • High speed Internet access
  • Access to a computer that enables connection to outside websites (flexible firewall restrictions)
  • Multimedia playback capabilities (video/audio)
  • WebCam
  • Computer capable of running a recent version of Internet Explorer, Safari, or Firefox; and/or Cisco MOVI client for PC or Mac
  • Audio headset and microphone for computer