Improving Instructional Practices and Curriculum Design

This course of study is the most flexible master’s online option at the University of San Diego (USD). It allows you to choose your specialization courses from across the School Leadership, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics), Inclusive Learning: Special Education and Universal Design or the Literacy and Digital Learning offerings. With these courses, you will focus on the design, delivery, and assessment of lessons, units, and programs. The Master of Education online program teaches you to systematically examine both your own practices and leading national and international exemplars and considers how the Common Core Standards play a role in curriculum development. If you are a transfer student to USD, this specialization may make the most sense for you.

Get the comprehensive advantage that the Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction offers! View the curriculum below.

Course of Study

Earn this University of San Diego Masters Degree in Education by completing 10 courses (3-units each) for 30 units of coursework. Your Masters in Education online program consists of five foundation courses including a capstone action research project as well as five specialization courses. You may begin your study in any semester with any of the courses offered. The Capstone Seminar is the final course in the program and builds on knowledge gained in the research and specialization courses.

Literacy and Digital Learning Specialization Courses

3 units

EDUC 561

Critical Media Literacy in the Classroom

Critical Media Literacy in the Classroom

An examination of important new media literacy skills and their application in the K-12 classroom. Students will actively consider, analyze, construct, and synthesize digital content while considering issues of identity, ethics, and privacy.

3 units

EDUC 562

Teaching Digital Readers

Teaching Digital Readers

Exploration of digital texts, online comprehension skills, multimodal annotation, and other new literacy practices required in digital reading environments. Students will investigate their own pedagogy, integrating new literacies pedagogies into their practices, and closely studying the impact on student learning.

3 units

EDUC 563

Youth and Digital Media

Youth and Digital Media

Consideration of the ways in which young people leverage digital media for composing, accessing information, finding new audiences, and creating communities or practice and purpose. Examination of implications of youth practices with digital media on content instruction, schooling, and learning in and out of school.

3 units

EDUC 566

Participatory Learning in 21st Century Classrooms

Participatory Learning in 21st Century Classrooms

Theoretical and practical foundation to consider what it means to teach and learn within participatory networks and affinity groups. Topics explored include motivation, assessment, collaboration, and creativity.

3 units

EDUC 565

Collaboration and Critique: Teaching Digital Writers

Collaboration and Critique: Teaching Digital Writers

Investigation of theories about how and why we write and how we teach writing in 21st century classrooms. Exploration of how these theories inform pedagogy, professional learning and research.

School Leadership

3 units

EDUC 5XX

Data Driven Decision Making

Data Driven Decision Making

Rigorous exploration of how school leaders use data, including standardized and school-based assessments, to drive continuous improvement through site-based decision-making for the express purpose of promoting equitable and culturally responsive opportunities for all students. (PSEL #3 & 10).

3 units

EDUC 503

Instructional Leadership

Instructional Leadership

This course addresses the development, implementation, and assessment of rigorous and coherent systems of curriculum, instruction, and assessment designed to promote each student’s academic success. Targeted focus on effective strategies to develop the professional capacity of teachers and other school personnel through effective hiring, coaching, mentoring, and accountability structures. (PSEL #4 & 6).

3 units

EDUC 555

Leading Professional Learning Communities

Leading Professional Learning Communities

Investigation of strategies used to build and sustain effective site-based professional learning communities. Targeted focus on how to structure school operations and leverage resources to prioritize professional learning, continuous improvement, and each student’s academic success and well-being. (PSEL #7 & 9).

3 units

EDUC 501

Family, School, and Community Partnerships

Family, School, and Community Partnerships

This course will address strategies used by effective school leaders to build and sustain reciprocal family and community partnerships and explore approaches designed to leverage these partnerships to cultivate an inclusive, caring, and culturally responsive school community. Targeted focus on working with stakeholder groups to support special populations including English Language Learners, Title I students, and Special Education students. (PSEL Standard #5 & 8)

3 units

EDUC 5XX

Ethical Leadership in an Era of School Reform

Ethical Leadership in an Era of School Reform

Contextualized within the evolving high stakes accountability context of public K-12 education, this course will consider the challenges and opportunities facing educational leaders. The course will examine the history and impact of national, state, and local reform movements, and explore how educational leaders develop, advocate for, and enact a shared mission and vision for excellence and equity within schools and districts. The course will include a focus on ethical and professional norms for school leaders and address legal rights and responsibilities. (PSEL
Standard #1 & 2).

3 units

EDUC 5XX

Catholic School Leadership (OPTIONAL)

Catholic School Leadership (OPTIONAL)

This course will address the opportunities and challenges of leadership within a Catholic school context. Topics addressed include the following: Leading a school-based faith community, the application of Catholic teaching to K-12 curriculum and instruction, and understanding and promoting the distinctive mission and philosophy of contemporary Catholic schools.

STEAM Specialization Courses

3 units

EDUC 507

Creativity and Innovation in STEAM

Creativity and Innovation in STEAM

Examination of points of convergence and divergence in the creative processes of artists, scientists, mathematicians, and engineers. Students will develop a strong foundation of theoretical and applied STEAM knowledge, practical guidance in the development of their own unique STEAM toolkits, and opportunities to experience and experiment with STEAM learning in their classrooms.

3 units

EDUC 508

Artistic Modeling and Representation in Science and Math Education

Artistic Modeling and Representation in Science and Math Education

An exploration of educational strategies and classroom approaches that leverage the multi-dimensional connections between artistic, scientific, and mathematical knowledge, modeling and representation to strengthen K-12 students’ content understanding, critical thinking skills and capacity for innovation. The course will prioritize connections to the crosscutting concepts described in the next generation of science and math standards.

3 units

EDUC 509

Engineering Design Process in Math and Science Education

Engineering Design Process in Math and Science Education

Investigation of the intersection between conceptual understanding and real-world application with a focus on the engineering design process. Drawing on NASA’s Beginning Engineering, Science and Technology (BEST) program, students will explore strategies for engaging K-12 students in structured inquiry learning to enhance disciplinary understanding and ensure knowledge transfer.

3 units

EDUC 527

Communication, Technology, and Curriculum Design

Communication, Technology, and Curriculum Design

Theoretical and practical exploration of the use of technology to transform learning and teaching in the K-12 classroom. Investigation into the use of social networking, online learning, mobile technology, and web-based applications to facilitate and strengthen science and math education.

3 units

EDUC 528

STEAM and Special Student Populations

STEAM and Special Student Populations

Investigation of classroom practices that contribute to historical and contemporary inequities in learning outcomes in STEAM subjects for students based on gender, race, language, and need. Exploration of how STEAM methodologies provide opportunities to increase equity and improve outcomes for all students.

UDL Specialization Courses

3 units

EDUC 533

Designing Learning Environments For All

Designing Learning Environments For All

Theoretical and practical exploration of the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL). Investigation of brain research into recognition networks, strategic networks, and affective networks and consideration of how these networks can inform instructional design decisions.

3 units

EDUC 538

Identifying and Responding To the Needs of Diverse Learners

Identifying and Responding To the Needs of Diverse Learners

Examination of variability of ability and experience among students. Investigation and application of assessment tools and instructional design strategies that provide differentiated support for the success of all students.

3 units

EDUC 586

Teaching Students on the Autism Spectrum

Teaching Students on the Autism Spectrum

Exploration of our evolving understanding of autism in the research literature, educational practice, and popular imagination. Examination and application of instructional strategies for supporting autistic students in communication, organization, and social interaction.

3 units

EDUC 587

Co-Teaching: Collaborating in an Inclusive Environment

Co-Teaching: Collaborating in an Inclusive Environment

Examination of research, policy, and practice of co-teaching and collaboration models that support general education and special education students in inclusive classrooms.

3 units

EDUC 588

Disability in Education Policy and Law

Disability in Education Policy and Law

Investigation of the historical, philosophical, legal, political and sociological constructions of disability in education. Analysis of application of current law to classroom and school policies and practices.

Core Courses

3 units

EDUC 520

Social Justice and Educational Equity

Social Justice and Educational Equity

Analysis of the American educational system with a particular focus on issues of diversity, inequity, conflict and social justice within a school context. Historical case studies, contemporary policies and practices, and international comparisons compel consideration of the social construction of education.

3 units

EDUC 521

Cognition and Learning

Cognition and Learning

Explore key cognitive studies on human cognition and learning. You will critically discuss research and contemporary debates on cognitive processes, learning, memory, reasoning, problem-solving, developmental mechanism, cognitive styles, motivation, and the socio-cultural foundations of learning with an emphasis on the implications for educators and educational researchers.

3 units

EDUC 522

Educational Research Methodology

Educational Research Methodology

Introduction to the major educational research methods and paradigms with an emphasis on reflective, practitioner-directed inquiry. The course encompasses quantitative methods, qualitative methods, mixed methods, and action research frameworks. Particular emphasis is placed on action research as a reflective and collaborate inquiry for improving educational practices.

3 units

EDUC 523

Qualitative Methods in Educational Research

Qualitative Methods in Educational Research

Applied exploration of qualitative research methodologies such as ethnography, grounded theory, case-study and cross-case comparisons, surveys, observations, document analyses, focus groups and interviews. Opportunity to learn and apply a variety of techniques to analyze data and interpret findings.

3 units

EDUC 550

Capstone Seminar

Capstone Seminar

Final course in the MEd Online program sequence. The capstone builds on the knowledge gained in previous research and specialization courses to support students as they engage in an action research project appropriate to their area of specialization and classroom needs.