Special Education Undergraduate Program’s main objective is to bring up qualified teachers who can educate individuals with special needs in becoming self-sufficient and autonomous persons in their daily lives. Graduates of this program are expected to know and apply different instructional techniques and methods, provide support services for individuals with special needs and their families, and work cooperatively with individuals from different professions. Furthermore, they will be able to act sensitively to the field’s problems, work according to the ethical rules of their profession, have the knowledge and skills corresponding to the requirements of the current information age, and possess all the qualifications appropriate to their field and profession.
Beginning from 2016-2017 academic year, Higher Education Council in Turkey (YÖK) made a decision to unify all programs of teaching children with special needs under a single department called “Special Education Teacher Education Program”. According to this regulation, graduates of the Special Education undergraduate program will be appointed as Special Education teachers.
Special Education Undergraduate Program took its final form in the fall semester of the 2018-2019 academic year, with the updates made in the curriculum by YÖK. In order for students to successfully complete the 4-year program, they are expected to take a total of 65 courses (150 credit/hours). 138 credits are for theoretical and 24 credits are for the practice-based courses. Medium of instruction is Turkish. Currently, the only available program is the undergraduate program.
Special Education Undergraduate Program is flexible enough to offer specialisation in different branches. The branch area determined for our program is the area of “Mental Disability”. Students enrolled in the program will have common courses during the first two years of the program. Starting from the third year, in addition to the common courses, they will have elective courses according to their interests and preferences. Students have to take at least one elective course from the fields of intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorder, special learning difficulties, gifted and talented children, hearing and visual impairments. Moreover, they have to take at least seven elective courses from the field they want to specialize in. By this way, students will improve themselves in different areas of special education (e.g. intellectual disability, hearing impairment, visual impairment, autism, gifted and talented children, etc.) and this will enable them to differentiate instruction for individuals with different special needs.
Students are assessed based on assignments, one midterm and one final exam. They are also engaged in teamwork projects which aim to develop their research and problem solving skills. In addition to observation in special education institutions in their fourth semester, students will have school experience in special education and general education schools during their last academic year. This institutional experience will enable students to practice the knowledge and skills they have gained. Thus, they will be involved in the activities taking place in these institutions to professionally develop themselves. They are also required to submit a portfolio about their practices conducted under the supervision of a lecturer and a special education teacher.
This program aims to train qualified special education teachers who possess the knowledge and skills to deliver appropriate instruction to children with different special needs. In addition to equipping students with theoretical and practice based knowledge and skills, the program also aims to bring up prospective teachers who are sensitive to their environment, home country and the world. The program also aims to educate individuals who are able to think critically and analytically and are able to generate solutions.
The courses in the Special Education Undergraduate Program are offered by highly qualified academic members who are experts in their fields. There are different courses from different subject areas to help students develop in a variety of ways. For example, courses related to computer education provide students with the opportunity to have an easy access to information and provide them with effective ways of communication. Students can benefit from computer labs designed to serve for this aim. Instruction is conducted in technologically-equipped classrooms including a smart classroom which provides opportunities for a wide variety of technological communication such as teleconferencing. Students also benefit from wireless internet access everywhere in the campus. The library has contemporary resources from different fields both in Turkish and in other languages. In order to practice what they have gained from the theoretical courses, students are provided with school experience in inclusive schools and special education schools under the guidance of their supervisors in collaboration with the Ministry of Education.
The program aims to train students who have cooperative skills, and are eager to work with individuals with special needs. Another objective of the program is to organize seminars, conferences and workshops to determine the problems in the field of special education and offer possible solutions.
In addition to these, the student clubs functioning under the Social and Cultural Activities Directorate of the University provide students with the opportunities to engage in leisure activities to spend their time more effectively and to gain new interest areas. One of these clubs is related with special education. The club aims to organize awareness raising activities about individuals with special needs among university students and in the society. These activities include actions such as giving information about individuals with special needs, problems faced in the field, possible solutions for the problems and integrating these individuals with the society.
Graduates of the program may pursue job opportunities as special education teachers and/or administrators at private and state elementary and high schools, special education schools, rehabilitation, counseling and research centers operating under the Ministry of Education both in Turkey and TRNC. Graduates may also continue their studies at postgraduate level and become specialists or academicians.