The curriculum of the Elementary Teaching concentration is designed to equip future teachers with skills and knowledge they will need to become effective teachers and leaders in the field of education.

Elementary Teaching Curriculum

MS_ED 402 Social Contexts of Education

This course focuses on the social and contextual influences of education, from a learning, teaching, research and policy perspective. We will examine the role or race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality and identity in the ways individuals and groups influence and are influenced by our education system. In this class you will be asked to deeply evaluate your own beliefs, thoughts and assumptions about the influence of these socio-cultural factors and consider their implications for your own professional and personal development.

MS_ED 403 Childhood and Early Adolescent Development

This course focuses on the very center of the teacher’s work – the child – and provides students with a variety of lenses through which they can look at the children they are currently working with and those they will encounter in their future lives as teachers. We will introduce approaches to observing children for different purposes; the prominent (and sometimes contradictory) theories of learning and child development; what we know about motivation and engagement and its implications for the classroom; and the socio-cultural contexts which influence both student performance and the way we look at children.

MS_ED 406 Research and Analysis in Teaching and Learning I: Discussion and Question Development

This course aims to help students meet three goals that will advance the progress of the Master's Project and develop skills of questioning and discussion that are useful in many teaching-learning contexts. The three goals include the formation of a question that the Master's Project will address, a description of the rationale for the question and the start of a literature review on the topic.

MS_ED 407 Research and Analysis in Teaching and Learning II: Literature Review and Methodology

This course is a forum in which to investigate the paradigms and approaches to educational research that participants can utilize in their Master's Projects. Participants discuss and refine their research questions and examine methods of data collection within the framework of research plans they design for their projects. Teacher research and action research are particularly emphasized for practitioner researchers. Participants investigate criteria used to evaluate research relevant to education and experience peer review of their own research.

MS_ED 408 Research and Analysis in Teaching and Learning III: Analysis, Interpretation and Dissemination

This course helps course participants refine the reflective skills required of educators in complex social institutions such as schools, businesses and nonprofit organizations and develop effective problem-identification and -solving approaches. Intensive analysis and discussion of questions encountered in elementary and secondary schools, administrative, higher education and corporate settings. Students present their Master's Projects in this course.

MS_ED 423 Foundations of Reading and Language Acquisition: Elementary Teaching

This course is organized to provide preservice and inservice teachers with the professional background to provide literacy instruction to diverse learners in K-8 school settings. It moves from knowledge and belief about reading and language to the applications of organizing and managing creative and effective literacy classroom practices. In the process, students shall examine, evaluate and reflect upon their beliefs about reading and the belief system of others about reading. We focus upon balanced literacy instruction and multiple methods to meet the literacy needs of students in a variety of learning settings. We utilize metacognitive strategies related to readings, projects and all interactions. We believe reading and learning are lifelong processes.

MS_ED 425 Foundations of Writing Processes: Elementary Teaching

This course presents current theory and practice related to writing processes, with emphasis on personal writing experiences, including topic selection, drafting, conferencing, revising, editing and publishing. Other topics include evaluation, writing in various genres, motivating students to write and management of writing workshops.

MS_ED 426 Mathematics in Elementary School from an Advanced Perspective

This course provides an overview of mathematics topics taught in elementary and middle school. This course will model and examine an investigative approach to elementary mathematics instruction, which is purposeful, inquiry-based and meaningful, and which is integrated across math topics and with other content areas. The primary goal of this course is to develop the ability to design and implement mathematics instruction that is conceptually based, reflective and mathematically significant. We will spend time reading about, discussing and reflecting on mathematics content and mathematics teaching in this course.

MS_ED 427 Educating Exceptional Children

Exceptional children have unique characteristics – physiological, intellectual and social-emotional. This course examines the unique characteristics of exceptional children – physiological, intellectual and social-emotional, along with etiological factors. The course also examines trends in legislation and educational programming and approaches to instruction for students with disabilities.

MS_ED 453 Methods and Techniques of Teaching: Elementary

This course strives to introduce candidates to a variety of teaching and learning strategies that can be utilized in elementary and middle school settings for instruction in Science and Social Studies. Emphasis is placed on application of these strategies in an interdisciplinary format.

MS_ED 477 Practicum Seminar: Elementary Teaching

The teaching practicum encompasses a 10-week period of part-time experience under the direction of two classroom mentors. It is performed two different sites – urban and suburban, is organized in conjunction with a subject-specific methods tutorial, and is accompanied by a weekly practicum seminar. The seminar portion of the course is designed to enrich the practicum/observation experience for elementary teaching candidates. Through whole class and small group discussion, course participants will have opportunities to share their observations, questions and reflections. Each week various topics of teaching and learning will be addressed which will help prepare course participants for student teaching.

MS_ED 487 Student Teaching Seminar: Elementary (2 credits)

Student teaching helps teacher candidates develop skills essential for successful professional educators, including the use of theoretical knowledge to inform professional practice and the cultivation of questions rooted in practice to illuminate the meaning of theory. The seminar portion of the course is designed to enrich the student teaching experience for elementary candidates through whole class and small group discussions. Readings, assignments and guest speakers will enrich the course and provide participants with opportunities for reflection, sharing and problem solving of issues encountered in the classroom. The course is consistent with the Illinois Professional Teaching Standards and Northwestern University’s Conceptual Framework.

Graduate-Level Elective

All candidates take two graduate-level electives. MS_ED 413 is recommended, unless the candidate is pursuing a middle school endorsement, in which case MS_ED 422 and MS_ED 428 are required. Other options include MS_ED 435 New Approaches to Science Teaching, MS_ED 436 Design of Learning Environments for Teachers, and MS_ED 438 Teaching with Technology.

MS_ED 413 Problems in the Philosophy of Education (recommended elective)

This course explores classical and modern philosophies of education using text interpretation, analysis of ideas and argument construction. Philosophies are applied to educational issues. Students develop their own philosophy of education in the course. Course participants prepare for and lead discussion about philosophical works.

MS_ED 422 Teaching Reading in the Content Area (For Middle School Endorsement only)

This course is designed to help middle school and high school teachers develop an understanding of specific strategies that readers must use to achieve deep comprehension of content material. We will explore cognitive foundations of reading comprehension and their influence on methods of instruction and assessment, as well as the interrelationships among reading processes and language learning. Theory and practice relationships will be explored as students experience and learn about: text structure, use of background knowledge, comprehension connections, inferencing, strategies for active engagement, socio-cultural influences on reading, reading/writing relationships, text sets and assessment of content reading. As a methods course, we will also discuss the elements of good teaching, the theory and history of teaching, curriculum design, instructional methods and the developmental needs of adolescents.

MS_ED 428 Dynamics of Middle School Curriculum (For Middle School Endorsement only)

The objective of this course is for students to understand and explore the dynamic environment of middle schools and young adolescents, and to consider the impact of middle school principles, structures and practices on classroom learning and instruction. Students will examine the unique characteristics of middle school learning and the educational needs of young adolescent learners, and they will compare and contrast a variety of middle school models, including policy statements, visions and reform proposals.
Students are required to complete 15 graduate courses to complete the master's degree. Some students may also need to take some additional undergraduate classes to fulfill Illinois State Board of Education requirements for licensure (also called deficiency courses – for more information see the certification page). The master's degree program can be completed in as little as one year full-time or two to three years part-time. Most classes meet in the evenings.
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Master of Science in Education
School of Education & Social Policy
618 Garrett Place
Evanston, IL 60208
Northwestern University