Department of Special Education, NKNU

|| Brief History ||
The Department of Special Education was founded in 1992. It has been well recognized as a main institute of expertise development in the field of special education in southern Taiwan. Before the Department’s founding, the Special Education Center of National Kaohsiung Normal University has been providing services to families of people with special needs, in-service teachers, and policy makers since 1978. Based on the achievements of this Center, the undergraduate program was launched in 1992, and Professor Bao-Shan Lin, the former Director of Special Education Center, was the first-term Chairperson of undergraduate program. In 1994, the master’s program was established, and Professor Den-Mo Tsai was the first-term Chairperson. Four years later, the doctoral program was founded , and the following Chairperson was Professor Chin-Hsing Tseng. Founded on the solid achievements of the Special Education Center and many efforts made by all Chairpersons, the Department has grown and boomed year by year.

|| Goals and Objectives ||

The primary goals and objectives of the Department involve fostering of teachers, researchers, and administrators in the field of special education. The Department has been focused on creating cooperative teaching and learning environments, enriching curriculum resources, encouraging academic research, and linking research outcomes with practices.

The Department is committed to:

(a) Preparing special education teachers for secondary schools.
(b) Providing credits for non-special-education major students.
(c) Improving special education practice in secondary schools.
(d) Offering opportunities of professional growth for in-service teachers.
(e) Assisting administrators in practice and policy making to meet the challenges of special education they face.

|| Faculty and Staff ||

The faculty and staff of the Department consist of 14 members. They are 8 full professors, 3 associate professors and 3 assistant professors. Everyone holds a doctor degree, and their expertise includes special needs education, gifted and talented education. All faculty members take great interest in instruction, social services, and research. The Chairperson of the Department is elected every three years; Professor Kuei-Chun Huang is the current Chairperson. Professor Ming-fu Tsai takes charge of the Special Education Center.

|| Programs and Requirements ||
For undergraduates to earn the bachelor degree, they are required to complete a minimum of 128 credit hours in a period of four academic years. Additionally, students are allowed to take their minors or earn dual degrees.

The master’s degree is awarded to graduate students who have obtained a minimum of 32 credit hours and finish by a thesis. Graduate students of in-service master’s program are required to take a minimum of 34 credit hours and finish by a thesis. To be awarded the Ph. D., a doctoral student is required to complete a minimum of 34 credit hours, pass the comprehensive examination, publish at least two papers on academic journals, have an oral presentation prior to the application of dissertation proposal, and finally complete the dissertation.

|| Curriculum and Instruction ||
In addition to general educational courses, the undergraduate curriculum consists of 5 special areas, including mild disabilities, profound and severe disabilities, hearing impairments, vision impairments, and gifted education. Undergraduate students are required to complete courses at least in 1 special area. Independent, cooperative, and multi-intelligence learning is emphasized cross different courses. Instructors evaluate students in all kinds of alternatives, such as pencil-and-paper tests, interview, observation reports, curriculum or webpage designs, book reviews or lesson plans. In order to prepare competent classroom teachers, observation and on-the-job training are critical and essential ingredient of the curriculum.

|| Future Perspectives || 
The Department has developed a list of guidelines for future growth. On the list are enhancing teacher training programs, upgrading research, refurnishing facilities, promoting in depth curriculum and instruction, increasing the amount of books, journals, and software resources, developing test instruments, training more professionals who take leading roles in special education, establishing international scholarly collaborations, and providing more social services.
The Department will continue to recruit faculty members in various expertises for building more comprehensive curriculum, improving instructional quality, and preparing competent special education professionals

To meet the demand for more special education teachers and to implement multiple tracks for teacher training programs, from 1999 to 2003, our department initiated summer teacher training programs for post graduates and special education teacher training course for vocational school teachers. In 1999, the department started a teacher training /e-learning program for educators nationwide. In 2001, a master’s program in special education administration was established to offer in-service training opportunities for primary and secondary school teachers. To transform our program for further development, the Master’s Program in Communicative Disorders became part of the Special Education Department in 2013.

In addition, to promote an academic-focused atmosphere in graduate programs, the department added the course - “Special Topics in Special Education Development and Trends” - to our graduate program curricula from 2004. We hope to increase academic exchanges between the students and faculty and develop a deeper understanding of special education development trends at home and abroad. For many years, our department has been hosting academic conferences and special lectures on a regular basis to promote research and academic efforts. To meet the challenges posed by the changing social environment and job markets, the department encourages the undergraduate students to specialize in one sub-area of special education and work towards dual degrees. In 2006, the department started to allow students from other departments to have a Minor in Special Education with two areas of focus: education for students with disabilities or gifted education.  

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