The purpose of the Graduating Seminar (EPSE 590) is to facilitate a broad-based demonstration of students’ theoretical and applied knowledge as acquired during their MEd program. The Graduating Seminar is the culminating course in the final term of a student’s program, to be taken concurrently with the final course or following completion of all courses outlined in the Program of Graduate Studies (PGS). During the Graduating Seminar students will create an electronic, web-based portfolio and provide a public presentation on a topic related to the focus of their graduate program. All MEd students in Special Education and Human Development, Learning and Culture are required to enroll in this one-term, 3-credit course that meets face-to-face and is facilitated by a faculty member. This course is offered twice annually.
At the beginning of students’ programs, at the time the PGS is designed with their pro tem advisors, students should articulate 2-3 statements of focus related to the coursework they plan to undertake. These statements may be general in nature, such as “To increase my knowledge in the area of learning disabilities” or “To improve my ability to act as a resource teacher for a diverse population of students”. Or, the statements may be more specific, such as “To be able to use functional assessment techniques to plan positive behaviour support plans for students with behaviour disorders” or “To design a model literacy curriculum for young children with visual impairments”. The PGS should be designed with these foci in mind. The statements will also provide a framework for the development of students’ portfolios for the Graduating Seminar.
Over the course of the MEd program, it is each student’s responsibility to accumulate authentic evidence of his or her development and learning in preparation for the Graduating Seminar. The evidence (artifacts) should represent a student’s own work or collaborative work in which the student had a substantial role in which case the nature and extent of a student’s contribution to collaborative work should be specified. While the exact evidence to be included in the portfolio will vary from student to student, it must contain evidence of a student’s ability to apply coursework in “real world” school, community, or other contexts. Many products are appropriate for inclusion in the portfolio, depending on a student’s area(s) or inquiry and focus. Materials that are appropriate for inclusion in the portfolio include:
- papers, surveys, research projects, or other products (posters, etc.) that were completed by the student during graduate courses taken as part of the program. Such products should be “polished” to reflect instructor feedback and/or reflections on how the product demonstrated or supported acquisition of the student’s stated goals;
- innovative lesson plans or curriculum materials that were developed by the student as a result of graduate coursework;
- workshops or other presentations that were designed and presented by the student in his or her place of employment or at a conference, based on graduate coursework;
- parent training materials that were developed by the student out of graduate coursework;
- Web sites that were developed by the student out of graduate coursework;
- resource manuals or packages on specific topics that were developed by the student out of graduate coursework;
- other products that demonstrate authentic application of coursework to students’ work or goal areas.
During EPSE 590 students are supported in compiling the electronic portfolio including the artifacts that they have collected throughout their graduate program. The artifacts should directly relate to the student’s original statements of focus and/or additional or revised statements. During this class students also plan and provide a public presentation on a topic related to their professional focus throughout their graduate degree. Class presentations are open to students, faculty and the general public. Students’ performances on their portfolio and public presentation are evaluated by the seminar facilitator and one additional faculty member, likely the student’s academic advisor. Grades are assigned on a Pass/Fail basis.