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University of Rhode Island — Psychology
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PSY 442 - Psychology of Exceptionality
Course Information

Professor: Grant Willis, Ph.D.
Semester: Fall
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: Junior or Senior standing

Catalog Description: Survey of the major issues underlying the classification, institutionalization, and treatment of persons with mental, physical, psychological, and educational disabilities. Specific topics include social attitudes towards exceptionalities, past and current legislation, special education services, and transitions into community life and the workplace.

Course Goals & Outcomes

By the end of the semester students will be knowledgeable about

  • Definitions, models, legal, and historical influences concerning students with exceptionalities,
  • Current trends and issues including transitional and multicultural factors regarding students with exceptionalities,
  • Theoretical perspectives concerning causal and relational factors associated with exceptionalities,
  • Characteristics, etiology, and treatment of specific exceptionalities including mental retardation, learning disabilities, ADHD, behavior disorders, communication disorders, autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorders, hearing & vision loss, TBI, physical & health disorders, and special gifts and talents.
Course Syllabus

Students will demonstrate their knowledge of objectives 1·4 by their performance on exams, class discussion and activities, and by completing an comprehensive final exam or an integrative course project.
Class Topics:

  • Multicultural & Diversity Issues
  • Exceptionality & the Family
  • Learning Disabilities
  • ADHD
  • Emotional & Behavior Disorders
  • Intellectual Disabilities
  • Communication Disorders
  • Brain Injury
  • Autistic Disorders
  • Hearing and Vision Loss
  • Created, Gifted and Talented
  • Physical Health Disorders
About The Professor

This course is taught by multiple instructors, please refer to the URI Course Schedule.

Reasons To Take This Course

PSY 442 meets the Psychology major requirement for a topics course. Psychology majors are required to take 3 topics courses. This is an advanced level course, where the student will learn about human exceptionality, theories of developmental difference, cultural perspectives of differences, and how society judges deviations from “normal.” Students will hopefully come away with a stronger respect for the variety of human exceptionality.

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