Psychology (PSYC) 403

Assessment and Instruction for Students with Diverse Needs (Revision 2)

PSYC 403 Cover

Delivery Mode: Individualized study online or grouped study (with eTextbook)

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Social Sciences

Prerequisite: EDPY 351 or EDPY 389/PSYC 389

Precluded Course: EDPY 400, PSYC 348, PSYC 400, and PSYC 403. (PSYC 403 is a cross-listed course—a course listed under two different disciplines—with EDPY 403. PSYC 403 may not be taken for credit by students who have obtained credit for EDPY 403, EDPY 400, PSYC 400, or PSYC 348.)

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

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Psychology (PSYC) 403: Assessment and Instruction for Students with Diverse Needs provides a practical approach to teaching and managing children with learning differences. It emphasizes evidenced-based practices, specific teaching and management strategies, the development of materials, and various classroom and curriculum modifications to meet the needs of students with learning difficulties. This course examines many aspects of teaching and suggests a variety of practical approaches reflecting a number of theories.

Learning Outcomes

When you have completed PSYC 403, you should be able to do the following:

  1. Discuss a range of approaches to learning and teaching.
  2. Explain the response to interventions and multitier systems of support for students with learning and behaviour challenges.
  3. Outline assessment and instructional strategies for the assessment of behaviour, oral language, reading, writing, math, and content learning.
  4. Discuss the issues in and strategies for coteaching and collaborating with professionals and families.
  5. Critically assess research literature related to learning and behaviour challenges.
  6. Develop a complete individualized program plan that is appropriate for students with learning and behaviour challenges.


PSYC 403 consists of eleven units divided into two main parts. The third part of the course consists of students doing the research for, and writing, the final assignment, a literature review paper, and completing two other assignments.

Part I: Understanding and Planning Instruction for Students with Learning and Behaviour Problems

  • Unit 1: Monitoring and Teaching for Understanding
  • Unit 2: Approaches to Learning and Teaching
  • Unit 3: Response to Intervention and Multi-Tier Systems of Supports
  • Unit 4: Managing Behaviour
  • Unit 5: Coteaching and Collaboration: Working with Professionals and Families

Part II: Instructing Students with Learning and Behaviour Problems

  • Unit 6: Assessing and Teaching Oral Language
  • Unit 7: Assessing and Teaching Reading: Phonological Awareness, Phonics, and Word Recognition
  • Unit 8: Assessing and Teaching Reading: Fluency and Comprehension
  • Unit 9: Assessing and Teaching Writing and Spelling
  • Unit 10: Assessing and Teaching Content Area Learning and Vocabulary
  • Unit 11: Assessing and Teaching Mathematics

Part III: Research


To receive credit for PSYC 403, students are required to complete a Planning Activity, a two-part Skills Survey, five Reflection assignments, four iterative versions of an Individual Program Plan (IPP), and a Literature Review Paper. Students must achieve a grade of D (50 percent) or more on each assignment, and an overall course composite grade of D (50 percent).

Activity Weighting
Planning Activity 5%
Skills Survey (Parts 1 and 2) 5%
Reflections (5) 25%
Individual Program Plan 40%
Literature Review Paper 25%
Total 100%

Course Materials


Registration in this course includes an electronic textbook. For more information on electronic textbooks, please refer to our eText Initiative site.

Vaughn, S., & Bos, C. S. (2015).  Strategies for teaching students with learning and behavior problems (9th ed.). Pearson.

A print version of the eText may be available for purchase from the publisher through a direct-to-student link provided on the course website; you can also acquire the textbook on your own if you wish.

Other Materials

All other course materials are online.

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 2, August 12, 2020