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Course Descriptions

All courses are 4-credits, unless otherwise noted.

ED 620G - College Student Retention and Success 
As the higher education landscape changes in response to shifting college student demographics, rising tuition costs, reduced levels of public funding and increased student debt, institutions must adapt and change to meet new challenges. In response, colleges and universities have moved from a focus on providing access to an emphasis on students’ success in reaching educational goals and attaining a degree. Students who successfully complete this course will be able to analyze the historical and scholarly context of college student retention and success, describe how public and institutional policy influence college student retention and success, explain the external pressures on colleges to retain and graduate students, the importance of change leadership and the strategies institutions can take to improve student retention and success.

ED 630G -­ Higher Education in American Society
This required course examines key contemporary issues in higher education, focusing primarily on the American higher educational system. The course provides a historical context and emerging trends, with topics ranging from mission and vision, structure and governance, the funding of public and private institutions, demographic trends, characteristics of faculty, students and curricula, public perceptions of higher education, and the increasing regulatory role of government and accrediting agencies.

ED 640G - Diversity and Social Justice
This required course will focus on social justice education (SJE) in the PreK-16 educational system. Its purpose is to develop a theoretical, conceptual, pedagogical, scientific and curricular foundation for SJE across all educational-­type settings. Students examine systemic and curricular approaches to SJE in educational settings and develop a framework for implementing social justice programs across schools and communities.

ED 667G - University-­Community Relations
This course is an exploration of patterns of communication, interaction, and relationships between institutions of higher education and their local and regional communities. The course examines how historical, social, cultural, and political forces impact such relationships and interactions, and how various iterations of power and influence play out between colleges and communities. We will think about such relations within the context of the media and the press, the goals of community development and change, and the role of the university in its engagement with the public sphere.

ED 676G - College Teaching and Learning
This course provides an introduction to the teaching strategies and learning paradigms typically used in post-secondary education. Issues addressed in this course include curriculum design and development, assessment, syllabus construction, and the implications of multiple factors -­ such as technology, student diversity, online environments, and the changing nature of faculty work as it relates to teaching in the college classroom. Practice in instruction and instructional design will be a centerpiece of this course.

ED 683G - Gender in Education
How does gender affect our experiences with education? What educational environments support the growth and development of students of all genders? What differences does gender make with respect to teaching and learning, and both inside and outside of the classroom engagement? These questions are central to understanding the role that gender plays in education. This course will examine educational theory, practice, and policy through the lens of gender identity and equity across the K-­16 spectrum, and will focus on creating educational interventions for sexual assault awareness week. This class is cross-­listed in Women’s and Gender Studies (EDU 4683) for both graduates and advanced undergraduate students

GRAD 590 - Capstone
The required capstone project serves as the culminating academic project within the masters of education pathway. It offers an opportunity to explore a key educational issue (PK-­16) through an in-­depth research paper wherein prior coursework or classroom based experiences allow the author to synthesize and deepen his or her understanding on that topic. The Capstone Project may be theoretical, practical or action research-­based. More details about this course will be covered in the fall.

HED 505G - College Student Development Theory
The college years are a time of significant personal, psychosocial, and cognitive growth for students, as they encounter and navigate various challenges typical to emerging adulthood. This course will familiarize students with the major theories of college students’ development, and explore the creation of environments and contextual factors that facilitate this growth. Multicultural identity development will also be a focus of this course.

HED 546G - Leadership Theory and Practice in Higher Education
Leadership in higher education is dynamic, often defying simple theoretical explanation or consistently applied platitudes. The diversity of leadership roles in higher education demand a wide variety of styles and strategies. Students will be acquainted with leadership theory in higher education as it is practiced by governing boards, administration, faculty, and other stakeholders, and will develop a leadership philosophy reflecting the core components of visionary leadership in the face of change.

HED 555G - College Counseling and Advising
Student affairs educators are frequently called upon to support students as individuals during times of personal and academic challenge. In order to facilitate learning, agency, and growth, basic counseling skills (e.g. Active listening, motivational interviewing, and values clarification) are essential to good practice. This course will introduce students to introductory counseling theory and methods and will include practical exposure to identifying college students’ presenting concerns, responding appropriately and developmentally, and making referrals.

HED 583G – Civic Engagement and Higher Education
In 2015, the American Association for State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), the Democracy Commitment (TDC), and the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA) announced a partnership to systematically advance the civic learning and democratic engagement of college students. This strategic partnership is just one result of a long history of civic engagement in U.S. higher education. The collaboration aims to build higher education cultures and contexts that foster an institutional civic ethos, student civic literacy and skill building, as well as civic inquiry, action and agency for students, faculty and institutions. This course will examine the history and underlying philosophical and theoretical dimensions of civic engagement in higher education including topics on service-learning, alternative breaks and citizenship abroad, community partnerships, social justice, the Carnegie Classification for Community Engagement, Campus Compact, and civic engagement internationally. We will explore the organizational, infrastructural and programmatic implications for higher education institutions needed to advance civic and democratic engagement. Through this course, students will gain a more nuanced understanding of the civic responsibility of higher education in contemporary university-community partnerships. Upon completion of this course, students, as the next generation of student affairs and higher education professionals, will have a more holistic sense of their identities as civic professionals advancing justice and equity within higher education.

HED 585G - Higher Education Policy and Practice in Ireland
Short-term study abroad
In this course students will learn about higher education policy and practice in Ireland. During spring break, students will visit to three to five higher education institutions in Ireland – Dublin, Galway and Cork. Students will learn about the national structure of higher education in Ireland and driving national policy. We will examine issues of access and equity, student engagement and experience, community engagement, resident life, and student services and affairs in Irish higher education. We will have an opportunity to see how students are supported through visits to student affairs offices at the National University of Ireland, Galway, University College Cork, Trinity College, Dublin City University and Dublin Institute of Technology. We will learn about policy through visits to the Higher Education Authority, which is the national regulatory body as well at the Irish University Association, the representative body for Irish Universities. Students will draw comparisons between higher education policy and student affairs practice in Ireland and in the United States. *NOTE: Students self-­fund the study abroad component of this course.

HED 6570G - Introduction to Admission and Enrollment Management (2 credits)
Admission offices and enrollment management have become the backbone of higher education institutions. They determine the demographic makeup of campuses across the world, dictate who had or does not have access to advanced education, and serve as gatekeepers to success and access to opportunity. By exploring the historical and present-day systems, policies, and practices that form the work of admission and enrollment management, we can better comprehend the current realities of the higher education system and the people (and corporations) it serves. Questions asked and answered in this course will include: Why does a university admit the type of students it does? Are SAT and ACT test scores a fair and valid indicator of student success? How do federal policies and laws like affirmative action, DACA, and financial aid positively and/or negatively impact students, families, and post-secondary institutions? In order to better understand our work as higher education professionals or practicioners within education at any level, it is critical to develop a basic understanding of the vocabulary and basic concenpts that impact and form admission and enrollment management.

HED 6700G - Assessment in Student Affairs and Higher Education (2 credits)
This course will examine the role of assessment in student affairs and higher education, and provide a foundational introduction to designing and implementing assessment plans as an integral element of program development. A brief examination of the context driving the current Accountability Era, including questions from government entities and the public regarding the value of higher education to its students, grounds dialogue around the importance of identifying appropriate strategies across an institution to demonstrate impact. Students will study conceptual models for assessment, direct and indirect measures, learning goals and assessment design, and analysis and application of results. Case studies and exploration of current events will foster understanding of applying ethical standards when implementing assessment and collaborating with stakeholders across campus. The course will be oriented towards preparing students for entry level roles in student affairs and other administrative functional areas, but will briefly explore assessment issues in academic affairs and faculty life, senior leadership, governance, and regional accreditation. Students will apply their learning to designing an assessment plan for a program or activity within an administrative unit on Merrimack’s campus.

HED 6750G - Supervision in Higher Education (2 credits)
This course will explore keys to supervision as it intersects with human capital development, as outlined in the ACPA/NASPA Professional Competencies Rubrics.  Students will learn the components of effective supervision, explore their own personal style of supervision, and develop strategies to empower staff and build teams.  Through case studies, video clips, role-play, articles, and discussion, students will engage in hands-on assignments and activities to gain practical skills.  

HED 560G - Fellowship/Assistantship in Higher Education (2- or 4-credits)
Required for fellows and those in Assistantships
This course is designed to provide a dedicated space and time for discussion of issues related to the higher education fellowship. The focus of the course, in addition to the 12-­25 weekly hours spent in the fellowship or assistantship setting, is to reflect upon the experience of working in higher education, and to enable students to learn from one another in exploring the challenges and accomplishments of their work. The focus for the Spring term is to prepare students for their job search and beginning their first professional positions. Additionally, each fellow is required to meet with the instructor and their supervisor twice during the course of the semester: at the beginning and mid-­term point.

ED 580G - Directed Study (2- or 4-credits)
Qualified students may, with the approval of the Higher Education Program Faculty, enroll in a directed study that fulfills the requirements of a course in their approved program. A final project that demonstrates the student’s proficiency in the topic will be required. This will be done under the direction of a faculty member of the Graduate Education Department. Students must apply to undertake a directed study and receive approval from the department.