Paraeducator Certification (A.A. Degree)
The two-year paraeducator program is a blend of theory and practice, and you'll have many opportunities to develop your skills in P-12 classrooms while gaining the knowledge needed under the guidance of outstanding professors who have the experience and desire to see you become an outstanding educator.Connect With Us
Dordt is the only accredited four-year college in Iowa that offers an Associate of Arts degree in paraeducator education. Our program leads to the paraeducator certification from the State of Iowa and will equip you to be an invaluable asset to any P-12 school system.
These are the general and specialist paraeducator certifications available:
- Generalist: This degree provides you the certification needed to work as a paraeducator in P-12 classrooms.
- Early Childhood: This degree provides you the certification needed to work as an early childhood specialist in prekindergarten through third grade classrooms.
- Special Needs: This degree provides you with the certification to work as a special needs specialist in P-12 classrooms.
- English as a Second Language: This degree provides you with the certification to work as a ESL specialist in P-12 classrooms.
- Career and Transitional Programs: This degree provides you with the certification to work as a career and transitional specialist in grades 5-12.
What You'll Learn
The two-year paraeducator program is a blend of theory and practice, and you'll have many opportunities to develop your skills in P-12 classrooms while gaining the knowledge needed under the guidance of outstanding professors who have the experience and desire to see you become an outstanding educator.
What You Can Do With A Paraeducator Emphasis
With a paraeducator emphasis, you'll have the opportunity to work as a paraeducator. Most paraeducators work with small groups of students to assist with reading, listening, and more within a classroom setting.
Education facilities in the Ribbens Academic Complex include:
- Three model classrooms for language arts, math, and social studies.
- Model science and computer labs.
- Classrooms with moveable furniture, allowing for multiple configurations for teaching and learning.
- State-of-the-art technology, including interactive Smart Boards, document cameras, advanced lighting options, and presentation equipment as well as other equipment used in today's classrooms.
- A lounge area for informal learning.
- A teacher workroom furnished with state-of-the-art technology, equipment, and supplies needed for pre-service teachers and professors.
Students looking to get a paraeducator certification degree will take a seven fundamental education, complete both some field experience and service learning, and choose nine credits worth of electives.
- Introduction to Education: Designed to introduce students to the domain of education and to induct them into an initial understanding of teaching and the teaching profession. Emphasis is on the development of a distinctively Christian approach to education. Education 101 is a prerequisite to all other education courses.
- Educational Psychology: This course introduces you to the fields of educational psychology and developmental psychology as they help us figure out the teaching and learning environment. This course studies the growth and maturation of children and adolescents, including examination of physical development and activity, cognitive, social, emotional, and spiritual development. We will also look at different roles teachers play such as teacher-as-researcher, teacher-as-observer, and teacher-as-facilitator. This course introduces you to developmental theories and learning theories that impact PreK-12 education today.
- Learner Differences: Examination of individual differences and diverse cultures and communities-ethnicities, SES, immigrant, cognitive (SPED and TAG), gender, learning profiles, as well as English language learners. Focus on designing inclusive learning environments to meet high standards.
- Children’s and Adolescent Literature: This course focuses on the classroom use of literature for children and adolescents. It includes a variety of genres, fiction and nonfiction, technology- and media-based information, and non-print materials. It introduces the student to a wide range of authors and literature, including a variety of cultures, linguistic backgrounds, and perspectives. Ways to encourage reading and interacting with texts in the content areas are discussed and practiced.
- Learning Environments: Focus on designing and implementing developmentally appropriate and challenging learning experiences. Creating individual and collaborative learning environments including competency-based, cooperative learning, technology-supported, experiential, and other environments.
- Foundations of Literacy: This course is an introduction to literacy instruction for prekindergarten thru elementary school. Different philosophical approaches to reading instruction, assessment, and research pertaining to speaking, listening, reading, writing, and viewing will be studied. Topics addressed will include the Science of Reading (including phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension) and the writing process. The standards of the International Reading Association will be introduced.
- Planning, Instruction, and Assessment in Elementary Schools: Spring This course introduces students to an understanding of instructional theory at the elementary school level. Focus is on the planning process and the integral role of instruction and assessment. Emphasis is on the development of a distinctively Christian approach to teaching and learning. Various perspectives on the instructional process are critically examined.
- Paraeducator Field Experience: Spring A 45 hour supervised field-based internship in prekindergarten through grade twelve classrooms (placement determined by the certification option selected ). This course is required for all paraeducator certification options.
- Service Learning-Tutoring: A 25-hour field-based experience to be taken concurrently with Education 201 or 203 in which candidates tutor assigned K-12 students. Graded on a pass/no record basis.
- Nine additional credits from education courses
Noyce Scholars Program
Education students can also learn to teach STEM subjects at the secondary or post-secondary level. The Dordt Noyce Scholars Program has been established to encourage STEM students to consider a teaching profession.
Noyce Scholars receive $15,000 scholarships each year to support their progress toward teaching licensure in a STEM field.
Ready to take the next step?
With experience in a variety of fields, our faculty members are equipped and ready to help you succeed.Faculty Info
Dordt students and alumni use their gifts to make a difference in the world. Check out their stories to see how Defender Nation lives out our mission to work effectively toward Christ-centered renewal in all aspects of contemporary life.
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Still looking for the right fit? Here are some additional program options that we think might interest you or are often paired with this program. You can also view the programs page to keep exploring your options.