Overview | Requirements | Courses | Faculty



MINOR: The minor consists of two required courses—EDUC 201, Socio-Cultural Foundations of Education and EDUC 207, Conflicts in Education —and a choice of three additional EDUC courses, chosen in consultation with an Education Department advisor, for a total of 20 units.


101 - A History of Urban Schooling in the U.S.

In every major urban center across the United States, children and youth attend public schools managed by highly-bureaucratized administrative entities called 'school districts'. This course provides a historical survey of the evolution of U.S. urban schooling, tracing its development from earliest community-based, one-room schoolhouses to modern, major urban unified school districts. We explore the roles that industrialization & immigration have played in the urbanization of communities, and the ways in which schools have adapted in order to provide for the socialization of the urban worker. We examine shifts in the politics of public education, as it pertains to control over schools and schooling, and the various stakeholders involved. We conclude with a look at the evolving roles of the teacher, school counselor, and the administrator – as well as a glimpse into what the future holds for both traditional and alternative forms of public schooling in urban school communities across the U.S.

140 - Community Literacy

Directed tutoring experience and connecting with children within the context of Occidental's Community Literacy Center. Students work one-on-one with kindergarten through fifth grade children, building upon their strengths, skills, and interests. This course explores a variety of language arts strategies as well as deepens the awareness of the listening, speaking, reading and writing continuum. Students will become familiar with California State Language Arts Standards, and reflect upon their tutoring experience. Graded on a Credit/No Credit basis only. May be repeated for credit.
2 units

141 - Community Literacy With Middle School Students

Meets with middle and high school students for extensive explorations in writing. Occidental students will collaborate and coach writing activities which will include narrative, expository and analytical prompts. This course is designed to deepen the critical and creative abilities of both groups of students, while connecting written explorations to the California State Language Arts Standards.
Graded on a Credit/No Credit basis only. May be repeated for credit.
2 units

145 - Educational Innovations: Challenges and Effects

In this course, students will systematically examine the causes, challenges, and effects of several innovations in schools, such as charter schools, magnet schools, dual-immersion/bilingual programs, high- tech high schools, and online-high school programs. The course will help the students develop an historical perspective of the schooling system and to understand how current and future innovations can impact educational processes. As part of the course, the students will have an opportunity to interact with invited speakers (CEOs from charter schools, school district superintendents and board members, as well as administrators who are Oxy graduates). Students will read research-based studies and articles focusing on the different educational innovations.

201 - Socio-Cultural Foundations of Education

In this course, we will study the historical, philosophical, political, sociological, and psychological foundations of American education. Using an urban sociology lens, we will examine factors that influence power, control and the quality of schooling for underserved school communities. Urban school contexts will be illuminated and brought to life through various required fieldwork experiences. With such experiences, students will analyze the possibilities of teacher leadership through social justice and activism. Requires thirty-six hours participation in tutoring and teaching in public school classroom.

205 - The Politics and Pedagogy of First and Second Language Acquisition

Analysis of the English language development of listening, speaking, reading, writing and thinking skills of elementary and secondary students in culturally and linguistically diverse public school classrooms. Includes the examination of theories and factors (both pedagogical and political) in first and second language development, universals and differences in language structure and use, and the transference of first and second language literacy skills. Includes instructional strategies for non-native English speakers (e.g., native language instruction, sheltered/SDAIE approaches, English language development) integrated into a multicultural curriculum with linguistically appropriate assessment methods, and content aligned with state standards. Requires thirty-six hours participation in tutoring and teaching in public school classroom.

207 - Conflict in Education

How are the American values of equity and opportunity evident in the history and structure of the nation's public school system? This course examines key U.S. Supreme Court decisions and the following areas of policy debate and conflict with particular emphasis on the Constitution: bilingual education, funding/expenditures, immigrant education, desegregation, special education, affirmative action, and equal resources. This course meets the United States Constitution credential requirement.

213 - Chicano Education

This course will cover the historical and current educational issues relating to the largest non-white population in the United StatesLatinos. The term Chicano is used in the political context to reflect the struggle for educational equality of all Latinos. The course emphasizes the socio, political, and economic condition of Chicano students and the impact these conditions have on their educational success in the United States.

215 - Educating African America

This course critically examines the history of the education of Africans in the United States beginning at the Middle Passage, through Reconstruction and the post-bellum South, to contemporary post-industrial urban contexts. Emphasizing the sociohistorical and political-economic dimensions of schooling African Americans, the course explores the role of key factors in shaping the academic 'success' and 'failure' of Black students historically and in current K-16 contexts. Analysis of case law, policy, and practice will inform our understanding of African American experiences in schools nationally and locally. Further, we consider the implications these experiences hold for democratic participation and the overall life chances of African American citizens.
Prerequisites: Education 201

217 - Educational Policy

National reform efforts (e.g., Nation at Risk, No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top) have permeated the educational establishment for decades, yet the achievement gap between rich and poor, and white - non-white students has shown no appreciable progress. This course will analyze current and past policies in education intended to improve the educational experience of all students and address this achievement gap. Students will receive an understanding of policy formation, the effect of applied research relative to educational policy and then select a reform policy (e.g., value-added teacher pay, class size, charter schools, etc.) to further investigate as a project field assignment.

219 - Educational Inequality

This course will analyze the educational infrastructure PK-16 pipeline to examine the nature of inequality. The following three areas will be examined: 1) theories of educational inequality, 2) research on inequality, and 3) policies of inequality. Students will gain a basic understanding of the theories of educational inequality as they relate to genetic, cultural, school and societal perspectives using a critical theory lens. Students will also examine the research addressing educational inequality paying attention to designs, methods and samples covered. And finally, students will analyze educational policies that either reproduce or eliminate inequalities.

281 - Introduction to Data Analysis & Interpretation

This class provides students with the ability to develop a conceptual and practical understanding of research and evaluation in education and the social sciences. Course topics include basic statistics, survey design, data analysis, article critique, and data interpretation. The course will allow students to  demonstrate a proficient knowledge of basic statistics (ranging from basic descriptive statistics to inferential statistics),research design, and analysis. Students will advance from being consumers of knowledge, to being critical when reading previous literature. Students will be introduced to the following concepts: Descriptive Statistics (including Cross-Tabulation), Correlation, Reliability and Validity, One and Two Sample Statistical Tests, ANOVAs, and Simple and Multiple Regression.

283 - Technology in Education

This course covers the various uses of technology in the classroom as well as other related issues, e.g., differential student access. Students demonstrate their understanding of computers and software through hands-on activities and class presentations. They illustrate how technology can be integrated across the curriculum in the classroom through written lesson plans and units. Students learn to access electronic databases for student/school-level information and for subject matter support.

300 - Community Engagement in Education

This seminar will provide students with an opportunity to gain field experiences in an educational setting in urban Los Angeles. Students will select either a public school, a community-based organization, or a policy-making group as a site in which to develop a field-based research project. Regular meetings in seminar will guide students as they spend the semester in a carefully crafted and mutually agreed upon "internship/fieldwork" experience that will culminate in a semester-end project report that addresses an educational issue of import to the fieldwork site. Prerequisite: Education 201 and 207, or instructor permission
2 units

314 - Literacy and Language for Culturally Diverse Secondary Schools

Principles and techniques for creating teacher-student-text interactions, vocabulary development, comprehension, and study skills in all school subjects for all students (including English language learners) at the middle school, junior high, and senior high levels. Topics include diagnostic procedures, activating background schemata, English language development, different instructional models and constructivist-based instructional materials, skills development, standards-based and high-stakes assessment, reading for English language learners/speakers, and procedures for improving students' reading habits and interests. Prerequisites: Education 201, 205 & 300 (concurrent or permission of instructor).

315 - Critical Pedagogy in Secondary Urban Schools

In this course, the students will understand that unlike traditional perspectives of education that claim to be neutral and apolitical, critical pedagogy views all education theory as intimately linked to ideologies shaped by power, politics, history and culture. Given this view, schooling functions as a terrain of ongoing struggle over what will be accepted as legitimate knowledge and culture. In accordance with this notion, critical pedagogy must seriously address the concept of cultural politics both legitimizing and challenging cultural experiences that comprise the histories and social realities that in turn comprise the forms and boundaries that give meaning to student lives. This course will ask students to conduct 15 hours of fieldwork to analyze and evaluate the current state of urban education as well as see transformational models that are possible

316 - Healthy and Safe Schools and Communities

In this course, single subject students are provided multiple opportunities to learn and practice how personal, family, school, community, and environmental factors are related to students' academic, physical, emotional, and social well-being. Students acquire knowledge about diverse family structures, community cultures, and child rearing practices in order to develop respectful and productive relationships with families and communities. Students learn about major laws and principles that address student rights and parent rights pertaining to student placements. In addition, they have an opportunity to learn about the effects of student health, safety, and accident prevention on student learning. Prerequisites: Education 201 or permission of instructor.

318 - Learning Disabilities and Schools

Students in this course will examine laws and policies related to the education of students with special needs in public schools. Principles and practices of effective implementation of these mandates will be analyzed through readings, case studies, guest speakers and reflections from field observations. Students will also learn and practice planning, instruction and assessment and analyze the role of instructional technology in realizing the goals of providing a free and appropriate inclusive education for students with special needs. Requires thirty-six hours participation in tutoring and teaching in public school classroom. Prerequisite: Education 201 or permission of instructor.

320 - Critical Race Theory in Education

Critical Race Theory (CRT) is a historic movement among legal scholars of color in the U.S. that has enjoyed widespread application in a number of disciplines, including Education. This course introduces students to CRT through a close reading of the key writings that formed the movement. We will examine the application of CRT in education research, theory and practice contextualized in a variety of settings including schools, community-based organizations, and other relevant spaces. Specific attention will be paid to the CRT methodology of counter-storytelling and its utility in centering the experiential knowledge of people of color in education. Prerequisite: A 200-level course in Education, or instructor permission

341 - Math/Science Specific Pedagogies

During interrelated coursework and fieldwork, students are provided with instruction and supervised practice to plan and deliver content-specific instruction/pedagogy focusing on the state-adopted academic content standards and/or curriculum framework in the Math and Science content areas. The course provides multiple opportunities for each Math and Science candidate (a) to learn, practice and reflect on the specific pedagogical knowledge and skills targeting the subject-specific Teaching Performance Expectations (TPEs). The focus of the course is on planning and organizing instruction to foster student achievement of state-adopted Math and Science academic content standards and using instructional strategies, materials, technologies and other resources to make content accessible to students. Prerequisites: Education 201 and 205 or permission of instructor).

350 - Freire, Fanon, & Freedom in Education

"How can the oppressed, as divided, unauthentic beings, participate in developing the pedagogy of their liberation?" This course focuses on Freire's theoretical, pedagogical, and practical contributions to contemporary movements in critical pedagogy, critical literacy, and educating for ‘social justice'. Beginning with Franz Fanon's influences on Freirean thinking about revolution and decolonization, we will analyze the construction of the ‘Pedagogy of the Oppressed'. We pay particular attention to the role of the Hegelian dialectic as a driving philosophical method, as well as the significance of Freirean themes in understanding contemporary schooling, education, community activism, and vocation in general. Students will analyze, critique, and reflect upon their own framing philosophies for personal engagement with oppressed peoples and communities - towards the broader goal of defining an individual role in the development of a pedagogy of the oppressed that both negotiates and is informed by students' multiple identities. Prerequisite: A 200-level course in Education, or instructor permission.

397 - Independent Study in Education

Interested students must obtain Guidelines for Independent Study from the Department and complete the appropriate contract from the Registrar. Prerequisite: permission of instructor.
2 or 4 units

412 - Literacy and Language for Culturally Diverse Elementary Schools

An introduction to the theories, issues, and practices of teaching language and literacy in elementary grades. The course provides students with a critical approach to methods, instruction, and curricular choices in the area of language arts, specifically targeted for diverse, and multilingual children. Throughout the semester, students will analyze various instructional methods, theories, and activities that reflect the current understanding of language and literacy learning in diverse school settings. Students will teach several language arts methods in fieldwork placements (40 hours per semester). Prerequisites: Education 201, 205 & 300 (concurrent)


Regular Faculty

La Mont Terry, chair

Associate Professor, Education

A.B., M.A.T., Occidental College; Ph.D., UCLA

Ronald Solórzano

Professor, Education; Affiliated Faculty, Latino/a and Latin American Studies

B.S., M.Ed., Loyola Marymount University; Ph.D., UCLA

Désirée Zamorano

Director of the Community Literacy Center

B.A., UC Irvine; M.A., Cal State Dominguez Hills

On Special Appointment

Suzie Abajian

NTT Assistant Professor, Education

B.A.​, M.A., Occidental College​​; PhD. University of California Los Angeles

Adelina Alegria

Adjunct Assistant Professor, Education

B.A., Cal State Dominguez Hills; Ph.D., UC Santa Barbara

Hanna Spinosa

Adjunct Assistant Professor, Urban & Environmental Policy and Education

B.A., UC Berkeley; M.A., Stanford University; M.A., Ph.D., UC Los Angeles