Woman takes notes while talking with a young girl.

All About Concordia University St. Paul’s M.A.Ed. in Trauma and Resilience Program

What does the program encompass?

The M.A.Ed. with an emphasis Trauma and Resilience in Education Settings prepares teachers and educational leaders with highly effective professional skills to apply to current practices, builds strong ethical decision-making foundations supporting urgent responses to the many challenges that arise daily in the diverse field of Education, and fosters a service-minded approach to educational leadership that is based on continuous reflection in order to continue making improvements in classrooms, schools, other educational programs, and in communities.

Equipping educators at all levels with implementation strategies helps student educators be prepared in supporting students, families, and professional peers for coping with various traumatic experiences and building resiliency. This program can truly be transformational to current practitioners in diverse roles in the field of Education who are serving on the front lines during challenging times advocating for equitable learning experiences for students of all ages.

The M.A.Ed. with an emphasis in Trauma and Resilience is specifically designed for graduate students working in diverse roles in the field of Education to successfully demonstrate applicable skills based on the following student learning outcome goals for this program:

  1. Exhibit strong communication (written, oral, and listening) and critical thinking skills.
  2. Synthesize educational research for professional decision-making and reflective practice focused on the improvement of learning.
  3. Articulate a thorough knowledge of the causes and effects of psychological trauma in a systemic, ecological, and socially responsible manner.
  4. Demonstrate an understanding of the impact trauma, abuse, and neglect has on child development.
  5. Recognize and respond to trauma and toxic stress and develop strategies for trauma-informed classrooms and behavioral spaces.
  6. Envision school environments that are sensitive and responsive to trauma and toxic stress, professional development for all school caregivers, and articulate an understanding of the role of families and community partners.
  7. Demonstrate an understanding of when to apply trauma-based, empirically supported interventions, supports, and strategies appropriate for children impacted by various forms of trauma.
  8. Design and implement innovative educational solutions to issues related to the reality of school populations that are multi-cultural, multi-linguistic, and multi-ability.

Professional educators will develop the insights, dispositions, strategies, and skills to more effectively promote resilience and recovery for children and families who have experienced traumatic life events.

What differentiates CSP’s graduate reading programs from other schools that offer similar programs?

The courses in this program, as with our other M.A.Ed. emphasis areas, are scaffolded to optimize student learning and deepen the level of critical thinking skills for graduate learners. Each course is designed to introduce additional learning concepts that student educators can apply to current practices using research to validate implementation strategies. This is one way our program differs from other graduate programs with this emphasis or similar focus. Requiring students to make applications to diverse educational roles builds confidence, strengthens advocacy skills, and deepens the understanding of new learning concepts.

This program also differs from others in the purposeful design of cross-discipline faculty in the areas of Human Services, Forensic Health Science, Criminal Justice, and Family Sciences in collaboration with the Department of Graduate Teacher Education leaders. This unique approach allows us to broaden our perspective for program outcomes, support students in building more comprehensive resources, and recognizes the need to focus on the needs of students and families for a more holistic experience.

Our program also differs from others in the focus it has on current practitioners in the field of Education versus those programs focusing on student practitioners in Health Sciences. Lastly, this program is designed to support full-time educators in successfully completing either a certificate only or the degree by intentionally creating the capstone course that supports students in the completion of the final capstone paper.

Many master’s programs have students take the coursework required but then leave students to complete the capstone or thesis on their own. Research supports higher retention rates for scaffolded adult learning experiences and support in completing the final project that includes a built-in time management strategy for students.

The following are courses and descriptions currently in the M.A.Ed. with emphasis in Trauma and Resilience program for educators:

  • Trauma and its Impact on Child Development: Learners will examine the impact trauma, abuse, and neglect has on child development. Topics include adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) research, bonding and attachment, prenatal and perinatal forms of trauma, and trauma’s impact on the emotional, neurological, social, and physical health of the developing child.
  • Trauma-Informed Practices and Resilience: Learners develop an understanding of what trauma is and how it influences children socially, emotionally, physically, and academically. Topics include indicators of trauma, the impact of violence and other stress on learning, trauma stewardship, the risk of secondary trauma and burnout, tools for coping, strategies to support teachers, and resilience as a response.
  • Trauma-Informed Classroom Teachers: Learners learn to recognize and respond to trauma and toxic stress and develop strategies for trauma-informed classrooms and behavioral spaces. Trauma-informed approaches to fostering student, teacher, and family relationships are explored.
  • Creating a Trauma-Informed School: Learners explore the characteristics of school environments that are sensitive and responsive to trauma and toxic stress, professional development for all school caregivers, and the role of families and community partners.
  • Trauma-Informed Intervention for the Educational Professional: Learners examine and apply trauma-based, empirically supported interventions, supports, and strategies appropriate for children impacted by various forms of trauma (e.g., prenatal, maltreatment, complex, PTSD, and traumatic grief and loss) and learn how to work effectively with and communicate with children who are impacted by various emotional, behavioral, learning, social, and physical health challenges.
  • Educational Research and Applications: A survey of qualitative and quantitative research methods and their applications to educational research.
  • Ethical Issues for Professional Educators: A study of ethics and moral philosophy with application to the field of education. Current educational issues will be examined in the context of the lives and careers of the PK-12 educator.
  • Innovation in Learning and Teaching: Learners explore the science of learning, the curriculum for K-12 educational environments, and theories and innovation for teaching in diverse classrooms.
  • Educational Assessment: Curriculum, instruction, and assessment work together to support student learning. In this course, learners develop the knowledge and skills to practice effective assessment of student learning and program quality in educational settings.
  • Conducting Research and Completing the Capstone: A review and critical analysis of current educational research focused on a specific question. Students complete the Capstone project.

What career opportunities are available to students who graduate from the program? Why should a prospective student choose the program?

Graduates may use this degree to pursue careers in a variety of trauma-informed specialties that are in high demand in the marketplace, such as a trauma-informed care educational professional that provides training and support to educators, students, and/or families; trauma-informed care program advisor or administrator; trauma-informed advocate serving in educational settings affecting policy changes at local, state, or national levels; trauma-informed classroom teachers for students of all ages; and other trauma-informed care educational leaders serving at the district or state level.

The tuition costs are equal or less than many comparable programs, and students take one accelerated graduate course at a time that supports attention to detail for each course. Students complete the M.A.Ed. with emphasis in Trauma and Resilience at CSP in 30 credits (a year and a half). This program is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission in Chicago, Illinois (HLC) and the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).

In developing this program proposal, we responded to this guiding question: Why is the need for this emphasis area so great?

According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, more than 25 percent of American youth experience a serious, traumatic event by their 16th birthday, and many children suffer multiple and repeated traumas (2020). Trauma affects children learning in the classroom and their overall health and development. A trauma-informed approach in schools is gaining traction nationwide as students’ needs change and schools seek to address and overcome barriers to learning. When teachers learn effective responses to student trauma and how to help instill resiliency skills necessary to thrive in the classroom, children have better learning outcomes – both in school and in life.