Early Grade Reading in Developing Countries Graduate Certificate

young student in Nepal pointing at chalkboard

The Early Grade Reading Graduate Certificate is the first university program that focuses specifically on early grade reading in developing countries. This 15-credit, fully-online program offers state-of-the-art professional development for practitioners and policymakers working on early grade reading projects around the world.

The goal of the Early Grade Reading Program is to:

  • Increase the capacity of government and non-governmental personnel to develop, monitor and improve early grade reading programs in developing countries.
     
  • Provide accessible training to practitioners and policy makers who work in early grade reading but cannot attend university classes in the U.S.
     
  • Serve as a stepping stone to a Master’s degree for those who finish the certificate and then want to apply to the International Education concentration at UMass Amherst (the 15 credits from the Graduate Certificate can be applied towards the 36-credit Master’s degree or the doctoral degree with specialization in international education).

The Early Grade Reading Graduate Certificate is most suitable for those who work or intend to work in early grade reading projects in developing countries.

For more information about the Early Grade Reading Graduate Certificate contact egrcert@umass.edu.

Course of Study

Courses may be taken in any order.

Course Description Credits
EDUC 680 How Children in Developing Countries Learn to Read (Foundation Course) 3
EDUC 680B Systems to Support Early Grade Reading 3
EDUC 697TP Teacher Preparation and Support for Early Grade Reading 3
EDUC 687T Materials and Technology for Early Grade Reading 3
EDUC 687R The Role of Community and Family in Supporting Early Grade Reading 3

 

EDUC 680 How Children in Developing Countries Learn to Read

The purpose of this foundations course is to introduce you to how children learn to read in the early grades. By the end of this course, you will be able to:

  • Articulate why reading is important for human development;
  • Explain the research and theory behind learning in general;
  • Explain how children learn the skill of reading, and the role of teachers and direct instruction in reading acquisition;
  • Outline the five components of reading (phonological awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension) and techniques for teaching print skills and meaning skills;
  • Describe critical factors for reading acquisition in a multilingual context, including the difference in strategies needed for learning to read in one’s mother tongue (L1) vs. learning to read in a second language (L2);
  • Describe how curriculum and materials can support early grade reading;
  • Describe how you would plan and implement action research for promoting reading;
  • Create and present an analysis for applying knowledge about how children learn to read to your own context and work.

A Spanish version of this course, “Como los niños aprenden a leer“, will be offered starting Summer 2019.

EDUC680B Systems to Support Early Grade Reading in Developing Countries

The purpose of this course is to help you understand the “big picture” about all of the stakeholders, policies, and systems involved in implementing an early grade reading reform project. By the end of this course, you will be able to:

  • Explain the importance of system reform for improving early grade reading;
  • Articulate what is meant by system reform;
  • Articulate the various components of the system such as policy, finance, curriculum, materials, training, supervision, inclusion and so on, that need reform to make the system effective for early grade reading;
  • Outline the major theories about how to build or reform a workable system for children’s reading;
  • Outline the strategies for system change;
  • Discuss the importance of context, such as cultural, social, political, and economic factors that influence the effectiveness of an early grade reading system;
  • Describe the importance of evaluating the effectiveness of a system; and
  • Create and present an analysis for applying knowledge about reform and systems to your own context and work.

EDUC697TP Teacher Preparation and Support for Early Grade Reading

The purpose of this course is to introduce early grade reading project personnel to the ways in which teachers can be prepared and supported to improve children’s acquisition of reading skills in early grades and apply key concepts to their own context. The goal is to prepare you to:

  • Describe the background and context of early grade reading teachers in developing countries;
  • Identify key skills needed to teach reading in developing countries;
  • Understand the supports and motivations teachers need to change their behavior for successfully teaching reading skills in early grades;
  • Learn about teachers’ beliefs about children and their acquisition of reading.
  • Understand the relevant theories of adult learning and how they can be applied in early grade reading teacher preparation activities;
  • Know the different models of teacher preparation for early grade reading such as coaching, job-embedded professional development, pre-service and in-service training and so on;
  • Find, read and analyze teacher development programs/activities related to early grade reading initiatives that have happened in your country or region;
  • Engage with practitioners from around the world who are or will be involved in developing teachers’ capacity for early grade reading;
  • Design early grade reading teacher preparation programs/activities keeping in mind the contextual factors of developing countries.

EDUC 687T Materials and Technology for Early Grade Reading

The purpose of this course is to help you understand the role of curriculum and material resources to support reading. By the end of this course, you will be able to:

  • Define what goes into a curriculum for early grade reading;
  • Articulate the ways in which classroom-based materials can be effectively used for promoting early grade reading;
  • Describe the various technology that can be used for promoting early grade reading;
  • Identify the materials and resources needed to support children’s reading acquisition, inside and outside of the classroom;
  • Articulate how policy and systems can be aligned for supporting continuous use and improvement of materials and technology for early grade reading;
  • Supervise the design of appropriate materials considering technical, contextual, cost, and logistic factors;
  • Support the development of materials using locally available resources;
  • Explain mechanisms for vetting and evaluating the effective of materials;
  • Analyze and suggest ways to improve the publication and distribution of materials;
  • Explain how the ‘system of materials’ can be assessed to improve design, vetting, production, distribution, and use of materials; and
  • Create and present an analysis for applying knowledge about materials and technology to your own context and work.

EDUC 687R Role of Community & Family in Supporting Early Grade Reading

The purpose of this course is to help you understand the role of and support for community and family participation in improving early grade reading. By the end of this course, you will be able to:

  • Explain the roles that community and family can play in supporting early grade reading in and out of school;
  • Identify stakeholders, such as parents, Parent Teacher Associations, local leaders, and community members who play a role in supporting early grade reading.
  • Explain models of community and school relationship building;
  • Identify the factors that can influence community or family’s involvement in supporting early grade reading;
  • Articulate how to assess and influence family and community members’ beliefs about reading acquisition;
  • Describe how to employ a social marketing approach to change people’s attitudes and behaviors about reading development;
  • Explain models for outreach with all parts of the community, including those who are marginalized;
  • Articulate ways to help the school and community coordinate efforts of multiple donors; and
  • Create and present an analysis for applying knowledge about the role of community and family to your own context and work.

Admissions

Admissions is on a rolling basis.

Prerequisites

  • Hold a minimum of a bachelor’s degree
  • Work or intend to work in the field of education and/or early grade reading
  • Have sufficient English reading and writing skills to participate in the courses (As a guideline, this would be equivalent to at least 80 on the TOEFL IBT. Note that you DO NOT need to take the TOEFL or submit any scores.)

International applicants (non-U.S. citizens) are welcome.

We encourage participants to apply to the certificate program by the end of the second course.

Required Materials

  1. Fill out the online application form
  2. Send the following materials to egrcert@umass.edu:
    1. Résumé or CV
    2. Personal statement (maximum 1 page single-spaced), explaining your interest in the certificate, how your professional and educational background makes this program a good fit for you, as well as your professional development goals.

Transfer of Credits

If, after you complete the requirements for the Early Grade Reading Graduate Certificate, you apply to and enroll in either the master’s (36 credits) or doctoral program with a specialization in International Education, you will be able to apply all 15 credits to that program.