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MEd in Curriculum & Instruction: Community Engagement in Education

Teachers in diverse, low-income, and/or high-needs school environments work very hard to meet the range of needs that students bring to the classroom each day. In addressing these issues, they need specialized skills above and beyond their teaching know-how, understanding how to engage the community in a full-support model for students, teachers, and families. If you’re committed to teaching with the school at the heart of the community, this degree can make all the difference, preparing you to be the teacher your students need you to be. In just one year, our MEd in Curriculum & Instruction: Community Engagement in Education will give you the latest tools and strategies for enhancing the mindset, growth, and abilities of students in partnership with communities.

Backed by Concordia’s commitment to full-child support services for early, elementary, and secondary education, Concordia’s MEd in Curriculum & Instruction: Community Engagement in Education will help you identify effective ways to display cultural competency in the classroom setting. You’ll learn how to develop and customize curriculum through a community-building perspective and facilitate non-violent conflict resolution, including restorative justice practices. And you’ll discover new ways to increase and sustain community engagement.

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Step 1 of 3: What type of student are you?

Step 2 of 3: What would you like to study?

Step 3 of 3: Get info about this program

Yes! By submitting this form I ask to receive email, texts and calls about degree programs on behalf of Concordia University-Portland, and agree automated technology may be used to dial the number(s) I provided. I understand this consent is not required to enroll.
December 2nd
Program Length 1 Year
Credits 30 Credit Hours
Accreditation NWCCU
SCHOLARSHIPS* Up to $3,000
100% online
100% online (no in-person field work required)
One year
Earn your MEd in one year, one class at a time, with built-in breaks
Updated curriculum
Curriculum is up-to-date and relevant
Accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
Concordia is one of the most respected names in learning today
Positive career benefits
87% of our online MEd grads report positive career benefits as a result of their degree
20,000-strong alumni
20,000-strong alumni network
93% of our online MEd grads say they are satisfied with their overall academic program experience

MEd in Curriculum & Instruction: Community Engagement in Education Program Goals

In addition to meeting the objectives and requirements for the MEd in Curriculum & Instruction: Community Engagement in Education online degree program, successful candidates will also demonstrate:
Expertise in Evaluating Progress

Expertise in Evaluating Progress

Expertise in the utilization of new methods of authentic assessment and strategies as tools to evaluate student learning progress in relation to Oregon’s Common Core State Standards and specific district standards

Effective Instructional Skills

Effective Instructional Skills

Effective instructional skills in planning, implementing, and assessing instruction in settings that include diverse cultural populations and special needs

Classroom Diversity Skills

Classroom Diversity Skills

An understanding of the ways that the specific curricular/instructional area has the potential to be responsive to classroom diversity

Moral Leadership

Moral Leadership

A clear understanding of the moral leadership required of them as advanced scholars in the chosen area of curriculum and instruction



The ability to modify instructional plans and promote alternative goals and strategies when necessary, particularly in relation to assessment results


The MEd in Curriculum & Instruction: Community Engagement in Education is a 30 credit-hour program

MEd in Curriculum & Instruction - Core Courses
12 credits

This course will provide teachers with the resources and skills necessary to integrate character themes and character development into their school curriculum. Course provides a forum in which to discuss and develop one's own moral perspectives on the basis of generally accepted criteria.

This course is designed to provide leaders with the latest psychological research about learning and guide them in exploring ways to directly apply these precepts to their current work setting. Topics include cognitive science, learning theory, and relevant teaching theories that utilize this information. The course fuses the latest biological and psychological understanding of how the brain learns so candidates can harness this knowledge and apply it directly to learning situations.

Course challenges candidates to confront the tremendous diversity in their current environment and develop strategies to build community in the midst of the social, ethnic, economic, and alternative lifestyle differences that permeate today's 21st century workplace. Course stresses the critical importance of creating community in the workplace and illustrates how that community can generate an efficient, supportive, and positive workplace.

Candidates identify, review, and analyze major trends and issues impacting the contemporary state and national educational scenes. Each class session provides students with an opportunity to evaluate the advantages and liabilities of current educational reforms and issues from the perspective of prevailing educational research as well as from their own personal beliefs and current work environment. Candidates will also consider how they can impact and influence change in their own workplace.


Please note: Completing a Master of Education degree program does not lead to state certification or licensure. The MEd is not designed or intended to lead in any way toward a teaching license, endorsement, or administrative credential.

MEd in Curriculum & Instruction - Community Engagement
12 credits

Course explores community engagement in education with an equity lens through an ecological perspective. Candidates will analyze the role of multiple stakeholders in educational settings, explore features and successes of community schools, and critique culturally responsive strategies to increase and sustain community engagement within educational system.

Course addresses multicultural perspectives on educational practices, identifying effective ways to display cultural competency in the educational setting. Course addresses the role and types of pedagogies that sustain culturally relevant practices, literacies, and traditions in the classroom in support of historically underserved communities. Scholars of Culturally Responsive Teaching pedagogies will be studied and examined through the lens of identity awareness and practice.

Course identifies practices, tools, and frameworks that support non-violent conflict resolution, including restorative justice practices for PreK-12 educators and others working in educational settings. Analysis of different types of conflict as well as best practices for resolution will be conducted. Restorative justice practices to promote peace and justice in schools will be taught.

Course develops strategies for leading with an equity lens, identifies shared leadership models that are effective for diverse stakeholder groups in a community, and introduces participatory action research as one strategy for community engagement. Course is based on the notion of including PreK-12 students as community stakeholders, recognizing the importance of a culturally responsive and sustaining perspective in leadership.

Please note: Completing a Master of Education degree program does not lead to state certification or licensure. The MEd is not designed or intended to lead in any way toward a teaching license, endorsement, or administrative credential.

Research Course 1
3 credits

This course provides students with the basic competencies necessary to understand and evaluate the research of others, and to plan their own research with a minimum of assistance. This course includes the basics of both qualitative and quantitative research.

The Master of Education culminates with the choice of either EDGR 698-Action Research or EDGR 696-Practitioner Inquiry. Either option provides candidates with an understanding of the role of research in the field of education as a tool to solve problems and as a way to improve student learning.


Research Course 2
3 credits   Select one of the following:

Practitioner Inquiry focuses on the reflective acts of the candidate as an educator seeking to improve teaching practice. Premised on the self-study research methodological traditions, Practitioner Inquiry provides the opportunity to reflect on teaching practice and generate improvements based on classroom observation. Practitioner Inquiry is focused on the educator and her/his own practices, developing skills of inquiry, observation, reflection, and action in teachers.

Prerequisites: EDGR 601 with a B- or higher

Candidates will learn more about the action research methodology, complete final edits of the literature review, and design a complete action research proposal including data collection methods and analysis approaches. During this course, the proposal will not be implemented with students/participants. This design provides candidates with the requisite skills and means to pursue the transformative practice called Action Research in their classroom, school, district or other work environment.

Prerequisites: EDGR 601 with a B- or higher

Please note: Completing a Master of Education degree program does not lead to state certification or licensure. The MEd is not designed or intended to lead in any way toward a teaching license, endorsement, or administrative credential.


In addition to fully online, Concordia offers several Master of Education programs in an on-campus or hybrid format. See the options here.

Is the MEd in community engagement concentration right for me?

Consider choosing this path if:

  • You want to be a leader in identifying and practicing effective ways to display cultural competency throughout your school
  • You want to explore culturally responsive strategies to sustain and increase community engagement within the educational system
  • You want to help children resolve conflict non-violently and help promote peace and justice in the school setting
  • You believe in the importance of including PreK-12 students as community stakeholders, recognizing the importance of leading with an equity lens

Still unsure? We know we offer a lot of programs! Let’s talk more about your professional and personal goals.

Child Learning
"The program taught me to gain the patience to understand everybody’s viewpoints: everybody’s way of learning, how each student is able to understand a concept.
LARRY NEWBY, MEd in Curriculum & Instruction:
Methods & Curriculum '17

MORE ON THE TOPIC OF Community Engagement

What makes this program so relevant today

Promoting equity, social justice, and restorative justice in education helps educators meet the diverse social and emotional needs of their students and to break down barriers and biases, especially unconscious biases. Restorative justice is a powerful, reparative approach to discipline using inclusive processes that engage all parties involved. Restorative justice practices aim to shift the purpose of discipline from punishment to learning and to move from assigning blame to promoting accountability. Restorative justice practices assume that every student is worthy and deserving (also a fundamental equity assumption) and that behavioral incidents arise from other issues needing resolution.

Not only does incorporating social justice theories and restorative justice practices in education help the schools themselves become more fair and inclusive but it also enables students to see and experience equity and social justice firsthand, which, in turn, helps promote equity and social justice in their community.  For the growing number of school districts using restorative justice practices instead of traditional, more punitive disciplinary methods, the restorative justice process has resulted in strengthened school communities, less bullying, fewer student conflicts, and lower (often drastically lower) suspension and expulsion rates. Students also report feeling safer and happier.

Sources: Edutopia, Education Week, Next Generation Learning Challenge (NGLC), Greater Good Magazine, Equity and Excellence in Education, Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences, Institute of Education Sciences (IES)

Community engagement is the process of working collaboratively with groups of people linked by location, interest, or shared circumstances. The purpose of community engagement in schools is to ensure that school improvement is done with the community, not to the community. Through community engagement, schools can bring about important changes. Recognizing how important schools are to their communities, community engagement strategies have produced many short- and long-term educational benefits. When schools, families, and communities work together, students often attend school more regularly, earn better grades, stay in school longer, and even take on greater academic challenges.

Community engagement relies on community building. Building a supportive school community starts with establishing, promoting, and rallying around a shared vision of student success. Suggestions for how to build community include:

  1. Opportunities for involvement: Be active in the community. The most engaged school communities encourage families, students, and teachers to come together and give back to the community. From putting on events (a book drive focused on gathering books with minorities as main characters, for example) to supporting local causes, these activities help foster a sense of belonging.

    To build an even stronger sense of community, reach out to families, caregivers, teachers, and students to find out what they’d like to attend or participate in; let them engage in both the planning and the activity itself.  Find ways to include other community stakeholders (local businesses, health care providers, etc.) who can participate in building relationships with various members of the school community.

  2. Clear and open communication: Vital to building an engaged community is communication. Celebrate your school community’s successes (big and small, academic and athletic, community contributions), address concerns, and share information that would be interesting, helpful, and/or relevant to the community.

    Communicating clearly and openly also means encouraging other voices to be heard. Establish channels for dialogue. Create an environment where discussion is welcome. Make sure everyone in the community is aware of the path to start a conversation or address a conflict.

  3. Clear policies: To foster a safe, inclusive, environment, devise clear, written policies for important topics – such as bullying, body image, and cybersafety – and make sure they’re accessible to the community: on your website, through email, and/or in hallways and classrooms.

    Also crucial is upholding consistent, fair disciplinary actions when a policy is violated. This helps establish disciplinary actions as learning opportunities (a key tenet of restorative justice).

Sources: National Education Association (NEA), Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences, Edutopia, Sustaining Community, Reform Support Network, Teach for America, SkoolBag, Association for Middle Level Education, Center for Inspired Teaching, PTO Today.

Culturally relevant or culturally responsive teaching is a student-centered pedagogy that rests on three pillars — academic achievement, cultural competence, and sociopolitical consciousness. A culturally relevant teacher must focus on all three to ensure that their students engage in rigorous curriculum while also learning to understand and feel affirmed in their identities and experiences.

Culturally responsive practices work best when teachers can demonstrate knowledge about cultural diversity and weave diverse content into their curriculum. Student participation, student-teacher relationships, and student achievement can improve through culturally responsive teaching practices. When teachers communicate that they care about their students’ lives and backgrounds, taking into account their students’ cultures, backgrounds and needs, and when they acknowledge the strengths of their students’ heritages – all culturally responsive practices – they tend to be more effective as educators and have a greater impact.

Some culturally responsive teaching examples include:

  1. Be a sponge: Get to know your students. Open the lines of ​​communication. Talk individually with each of them​​ to ​​learn ​​more about who they are, how they learn, and what they enjoy.
  2. Make ​​homework relevant and culturally specific: ​​​Customize assignments ​​by drawing on specific ​​student​​ interests ​​and ​​cultures in word problems, spelling exercises, or essay questions.
  3. Bring ​​in​​ guest ​​speakers:​​​ Invite​​ speakers ​​to the class who​​ can​​ add ​​context ​​to your​​ lesson​​ and lend ​​an important cultural perspective.
  4. Keep it positive: Showcase ​​different cultures ​​and languages ​​in ​​your​​ curriculum ​​through positive depictions (in books, media, games) of a wide range of cultures.
  5. Let students lead: Have ​​students pitch ​​their own project ideas, ​​allowing ​​them ​​to ​​play to ​​their ​​strengths. You could also try some peer teaching exercises.
  6. Involve families: ​​​Open ​​the ​​door​​ to ​​parent/grandparent/caregiver ​​participation whenever possible. ​​

Sources: Gay, Geneva (2010). Culturally Responsive Teaching, 2nd Ed. New York, New York: Teachers College Press; Prodigy, Edutopia, National Education Association (NEA), The Center for Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning, Wikipedia, Education Week, Teach Away, The Education Alliance at Brown University, Teaching Tolerance.

The MEd in Community Engagement in Education helps educators cultivate the insights, tools, and specialized skills needed to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion; facilitate non-violent conflict resolution; build community and harness the power of community engagement; support and empower students from a range of diverse backgrounds; and strengthen cultural competency. Through curriculum both relevant and timely, students will focus on culturally responsive and sustaining pedagogies, strategies for leading in partnership with the community, social and restorative justice practices, and the latest psychological research about learning.


See where an MEd focused on community engagement could take you

Planning to stay in your current teaching job? Many MEd graduates do! But in addition to potential benefits like increased salary and more self-confidence, an MEd could also expand your career opportunities within the education industry.

Potential careers include:

  • Early childhood educator
  • Community resource officer
  • Higher education instructor: community engagement/community-based education
  • School grade-level chair
  • School department chair
  • School-based community liaison
  • Higher education instructor: culturally responsive teaching
  • Higher education instructor: restorative justice in schools

(Some states may require specific licensure for some of these positions. Check with your state’s Department of Education for more details.)

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