The Science of Special Needs Pedagogy

The definition of the Science of Special Needs Pedagogy is not an unambiguous as internationally different emphases on it can be found. In each country the development of an educational system and associated research interests in these issues have influenced the concept of special needs pedagogy. However, the common understanding currently is that special needs pedagogy is an applied science.The foundations of special needs pedagogy can be found in educational science, psychology, medical science and social sciences.

The definitions special needs pedagogy and special needs education are often used synonymously although special needs pedagogy is a field of science that is studied at universities. It can be defined as a field of science that “examines learning, education and training of those individuals and groups whose needs are not met by arrangements designed for the majority of learners (Moberg et al 2009, 12).

Schools and educational organizations offer special education to those learners who require support for their learning.

Different fields of science approach the same phenomena from different perspectives. For example, the psychological view point examines the phenomena from the individual’s perspective whereas the sociological approach highlights environmental aspects.

Familiarize yourself with the help of the web links below how different scientific fields consider issues related to special needs pedagogy.

Educational science 

The Finnish Journal of Education (theme editions) In Finnish

  •    3/2001 Erityisopetus, 5/2006 Inklusiivinen kasvatus, 2/2009 Erityispedagogiikka

Medical science


Special needs pedagogy tries, through research and its implementation, to discover the pedagogical solutions in order to provide support for various special educational needs. It is studied as a major subject in special needs teacher education programmes but it also offers skills and knowledge to work in other specialist tasks in the educational field. In Finland, special needs pedagogy can be studied at:

Special education is teaching that is offered to those learners who require special support. Reasons to offer special education can be varied. Special education and other special support for learning and studying is offered in pre-schools, compulsory education, post 16 education (upper secondary education), vocational education , universities and voluntary adult education .

Special needs teacher training for VET is offered in JAMK University of Applied Science, Teacher Education College in Jyväskylä 

Services for disabled persons and individuals with long-term illnesses are offered within the framework of the disability law

Some reference materials:

Frederickson,N. (2009) Special Educational Needs, Inclusion and Diversity. (available via Ebrary)

Florian, L. and Black-Hawkins, K. (2011) Exploring inclusive pedagogy, British Educational Research Journal, 37:5, 813-828