One of Elon University’s distinctions is its leadership in the area of “high-impact” educational practices. These high-impact practices are seen as particularly beneficial for the development of undergraduate students. Each year U.S. News & World Report issues a “Focus on Student Success” ranking of key programs that enrich the college experience. Elon is the only university in the nation identified as a leader in eight high-impact practices:

  1. Study abroad
  2. Internships
  3. Senior capstone experiences
  4. First-year experiences
  5. Learning communities
  6. Service learning
  7. Undergraduate research/creative projects
  8. Writing in the disciplines

The faculty and staff in the Dr. Jo Watts Williams School of Education are strongly committed to having students engage in these high-impact practices. Participation rates of 2023 School of Education graduates are listed below:

65%students study abroad
100%students complete internships
46%students conduct research
59%students hold leadership positions on campus
100%students participate in service learning

Read on to learn more about how we accomplish this in the School of Education.

Study Abroad

Studying abroad gives students the opportunity to expand their global perspective and broaden their cross-cultural awareness, better preparing them to lead in the classroom and beyond. Sixty-five percent of Dr. Jo Watts Williams School of Education majors in the Class of 2023 reported studying abroad at least once during their college career. 5.5 percent of the Class of 2023 participated in a Study USA program.

Winter Term Study Abroad Courses

The Dr. Jo Watts Williams School of Education, in conjunction with the Isabella Cannon Global Education Center, offers the following undergraduate Winter Term study abroad courses: Science, Education and Development in India, Malawi: The Warm Heart of Africa, and Jungle Service in Costa Rica.

Semester-long Programs

Examples of programs Education students participate in include:

  • School of Education Center Abroad – Dunedin, New Zealand
  • Liberal Arts and Education Studies – Oxford, United Kingdom
  • Fundación Ortega-Maranon – Toledo, Spain
  • Liberal Arts – Seville, Spain in partnership with CIEE
  • Spanish Studies – Córdoba, Argentina in partnership with the Center for Cross-Cultural Studies


Students who are pursuing degrees in one of the teacher education programs in the Dr. Jo Watts Williams School of Education, with the exception of non-licensure programs, must complete the EDU 4970: Student Teaching course in an approved placement during their senior year. The student teaching experience is designed to transition the candidate from student to teacher.

The student teaching clinical experience provides teacher candidates with:

  • A formal partnership for success that includes the candidate’s university supervisor and clinical teacher
  • Formative assessments to move candidate towards proficiency in pedagogical and professional knowledge, skills and dispositions
  • Reflective feedback to facilitate the learning process

Undergraduate Research

Working under the guidance of a faculty mentor, students engage in inquiry in their chosen field of study and complete an original thesis. Select students present their research in public forums such as Elon’s Spring Undergraduate Research Forum (SURF), Elon’s Summer Undergraduate Research Experiences (SURE), and at regional, state and local content specific conferences. Forty-six percent of Dr. Jo Watts Williams School of Education majors in the Class of 2023 completed undergraduate research while at Elon.

Honors Fellows

Jordan Smith’24, Adventure-Based Learning, Human Service Studies

Lumen Scholars

Isabelle Stimson ’22 (Mentor: Dr. Aaron Trocki)
Addressing Access and Equity in Mathematics Education: The Role of Technology in the Twenty-First Century Classroom


Through Dr. Jo Watts Williams School of Education courses, students develop important leadership skills, such as oral and written communications, decision-making, persuasion, team building, innovation and motivation. Students further develop and practice their leadership skills through co-curricular activities, including consulting projects and student organizations. Fifty-nine percent of Dr. Jo Watts Williams School of Education majors in the Class of 2023 reported serving in a leadership position for a student organization while attending Elon.

Service Learning

Performing service provides students the chance to meet a social need while developing skills they would not gain through formal teaching alone. Service is performed through service-learning courses, student organizations, university programs, on-campus events and community partners. Examples of Elon programs students participate in are The Village Project, Safe Rides, ElonTHON and Relay for Life. One-hundred percent of Dr. Jo Watts Williams School of Education majors in the Class of 2023 reported completing at least one service learning experience while at Elon.

Service-learning Courses

Service-learning courses include service components that are relevant to course objectives. Examples of such courses taught by Dr. Jo Watts Williams School of Education faculty include Supporting Math and Science in Early Childhood, Strategies & Instruction for Struggling Readers, and Early Childhood Language and Literacy.