James Scholars

About the College of Education James Scholar Program

The James Scholar Program is a University-wide program established to encourage undergraduate research, independent study and the opportunity to work with renowned faculty.

In the College of Education, the James Scholar Program provides a rewarding educational experience for students with exceptional academic skills. James Scholars in Education are civically engaged, global citizens and leaders able to use research based decision making skills. James Scholars are creative, collaborative and think critically as they prepare to enter the workforce.

As a James Scholar, we expect you to view the world from all different perspectives and become change-agents in society. It is our hope that the honors community in the College of Education will allow you to find and discover opportunities and take risks that broaden your thinking so you leave here ready to make a difference in the field of education. Diversity is a key element of the College of Education, and we expect you to become enlightened and compassionate about current educational issues related to social, environmental and economic justice.

To this end, Education James Scholars are encouraged to develop transferable skills and academic discipline  centered around the following themes:

Civic Engagement and Global Consciousness
Professional Development




Overview of the James Scholar Program

James Scholars have the opportunity to live in the campus Honors Living Learning Community http://www.housing.illinois.edu/living-options/living-learning-communities/honors-llc  

Incoming Freshmen will be expected to select James Scholars options in accordance with the requirements of the designated four themes in order to be eligible for cords at graduation. Two research projects are required.

Incoming transfer students are not bound to the four themed requirements - but are encouraged to participate in any options offered. Students must successfully complete a James Scholars Project in the Fall and Spring semester in order to receive James Scholar recognition. For all requirements, please see Program Details


General Projects

I. Course Related eHCLA (Repeatable Option)

James Scholars can use eHCLA’s (electronic Honors Credit Learning Agreements) in conjunction with the instructor of one of their regular classes. The project is determined by the instructor of the course. Students may also elect to use eHCLA’s to work with a professor on research projects outside the classroom. Please refer to Participating Faculty Researchers for details.

II. Designated James Scholar Courses

CI 205 (Spring only) and EDUC 102 (freshmen only) are designated James Scholar courses that count for James Scholar credit. You do not have to complete any additional projects or presentations in order to get James scholar credit if you select one of these options.

Special Opportunities for James Scholars!

Listed below are a few ongoing special opportunities for James Scholars who are interested in expanding their knowledge about Leadership, Research, and more!
I. LEAD Leadership Courses

The past year, James Scholars had the opportunity to take an ACES or AGED for James Scholar leadership credit. I am pleased to announce that this has been added as a permanent course option. Consider registering for one of these 8 week courses if you are looking for a leadership option. LEAD Courses

II. Research opportunity

Students have the option to work with CI PhD student Mary Lyons.

Student responsibilities include transcription of audio recorded during interviews

and teacher meetings as well as some organizational work. The project will be

focused on strategies kindergarten teachers use while integrating play into their

prescribed curricular resources with a lens on strengths and barriers that exist

in their classroom, school, district and community contexts.

Contact Mary Lyons for more information!

III. Ongoing Education RESEARCH opportunity - Work with faculty and graduate student!

The Napolitano research group is offering a unique opportunity to be involved in

multiple stages of the research process, including a critical role in data collection!

You will have the opportunity to collect data from middle and high school

students in an Educational Psychology research experiment!  This summer we

are conducting a research study that is investigating how adolescents use

multiple means to achieve their goals. Research indicates that goal pursuit is a

critical skill, but success is not guaranteed. People develop backup plans to

deal with the unpredictability of goal pursuit, but backup planning may impact

goal pursuit. We are conducting one of the first studies to examine this process

in adolescence. 

Students majoring in Education, Psychology, and HDFS are particularly encouraged

to apply, but all majors are welcome to inquire. Experience with previous research

studies and CITI training preferred, but not required! 

This is an ongoing research study. Data collection is taking place this July. Data

entry, analysis and dissemination will take place in August and in the Fall.

YOU can choose how involved you would like to be! 

Please email the Project Coordinator, Bethany F. Hoff, at 

bflemng2@illinois.edu, or visit our lab website at 

http://www.cmnapolitano.com/ if you are interested in this


IV. CI 199 Building your Teaching Toolbox Fall 2020

Students can take CI 199 (offered in a three course sequence NL1, NL2 and NL3) for James Scholar credit. NOTE- courses must be taken in order starting with NL1). CI 199 NL1 will be offered the second eight weeks of fall 2020. You can then continue in spring 2021 with CI 199 NL2 if you wish. 

Course Description:

Building Your Teaching Toolbox I: Standards & Assessment THIS COURSE IS A PREREQUISITE FOR CI 199 SECTION NL2. The primary goal of the course is to prepare you to walk into your future classroom with confidence in your ability to understand the learning standards you are accountable to, how those are turned into meaningful learning objectives for the learners you serve, and how to formatively and summative assess learner’s progress in meeting those objectives. This course will help you build skills and resources that will serve you in your methods courses, clinical experiences, student teaching…and beyond. The format for this course is blended. As specified in the course schedule course meetings will be face-to-face, online, and time will be provided for group work expectations. In addition, this course is a James Scholar Credit opportunity via a course project. Please note: this course is restricted to COE undergrad teacher licensure majors (Early Childhood, Elementary Education, Middle Level Education, & Special Education).


Theme Projects

I.  Research – (2 REQUIRED)

II.  Civic Engagement and Global Consciousness – (1 Recommended)
Service Learning & Social Justice

Please consult the campus Class Schedule for availability and times.

ARTE 260- Museums in Action

FAA 199/499- Choreographing Leadership

IS 418- Community Engagement

SPAN 232- Spanish in the Community

SPAN 332- Spanish and Entrepreneurship

UP 478- Community Development Workshop

CHEM 199– Undergraduate Open Seminar (only specified sections such as Sci Ed and Research for Children, Kids and Chemistry Outreach program)

EPS 390- Education & Social Justice

LINC Courses

ENG 298- Special Topics (examples include but are not limited to Lego Robotics Mentoring or Learning in Community with Don Moyer’s Boys and Girls Club).

ENG 398- Special Topics (examples include, but are not limited to Engineering for Social Justice Scholars Program).

Study Abroad

If participating in a spring/winter break or summer study abroad program (taken from Illinois), students can earn James Scholar credit by presenting their experience AT A SPRING SEMESTER EVENT. NOTE: James Scholar Credit must be the immediate semester but is based on the commitment to present at a spring venue.  


Students who study abroad in the summer will earn fall James Scholar credit but it is based on their presentation in the spring and does not constitute their spring project since it counted for fall.

Students interested in earning James Scholar credit for study abroad will need to create a 4-5 minute video about their educational experience and present at one of the James Scholar spring events.

Contact the College of Education Admissions and Records Officer at recordsofficer@education.illinois.edu with questions and for video and presentation details.


PLEASE NOTE: Semester long study abroad trips automatically fulfill the James Scholar requirement for the semester the student is abroad. The semester long study abroad does not require a presentation.


III.  Leadership – (1 Recommended)
I. Leadership Center I-Program.

Please note, students may use a total of two Leadership programs to count for James Scholar credit. If you have already attended two Leadership Center programs for James Scholar credit, please select another option.

To receive James Scholar credit, you will need to follow these steps in order:

1. Register for an I-program (ex. Intersect) through the Leadership Center website: It needs to be a program you have not previously attended.


2. Once you receive an email confirmation from the Leadership Center, please forward the email to recordsofficer@education.illinois.edu.


3. Submit the eHCLA by March 1st or October 1st to indicate which program you will (or did) attend. This option is only available if you have already forwarded the email registration confirmation in step 2.


4. Once you attend the program, please submit a copy of the certificate either by email or by stopping by our main office at 110 EDUC no later than the end of the semester in which the program was attended.


To receive James Scholar credit for attending an Illinois Leadership Center program, students are expected to be an active and positive participant.

II. Leadership Course options

LEAD 140: Harnessing Your Interpersonal Intelligence

2 credit hours

  • Section A – 1st 8 weeks – Online – CRN 70625
  • Section B – 1st 8 weeks – In Person – Wednesdays 4:00 – 5:20 p.m. – CRN 70627
  • Section C – 2nd 8 weeks – Online – CRN 70628

Who Should Take This Class:  Freshman, Sophomore, or Junior students in ANY college/major interested in developing their self-awareness, self-management, and interpersonal communication skills to be effective team members and leaders.

Course Description: Students will expand their capacity for communication, collaboration and team leadership to navigate the complexities of the university and beyond. In this course, students will learn communication strategies to work with others and practice self-awareness, self-management, and interpersonal communication skills in a supportive setting to reach their personal potential as emerging leaders.


LEAD 170: Leading Student Organizations

2 credit hours

  • Section A – 2nd 8 weeks – Online – CRN 70626
  • Section B – 2nd 8 weeks – In Person – Wednesdays 4:00 – 5:20 p.m. – CRN 70629

Who Should Take This Class: Freshman, Sophomore, or Junior students in ANY college/major interested in developing their organizational leadership skills to be effective leaders in student, university, or community organizations in which they are involved.  

Course Description:Students will develop their capacity for leadership in university and volunteer organizations. In this course, students will learn about organizational structures, elements of effective organizations, strategies for leading other people, and applications beyond formal student organizations.


LEAD 470: Leading Professional Organizations and Communities

1st 8 weeks (1/21/20 – 3/13/20)


CRN 70630

2 credit hours

Who Should Take This Class:  Students with Senior Standing and Graduate Students in ANY college/major interested in developing their leadership skills to be effective leaders in complex professional, academic, or community organizations.  

Course Description: Students will develop their capacity for leadership in their current and future professional positions in business and academic research teams, as well as within their broader community. This course's activities are designed to help students understand organizational structures, effective organizations, leading other people, and application of systems thinking beyond formal organizations to communities and society.

IV.  Professional Development - (HIGHLY Recommended - Student Teaching Semester only)
A Study on Teacher Supervision/Evaluation

During the student teaching semester study the impact on the new district and state mandates for teacher supervision and evaluation.  These mandates include: evidence-based observation, teacher artifact collection, and Student Learning Outcomes (SLO's).  Collect samples of observation and evaluation instruments, SLO processes, artifact collection guidelines, etc.  Consider their alignment to the Danielson Framework for Teaching or other teacher evaluation framework, interview teachers and administrators about district policies, practices, and reactions to new evaluation and supervision practices.  Present your findings in a media-rich format, using images, video, and other resources and upload your work to a private YouTube channel.

Attend an Ongoing District Professional Development Opportunity

Work with your school to identify, select and participate in a sustained/extended district-wide professional development opportunity and write a paper, create a poster presentation, brochure or technology-supported resource guide with thoughtful reflection and assessment of the program.(Example: Book Clubs, Curriculum Committees, Program Implementation/Review, Data Teams, etc.)

EDUC 102 Annual Poster Session

Create a Clinical Experiences Interactive Blog

While student teaching, create, maintain and post a blog to be used interactively with College of Education students.  Blog should contain vignettes, weekly “diary-like” entries, and/or an account of specific classroom activities and teaching techniques, followed by thoughtful reflection, assessment, and suggestions for growth and improvement when applicable. This blog is intended to support the development of teacher candidates in early stages of the professional course sequence and to highlight successful practical applications of knowledge, skills, and dispositions developed through University coursework.

Service-Learning Project

Attend an orientation workshop on service-learning programming, co-facilitated by College faculty and staff with experience and interest in service-learning in the P-12 setting and then implement a full-scale service-learning project in the student teaching classroom.  The project must adhere to recommended best practices in service-learning as an pedagogical tool in the classroom with periodic review of the various stages of project design, implementation, and evaluation.