- Engagement: Does the service component meet a public good; has the community been consulted;
have campus-community boundaries been negotiated?
Engaging students in meaningful, relevant, need-based and well-supervised service is critical to the success of any quality community learning course. The academic study may be in any discipline or combination of disciplines. The service may address a variety of community needs, such as direct service to people in need, improvement of community resources, community outreach and education, research, or policy analysis.
- Partnerships: Are partnerships reciprocal; how can partners serve as co-educators on relevant
- Partnerships should be reciprocal; partners serve as co-educators on relevant community issues. The Center has established community partnerships with numerous community organizations. Select community organizations carefully.
- Reflection: Is there a mechanism that encourages students to link their service experience to
course content and to reflect upon the value and benefits of their engagement?
- Reflection is an essential element of effective community learning. It links service to the intellectual and academic learning goals of the course. As students are prompted to explore and analyze their service experiences, they become aware of what they have actually learned and can make connections to currisula as well as their everyday lives.
- Outcomes: Are course learning objectives linked to the service experience; do they include
a specific area of knowledge or skill-set students should hone through their service,
or a thematic or topical area students with which students should become familiar?
- Community engagement has been defined as working to make a difference in the civic life of our communities and developing the knowledge, skills, values and motivation to make that difference. Outcomes for a course in a particular discipline may emphasize any of these aspects.
- Assessment: Is there a process for documenting educational assessment of both course and department
goals in measurable terms of knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes?
- Educational assessment is the process of documenting, usually in measurable terms, knowledge, skills, attitudes and beliefs. Assessment can focus on the individual learner, the learning community (class, workshop, or other organized group of learners), the institution, or the educational system as a whole.
- Our Center is embarking on measuring the effects of community learning on student motivation, critical thinking, civic and academic engagement. If you'd like to learn more about our assessment methodology, please e-mail us.
Keys to Best Practice Community Learning
- Clear understanding of community learning and its relation to course goals
- Communication and collaboration with community partners
- Orientation and best practices in risk management for students
- Processes for student reflection, dialogue, dissemination of learning