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Report the Community-Based Learning Hours & Impact from your Course
Check out our Community-Based Learning Best Practices for PCC!
Successfully incorporating community-based learning into your course will take thoughtful pre-planning. Remember that community-based learning is not intended to be more work for you or your students. It is not an additional component; rather it is an experiential method of teaching course concepts. The success of your students meeting the course learning objectives and making a difference in the community depends upon a well-integrated package of syllabus, orientation, reflection, and assessment. The Community-Based Learning Staff can help you with any and every step of the process. We are here to help you! Please take advantage of us!
- Review the PCC Community-Based Learning web site for an overview of community-based learning and services the community-based learning staff can provide.
- Schedule a meeting with the faculty coordinator for your campus to discuss: learning goals for your course, types of community-based learning projects, whether to require community involvement or have it as an option, how many hours the students will perform, prospective community partners, and more.
- Be sure to ask for your course to be listed in the Community-Based Learning section of the class schedule. This will not only allow your course to appear twice in the schedule, but also alert students to the community involvement option. We will also place a footnote on your course under the discipline listing.
- As you teach your course, be sure to check in with the community-based learning staff and your community partners to see how things are going.
- At the end of the term, be prepared to turn in your student forms and other tracking information to your campus Faculty Coordinator or the Community-Based Learning Program Office (SY SS 215). (Common tracking information includes: community partners worked with, number of students engaged in community-based learning, number of hours of community involvement, general course information.)
- Consider the course learning objectives (CCOGs) for the course.
- What objectives could be met through community involvement rather than a traditional assignment? Is there a research paper where real-life experience would enhance the opportunity?
- Try to articulate in writing what you want your students to gain through the experience and how will that be of value to the community.
Identify community needs that may be appropriate for meeting your learning objectives. You may have your own ideas for potential community partners, you can review the opportunities posted in the Community Connector, and you can meet with the community-based learning staff to brainstorm ideas.
- Community Connector
- Meet with partners (site visits with the CBL Coordinator, on your own, visit at service fairs)
- Are you meeting real community needs?
- Have you asked the partner if that is what they need?
- Will all students participate with the same partner? Same type of partner? A few select partners? Any site?
- If you want, you can have a custom list for your course in the Community Connector.
Developing your Syllabus
Students reading your syllabus should be able to identify they are enrolled in a course with community-based learning and what that means for them. Be sure to:
- Clearly explain the link between the community involvement and the course objectives for your students.
- Provide opportunities for processing the learning that is taking place with the community involvement. Even if community involvement is an option, you can still infuse opportunities for students who did take that option to share their experiences in writing assignments, discussion topics, readings, presentations, and other activities in the course.
- The grade is for the learning, not the community involvement. Clarify that the students not only need to complete their community hours/project, but also the reflection component to demonstrate the learning. This is how you will assess the students.
- Provide links to the community-based learning website
- Will you require your students to participate, or have it as an option?
- How many hours will the students need to participate to meet the learning objectives?
In addition to writing about community-based learning in your syllabus, you should talk about it in class, ideally within the first week. Students need to know:
- How to find their community site (direct them to the community connector)
- How many hours they need to do/What the project will be
- What forms to turn in
- What the reflection component will be
- They should also receive some sort of orientation at the community site.
None of our students should be left unsupervised while doing their community assignment. Each site has a volunteer coordinator listed in the Community Connector. That person, or another from the organization will supervise the students while at the community location.
Reflection is the key way for your students to make connections between their community involvement and your course learning objectives. Reflection can take many forms such as journals, short papers, guided questions, presentations, videos, photo collages, and more. Other ideas can be found here.
You assess the student learning and evaluate their performance for community-based learning as you would with other assignments. You are not assigning credit for the number of hours they complete. Rather, you use their reflection work to determine the connections they made to the course learning objectives. You can evaluate their analytical, communication, and critical thinking skills from their reflection papers and presentations.
Keep in Mind
Listing your course in the community-based learning section helps boost enrollment, gives students a heads up that community involvement will be a part of the class, and helps students who are actively seeking community-related courses.
Community-Based Learning is strengthened by interaction between the partner and the faculty member.
Community-Based Learning Faculty Tool Kit
- Community-Based Learning 101
- Constructing Community-Based Learning Syllabi
- Sample Letter to Community Partners
- PCC Community-Based Learning Syllabus Collection
- Community-Based Learning Resources by Discipline
- Community-Based Learning in Distance Learning
- Promoting Community-Based Learning to Your Students
- Community-Based Learning and Sustainability
- Past Community-Based Learning Courses
Resources for the Advanced Practitioner
Join the PCC Community-Based Learning listserv!
If you are a PCC staff or faculty member and are on PCC's email system you may join the Community-Based Learning listserv. Here are the instructions:
- Log in to MyPCC, click on the "employee" tab.
- In the "Communicate" box on the right, click on "Subscribe to mail lists."
- Click on the list "service-learn".
Students and community members may also join the listserv but must e-mail the Community-Based Learning Program of their interest.