Student Resources

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Community-Based Learning?

Community-Based Learning (CBL) is a teaching method that combines course learning objectives, participation in community affairs, and reflection. Faculty members choose to teach with community-based learning assignments that meet the learning objectives of the course through active participation in the community.

What will I be doing in a Community-Based Learning Course?

Community-Based Learning looks different depending on what course you are in. Generally, faculty have community-based learning as an option to a more traditional assignment like a term paper. Your faculty member will tell you the number of hours you need to fulfill as well as what sort of reflection (journal, short papers, a presentation) you will do to connect your community participation to the course learning objectives.

What are the benefits of taking a course with Community-Based Learning?

  • Opportunities to get out of the classroom and into the community for “real-life” experiences that in turn supports and contributes to your academic learning
  • Become an active citizen! Be a part of the political process and part of the problem solving solutions that impact the community
  • Gain political, social and professional resources
  • Broaden your perspectives and enhance your critical thinking skills
  • Improve your interpersonal and human relations skills
  • Forge professional networks

How do I know which courses are Community-Based Learning courses?

Most faculty members who have Community-Based Learning in their courses will have a notation in the Class Schedule. You can do a search for "CBL" in the Class Schedule to see a listing of current Community-Based Learning courses at PCC. Some courses have Community-Based Learning integrated into the curriculum, others include it as an option. Visit our Courses page for more information.

Where can I complete my community-based learning assignment?

There are many opportunities to become involved in the community in Portland. The kind of assignment you do will depends on the course, your professor's preferences, your own interest, and the availability of a particular placement. Check out the Volunteer Opportunities Newsletter for current announcements or the Community Connector for a list of community agencies who partner with CBL. If you wish to find an alternative site, please check with your instructor.

My instructor says I need to turn in the Community-Based Learning Agreement, where can I find the forms?

All of our forms can be found online on the Forms page. Be sure to check with your instructor for deadlines and any additional forms you may need for class.

Can I continue my community involvement after the term is over?

Most of our community partners would love to have you continue your participation after the term is over. Check with your site supervisor to find out how. You may also be able to earn Cooperative Education Credit for your community hours. To learn more about that, contact the Cooperative Education Office.

Resources for your Community-Based Learning project/assignment

Guide to Finding a Volunteer Site Tips for Coordinating a Group Volunteer Project Report your Community Engagement Hours
Tips for Communicating with a Community Partner Student Group Guide for Reflection  

Volunteer Opportunties

In addition to the partnerships PCC has developed, there are other sites in the community looking for volunteers. Here are some web sites that list volunteer opportunities in the Portland Community.

Hands on Greater Portland Volunteer Opportunities Newsletter (Subscribe)

Community Engagement Award

The Community-Based Learning Program at Portland Community College recognizes students for their community-based learning efforts in their courses and communities. In addition to gaining valuable academic and work skills, students who receive the Community Engagement Award receive a signed certificate, college recognition, and the benefit of including the award on scholarship applications and resumes. Community Engagement Award Information, Eligibility, and Application.

Foundation Scholarships for Community-Based Learning

The PCC Foundation awards many scholarships that recognize the service work of students. Below are a few specific to Community-Based Learning. Visit PCC Scholarships for more information.

Service-to-Community Scholarships

The PCC Foundation offers Service-to-Community Scholarships to students who commit to volunteering in their communities. This program allows students who often have to work to put themselves through school the opportunity to volunteer approximately 35 hours per term in exchange for a $2400 scholarship ($800 per term).

Carmen Martinez Memorial Science/Service-Learning Scholarship

The PCC Foundation offers this scholarship as money becomes available. See their web site for scholarship amount and award criteria.