Working with CBL Students

Working with PCC Community-Based Learning students may be different than working with your traditional volunteers. Community-Based Learning students:

  • Will want to participate in an interactive service experience
  • Will need an orientation to the community agency or school
  • May or may not have previous volunteer or service experience
  • Will have a minimum number of service hours to complete
  • Appreciate flexibility, but need the expectations of the agency or school to be clearly stated at the beginning of their service experience
  • Will look for ways to apply classroom theories to their observations in the community and vice versa
  • Will be eager to learn the goals and objectives of the agency or school in addition to learning new tasks that serve a community need
  • Are not graded on their work in the community, but on their ability to connect their service experience to course objectives through written assignments or class presentations

Orienting Students to Your Organization

Students completing Community-Based Learning will need an orientation to your site just like other volunteers.  The orientation should:

  • Familiarize the students with the mission of the organization
  • Introduce them to the space and people
  • Cover safety issues related to the respective position and responsibilities
  • Establish guidelines for tasks
  • Communicate expectations for conduct

This orientation is the students’ first substantive contact with your organization and will set the tone for the Community-Based Learning experience.

If you are planning on conducting a group orientation for volunteers, keep in mind that student schedules may prevent them from attending an orientation outside of the agreed upon time for them to volunteer.

Remember Community-Based Learning students are there to learn and serve, so don’t hesitate to talk with them about the issues facing your organization.  They will benefit from learning about social structures and policies that make your work important to the populations you serve.

Things to keep in mind

Orientation and training
  • It is structured and well-organized?
  • Is it comprehensive?
  • Are written materials provided?
  • Will the student feel welcome and appreciated?
  • Will the student understand the agency’s mission and how their community-based learning assignment will contribute to that mission?
  • Will the student feel comfortable and be encouraged to talk/share issues and problems with the agency supervisor?
  • Will other staff understand the student’s role?
  • Will staff be friendly and help the student feel comfortable?
  • Does the supervisor view him/herself as a partner in education?
Overall Experience
  • Will the student be challenged to learn and grow from the experience?
  • Will the experience strengthen the student’s commitment to community engagement?
  • Will the student gain a better understanding of the relationship between service and citizenship?