community-based learning

Two boys and a man hiking up a mountain 1890sExamples and Resources for High-Impact Practice: Community-Based Learning

Field-based “experiential learning” within a community is designed as an intentional instructional strategy—and is often a required part of a course. The idea is to give students direct experience with issues they are studying in the curriculum and infusing the coursework with a high impact setting to address the students’ attitudes and values about civics. A well conceived assignment of this sort exposes students to ongoing efforts to analyze and solve complex problems in a real community while using the texts and models assigned in the course. Field trips include strong elements of studying before the experience, applying the new information in a new setting, and (after the trip) reflecting on the experience in depth. Community-based learning such as field trips however are different in design from service learning or volunteerism.

Community-based learning, as defined here, does not necessarily involve any negotiation with individuals at the field site to assure that the students provide a service that ultimately is to that community’s and the University’s mutual benefit. At the University of Maryland’s Office of Community Service Learning, the difference is described in this way:  “Community service consists of providing service to individuals or communities in need.   Service-learning links community service with structured reflection to promote academic learning.   Service-learning can take place in co-curricular service projects or within formal courses.”  See more on this distinction at High Impact Practice of Service Learning. Another high impact practice to explore in this similar genre is Diversity/Global Learning.

Click on the images below to see more information on this high impact practice and to find resources that best fit your course design.

Large Classroom Settings Seminar Settings Small Group Settings
Greek Theatre Seminar setting Small study group
General Resources on Community-Based Learning

Kentucky Campus Compact: a coalition of 24 Kentucky higher education institutions with the mission “to promote the civic purpose of higher education.”

Create a virtual field trip for your students using GIS as a learning platform,” ESRI, GIS for Higher Education, accessed 1 June 2011.

Bringle, R., Games, R., and Malloy, E., eds. (1999). Colleges and Universities as Citizens. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Strand, K., Marullo, S., Cutforth, N., et al. (2003). Community-Based Research and Higher Education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Torres, J., and Schaffer, J. (2000). Benchmarks for Campus/Community Partnerships. Providence, RI: Campus Compact.

Willis, J., Peresie, J., et al. (2003). The student’s role in community-based research. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 9(3), 5-15.

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