About

  • How does KSU define Community-Engaged Teaching?

    "Community-Engaged Teaching" at KSU denotes curricular and co-curricular instruction that is intentionally designed to meet learning goals while simultaneously fostering reciprocal relationships with a community. In addition, community-engaged teaching is assessable and requires structured reflection by learners. Community-engaged teaching encompasses pedagogical practices such as community-based learning, service-learning, experiential learning, and civic engagement.

    It should be noted that community-engaged teaching and learning is distinguished from volunteerism and community service by its intentional linkage to articulated learning goals of a course or program. Many describe the spirit in which community-engaged learning should be enacted as one of solidarity with the community rather than charity for a community.

    There are a number of models, some of which may be more conducive to specific disciplines, courses, or students’ levels of development or subject-matter expertise. In addition, exemplars of some these different models are available on the highlights page.

  • How do we talk about Community-Engaged Teaching?

    Mere definition cannot capture the essence of community-engaged teaching and its many forms. Thus, understanding CET requires a familiarity with the vocabulary used when referring to this type of pedagogy and the various models for enacting it. Most faculty are acquainted with the term service-learning in reference to community-engaged teaching; however, other terminology existst, and many educators are moving away from service-learning for a variety of reasons. Joe Bandy, Assistant Director for the Center for Teaching at Vanderbilt University offers a nice foundational piece on the nomenclature of community-engaged pedagogy.

    To read Joe Bandy's essay on nomenclature, please click here.

  • What are the characteristics and language of Community-Engaged Teaching?

    Definitions of these characteristics and terms reflect and amalgamation of information gleaned from the literature and from those practicing of community-engaged pedagogy in a variety of academic disciplines.

    Partnership: Partnership or partners refers to an essential component of community-engaged teaching in that ideally projects, courses, and activities should be designed in collaboration with a community organization or agency.

    Reciprocity: Reciprocity is a key characteristic of community-engaged teaching, one that differentiates community-engaged pedagogy from community service or volunteerism. Reciprocity refers to the idea that community-engaged experiences provide an equal benefit to students and to the community.

    Assessable: Community-engaged teaching, like other good teaching practice, should build in means for assessing student learning and community impact.

    Reflection: Opportunities for students to reflect, whether formally or informally, about their experiences is a crucial element of community-engaged teaching Reflection allows for transformational learning to occur and provides faculty with rich data for assessing students’ learning.

    Credit for academic coursework not service: The literature on community-engaged teaching stresses that grades should not be based on whether or not students complete a certain number of hours volunteering or spend a certain amount of time with an organization. Rather, credit should be based on student performance on assignments that are linked to course learning goals.

    Linked to course learning goals: Community-engaged learning activities should have a direct connection to the learning goals of a course or activity. In other words, simply having students complete community service or volunteer hours without linking those experiences to specific learning outcomes, and ideally graded assignments, does not constitute community-engaged pedagogy.

    Spirit of solidarity not charity: This concept is part of the conversation of community-engaged teaching and learning. Approaching community-engaged learning experiences in a spirit of solidarity rather than charity means helping students to see that that community-engagement involves working with rather than doing for the community. Community-engaged teaching seeks to promote this concept so that students began to see themselves as integral members of their communities capable of and responsible for effecting change for the common good.

    Meets an identified community need: In conjunction with notion that community-engaged learning experiences should be designed in partnership with the community, learning activities or projects should be constructed around a community need. Adhering to this principle when formulating instructional strategies helps to ensure reciprocity and meaningful impact for the community.

    Engages the university in real-world issues: Community-engaged learning exposes students to relevant and current societal issues. This quality of community-engaged teaching also spurs learning experiences that have an advocacy or activist slant, forms of community-engagement with which students sometimes have little familiarity.

Learning Models

"Community-Engaged Teaching" at KSU denotes curricular and co-curricular instruction that is intentionally designed to meet learning goals while simultaneously fostering reciprocal relationships with a community. In addition, community-engaged teaching is assessable and requires structured reflection by learners. Community-engaged teaching encompasses pedagogical practices such as community-based learning, service-learning, experiential learning, and civic engagement.

It should be noted that community-engaged teaching and learning is distinguished from volunteerism and community service by its intentional linkage to articulated learning goals of a course or program. Many describe the spirit in which community-engaged learning should be enacted as one of solidarity with the community rather than charity for a community.

There are a number of models, some of which may be more conducive to specific disciplines, courses, or students’ levels of development or subject-matter expertise. The models identified here are descriptive in no way exhaust the breadth or variation of community-engaged teaching designs in higher education.

Placement Model
This model is often connected to community-engaged teaching denoted as service-learning. Faculty work with community partners to set up experiences for students in which they gain skills and knowledge related to course goals while simultaneously providing needed services for the partner. In this model, faculty and partners negotiate the nature and scope activities that will be a part of the experience along with the length or number of hours of student participation.

Educational or Program Model
Students utilize classroom learning to create and facilitate educational or programmatic activities with community partners based on the partner’s need(s) and the content of the course. Faculty and/or students identify partners and work in collaboration with them in selecting activities and topics.

Product Model
Students work alone or in groups to create a tangible product (brochures, pamphlets, grant proposal, video/podcast, public service announcement, etc) with community partners.

Project Model
Students work in groups to collaborate with community members in designing and implementing a project. These projects might involve holding fundraisers for nonprofit groups, hosting a book drive, organizing river or trail clean-up, facilitating a “fun day” for terminally ill children in the hospital, coordinating awareness campaigns for a particular cause or organization. Often times, students work in project groups to coordinate all aspects of an event or program and gain academic and life skills relevant to multiple disciplines and careers through the process.

Advocacy Model
Students work with a community partner toward influencing policy decisions within political, economic, and social systems and institutions while acquiring knowledge and skills aligned with course learning objectives.

Activism Model
Students learn and practice activists’ tactics for a particular cause in an attempt to influence political or societal change. Strategies may include writing letters to the media or influential leaders, political campaigning, boycotts, rallies, blogging and marches, strikes, or guerrilla tactics.

Adapted from the Office of Civic Engagement, University of Minnesota, Duluth, 2012. 

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