Community Engagement Courses
How are Community Engagement Courses facilitated?
The Center for Community Engagement supports faculty by preparing modules and concepts that tailor to their course and learning objectives. The center's assistant director and program manager meet with faculty prior to the semester to discuss potential community partners and service opportunities for the course. In addition, initial class visits, reflection sessions, and additional supplemental materials are scheduled during the meeting(s).
The Center also uses the CUE (Community University Engagement), a web-based platform used to facilitate community engagement practices. The CUE provides students the option to browse through non-profit agencies and select volunteer opportunities that fit their needs and interests. During the semester, students using the system will learn how to navigate the platform, network with agencies, capture impacts, register for service opportunities, and connect with the department. The system also supports the collection of service hours and reflection notes from students which are provided as progress reports to faculty throughout the semester.
In connection with the program manager, the CCE also has two student leaders who support coordinating communication between students and agencies, as well as providing peer support throughout the semester. The students serve as liaisons to the department, agencies, faculty, and students.
During the semester students participate in an in-class initial training held by the CCE and an additional training session where they connect with the agency they serve throughout the semester. Each program and activity may differ in focus, task, as well as requirements. Students select one of the participating agencies selected by CCE staff and their professor, students also have the option to select their own agency but it must be approved by the professor.
Lastly, the CCE offers end-of-semester in-class reflection sessions for student participants and a final report of engagement hours to the faculty member.
Community Engagement is significantly different from other forms of experimental education in that it:
1. Offers a balance between service and learning objectives;
2. Places an emphasis on reciprocal learning;
3. Increases an understanding of the content in which clinical and/or service work occurs;
4. Focuses on the development of civic skills;
5. Addresses community-identified concerns; and
6. Involves community in the Service Learning design and implementation.
- A pedagogical tool that links to academic content and standards and is articulated in the syllabus
- Involves young people in helping to determine and meet real, defined community needs
- It is reciprocal, benefiting both the community and the service providers by combining a service experience with a learning experience.
- May be direct or indirect service
- Incorporates reflection activities and assignments
- Identify a community partner
- Brainstorm community engagement activities
- Partner on a community‐focused event
- Tell us how you are already working with the community
- Identify ways to engage students with the community (i.e., community engaged courses)
- Enrich your next community-based research project
- Identify other faculty members to work with on community‐based research and projects
- Share your thoughts and ideas on how we can improve community engagement at UTEP
There are several ways in which students can engage in the community that involves both services to the agency as well as learning for the students. The students may participate through various models faculty can choose to use for their course(s). Below are three models that are used:
Option within a course
The service is embedded into courses as an option for students to participate in a community-based activity. Students may engage in short service opportunities (10-20 hours) such as events or one-day visits. Faculty can choose to work with one or multiple community organizations. The community-based activity substitutes a portion of the normal coursework. For example, a traditional research paper or group project can be replaced with an experiential research paper or personal journal that documents learning from the service experience.
Required within a course (minimum of 20 hours):
Generally, all students are involved in a service experience as an integrated aspect of the course. This expectation must be clearly stated on the syllabus, with a clear rationale provided to students as to why the service component is required. Faculty can choose to work with one or multiple community organizations. If all students are involved in service, it is easier to design coursework (i.e., class discussions, writing assignments, exam questions) that integrates the service experience with course objectives. Class sessions can involve agency personnel and site visits. By working with community members, students can enhance their organizational, teamwork, interpersonal skills, and others. They also can gain important experience and knowledge by working with diverse members of the community.
Community-based projects are incorporated within courses in which students typically work in teams and engage with the community by applying classroom learning objectives through service. Students work with community members to identify a particular need or problem and propose solutions to that problem, or a professor can have a selected project and use the course and students collectively work together to address the project's needs.
- (This model may offer only limited contact with community partners and presumes that students have some specialized knowledge upon which to draw to develop plans for solving the problem.)
Community-Based Action Research:
This approach involves working closely with students to teach research methodologies that advocate for community residents and address issues of concern to the community. The results of the research are communicated to the agency so that they can be used to address community needs. Action research and participatory action research take a significant amount of time to build relationships of trust in the community and identify common research agendas; however, community research projects can support the ongoing research of faculty. Extending this type of research beyond the confines of a semester may be best for all involved.
If a faculty member is interested in participating or incorporating community engagement practices in their class, the CCE is available for support and guidance. We are happy to be a resource during the process.
Steps for a Successful Experience!
Understanding the model of service:
- Explain the definition, theoretical basis and key components of community engagement courses
- Describe how community engagment courses differs from other forms of experiential learning
- Describe the impact of community engagement
- Meaningful Service
- Curriculum Connections
- Student Leadership
- Demonstrate and Celebrate
Forming a community partnership:
- Identify your partners and know your community
- Foster leadership and skill development among partners
- Identify resources
- Form a service-learning partnership planning committee
- Establish an agenda with special focus on the development of goals, objectives, and strategies
- Establish methods of communication
- Develop a risk management plan
Click below to download the following Academic Based Community Engagement Forms:
- Student Timesheet--
- Multiple Course Information--
- Community Engagement Sign up--
- Community Engagement Student Contract--
- Release and Indemnification Agreement--
Tips and Guidelines:
- Volunteering Tips --
- Steps to getting started--
- Resume Guide--
- Service Learning Timeline--
- Trolley Transportation--
Community Engagement Videos:
What is Community Engagement?
Community Engagement is a teaching method for students to gain academic content while also serving the community.
Purpose of Community Engagement Courses?
Community Engagement Courses serves the student, community, and the faculty member; it allows us to expand our university and to work alongside our community.
How to Facilitate a Community Engagement Consultant Model
Community Engagement consultant model is used in order to provide students an opportunity to apply their skills that they are building in statistical modeling and also work in service and with community organizations so that their expertise can have impact.
Requirements for Classes
If a faculty member is interested in participating or incorporating Community Engagement in their class, we are here to help make that happen.
Ethical Considerations of Community Engagement Courses
Working in a Community Engagement Course capacity is confidentiality and to protect the integrity of confidentiality of that agency.
Co-Teaching with Community Partners
Community Engagement Courses is not volunteerism, it has an academic component to it.
Building Community Partnerships--What it Takes
Partnerships is about starting where people are, finding ways of coming together to identify mutual interests not always needs, but mutual interest and it's a long-term relationship.
What is True Reciprocity?
Being engaged in Community Engagement Courses and learning about the history of a community, the culture, being active, developing relationships with people in the community is really at the heart of our profession.
Preparing students for Community Engagement Courses
In being able to help the students connect what we teach in the classroom, what we help them to learn, they can actually see in the community through real-life experiences.
Effective Community Engagement Reflection
Reflection is really important, you don't separate your reflection from your observation, they go hand in hand.
Identifying Appropriate Community Partners
First step is finding a community organization whose focus area directly relates to the course content in the particular course that you want to offer Community Engagement Courses in.
Community Engagement Courses with Freshmen
Like most experiential learning, the student gains more by reflecting upon their experiences than simply by going through them.