Course Attribute for Community Based Learning
This is a summary of the policy on the Course Attribute for Community-Based Learning. Click here to view the official policy in its entirety in the UW-Madison Policy Library.
A. Definition of Community-based Learning
A credit-bearing educational experience that integrates meaningful community engagement with guided reflection to enhance students’ understanding of course content as well as their sense of civic responsibility while strengthening communities.
1. Service or other engagement activity is integrated with course content and supports its academic focus, with a minimum 25 hours of community contact if direct service, or a deliverable (product or project outcome) to the partner if project‐based community engagement, by each student in the course.
2. Students are involved in engagement of value to the community, as designed in collaboration with the community itself. Evidence of contact and agreement from community partner/s is required in the course proposal.
3. Students receive appropriate preparation and training before entering communities, with particular focus on vulnerable populations.
4. Structured opportunities for guided reflection (processing, debriefing of experience) such as writing assignments, discussions, presentations, or journals are required during the course. Guided reflection activities:
• Examine critical issues related to their community-based learning project
• Connect the community-engaged experience to the coursework
• Enhance the development of civic and ethical skills and values
• Help students find personal relevance in the work
5. Clear explanations of learning outcomes and their assessment are included in syllabus. These must address both the academic and community engagement outcomes of the course
C. Recommended Best Practices
1. Include assessment criteria for student learning as well as assessment of community impact.
2. Make year-long or multi-year commitments to partnerships, folding in new students either each semester or, if possible, students make a year-long commitment to the same partner.
3. Provide a course syllabus to community partners in advance of the semester, and invite partners to make class presentations when possible.
4. Evidence of community-based learning agreements or memoranda of understanding outlining expectations agreed upon by the student, instructor, and community partner.
5. Agree on method of ongoing communication that works best for all partners.
6. Faculty, staff, students and partners review course content to assure that planned activities are safe for students and community members with special attention to unintended harms and cultural sensitivities.
D. How the course attribute works
This attribute is assigned at the class section level on a term-by-term basis only. It is never an attribute of a course at the catalog level.