Faculty FAQs

What is Community-Engaged Learning?

Community-Engaged Learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community engagement with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities.

What is “reflection?”

Reflection is critical thinking. Structured reflection activities provide a means through which the relationship between community engagement and course content can be studied and interpreted. In addition, reflection can encourage students to appreciate their future roles as socially responsible and civically engaged professionals. Reflection activities range from journal writing and small group discussion with the instructor to preparing class and community presentations. CCE staff can help faculty develop reflection activities for students.

What is the difference between community-engaged learning and community engagement?

Community-Engaged Learning, like community engagement, seeks to make a valuable contribution to the community. Unlike community engagement, however, Community-Engaged Learning is designed to promote the curricular goals of a specified course through the application of classroom learning in community engagement settings. Community community engagement that is not integrated into the curriculum is not Community-Engaged Learning; it is simply community engagement.
We also highly recomend you have your students sign an MOU similar to that found in the link above, to help them take this commitment seriously.

How do stakeholders benefit from Community-Engaged Learning?

Students acquire enhanced learning through a guided community engagement project that allows them to apply their knowledge and skills to real world situations. Community partners gain from the developing expertise of USU students who provide them with organizational, social, and technical community engagement. Faculty teaching is enriched through the introduction of experiential learning components within course curricula.

Does USU offer formal recognition for student involvement in Community-Engaged Learning?

Yes. Students can apply to the Community-Engaged Scholars program. USU Community Engaged Scholars must complete 300 hours of community-engagement, 3 courses to the community during their USU career, take 9 credit hours of Community Engaged Learning course work and complete a Community Action Project (CAP). Successful completion of the program is recognized on the student’s graduation transcript. At graduation, students wear a Community Engaged Learning Scholars stole and they are recognized in the commencement program.

How is Community-Engaged Learning incorporated into the curriculum?

Community-Engaged Learning is incorporated into the curriculum in three ways:

  • Community Engagment – "...a teaching and learning approach that integrates community engagement with academic study to enrich learning, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities." In this format, a service project is assigned by the instructor as a required component of a course in the same way that a research paper might be.
  • Democratic Engagement – "involves students in the civic life of our communities and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values and motivation to make a meaningful difference through both political and non-political processes."
  • Community Research – "Community Research is a partnership of students, faculty and community members who collaboratively engage in research with the purpose of solving a pressing community problem or effecting social change."

What criteria does CCE use for evaluating the quality of Community-Engaged Learning pedagogy?

The Community Engaged Faculty Advisory Board has developed course criteria for all Community Engaged Learning courses. The CCE Community Engaged Learning Coordinator and members of Faculty Advisory Board are always available to assist faculty in meeting the guidelines.

Community Engaged Learning courses require:

  • the community engagement project to advance course objectives, address real, identified community needs, and involve meaningful student interaction with the community partner;
  • the project to assist in developing students’ awareness.
  • a syllabus that explains the scope and objectives of the community project and how student learning will be evaluated;
  • the course to provide structured opportunities for students to analyze the community engagement experience, connect it to the subject matter of the course, and consider the project in the broader context of civic engagement and social responsibility;
  • that the instructor meet with the community partner in the planning stages of the course, when appropriate, to establish common goals, timelines, project assessment, and closure activities.

What do I have to do in order to offer a Community-Engaged Learning course?

Community-Engaged Learning designated courses must be approved by the Community-Engaged Learning Faculty Advisory Committee. The best way to begin is by contacting Amanda Bevington-Drungil in the Center for Community Engagement before you develop your Community-Engaged Learning course.

How does USU’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) process affect Community-Engaged work?

Community-Engaged Learning courses should be treated as any other course in regard to IRB approval. If a faculty member intends to engage in a “systematic investigation” of the people served or the students involved in the project, and to share the results of that investigation with others, then IRB approval must be sought. Faculty should also consider completing an Letter of Intent for Classroom Research if students will be completing research in the course of their community engagement activity. We strongly recommend faculty to be proactive in gaining any necessary approvals, and suggest you visit the USU IRB website for further guidance.

What responsibilities do community partners undertake when accepting Community-Engaged Learning students?

The first responsibility of community partners is to provide a community engagement opportunity that complements student academic learning. The second responsibility is to provide adequate and consistent onsite assistance to Community Engaged Learning students and project feedback to faculty.

What role does the Community-Engaged Program staff play in offering academic Community Engaged Learning?

Staff of the Community Engaged Learning Program ensure that courses are designated as Community Engaged Learning (SL) in Banner. They can assist faculty in selecting projects that are appropriate for their courses and can provide logistical support to faculty and students engaged in community engagement. S/he maintains contact with community partners through the Tiered Partnership program, and helps both faculty and community partners to troubleshoot issues that might arise during the course of the project.

Does CCE offer professional development opportunities for faculty?

CCE offers several programs to promote faculty development:

  • a two-day Engaged Faculty Institute, sponsored by the University of Utah’s Bennion Center, to assist faculty in utilizing Community Engaged Learning pedagogy
  • Faculty awards for exemplary contributions to Community Engaged Learning
  • Development grants to assist faculty in establishing quality Community Engaged Learning projects
  • Speed Networking event that brings together faculty and community partners

In addition to sponsoring Community-Engaged Learning, what else does CCE do?

There are multiple opportunities for USU students to engage in community engagement through CCE. The center houses 6 community engagment programs, including the Val Christensen Service Center, Education Outreach (Work Study & America Reads), Utah Conservation Corps, Aggie Blue Bikes, Student Sustainability Office and Community EngagedLearning. Whether engaged in community-engaged work or academic Community-Engaged Learning, CCE gives USU students the opportunity to have a continuing, significant, and positive impact on Logan and the larger Cache Valley community.