Teaching a community-engaged learning course
Students in community-engaged learning courses are more engaged in their learning, build stronger relationships with their professors, and develop complex critical thinking skills. The Centre for Community Partnerships supports University of Toronto faculty in the design and development of community-engaged learning courses. We offer consultations, resources, services, faculty development events and workshops to help you launch successful community-engaged learning courses using a service-learning pedagogical approach.
Defining community-engaged learning and academic service-learning.
Community-engaged learning courses integrate several key features, including community placements and reflection assignments, into academic for-credit courses. The Centre for Community Partnerships supports instructors teaching community-engaged learning courses that use a service-learning approach. Academic service-learning can be described as a “course-based, credit-bearing educational experience that allows students to (a) participate in an organized service activity that meets identified community needs and (b) reflect on the service activity in such a way as to gain further understanding of course content, a broader appreciation of the discipline, and an enhanced sense of civic responsibility.” (Bringle and Hatcher, 1995).
Academic service-learning focuses equally on the student and the community agency. Placement activities are designed by U of T faculty and staff, in collaboration with the community partner, to address a need identified by that agency while aligning closely with the stated learning outcomes of the academic course. Placements serve as an experiential text or primary source material from which students can draw new frames of reference, perspectives and knowledge.
In contrast, internships and practicum placements focus primarily on the student, for whom the priority is vocational learning and the development of skills for a specific profession. The activity or project is driven more by professional standards and accreditation than by the needs of the community agency or its clients. Volunteerism, at the other end of the continuum, is focused primarily on the agency and the needs of its clients rather than on the learning goals of the volunteer.
The diagram in the side column shows service-learning in context of the experiential education continuum.
Three organizations committed to service-learning and community.
The Canadian Alliance for Community Service-Learning (CASL) supports, educates and networks to ensure the effective growth of community service-learning in Canada. Their vision is students, educators and communities learning and working together to strengthen individuals and society.
Campus Compact is a national coalition of more than 1,100 college and university presidents who are committed to fulfilling the public purpose of higher education.
The International Association for Research on Service-learning and Community Engagement (IARSLCE) is an international non-profit organization devoted to promoting research and discussion about service-learning and community engagement.
The University of Toronto is offering several Academic Community-Engaged Learning courses for 2016/2017. Check here for course codes and more.
Request for Community Partners
If you would like the CCP to assist in finding community partners for your 2016-2017 courses, please complete the Request for Partnership Proposals – in the Documents box to your right.
- For Fall and Year courses, please submit the form by May 30, 2016.
- For Winter courses, please submit the form by September 30, 2016.
- Completed forms and queries to Jennifer Esmail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Community Partner Forms
Course instructors can send these forms to their community partners before students go on placement or when students go on placement, whichever works best. All forms are filed with the course instructor.
Letter to Placement Employers
This is for organizations that are not housed in the City of Toronto, a City Councillor’s office, or on-campus placement.
Before giving community partners this form, please customize the highlighted portions for your Faculty/Department.
Template Agreement and Student Placement Insurance Form
If the CCP finds the community partners for the course, these two forms (Template Agreement and Student Placement Insurance Form) are taken care of by CCP and no action is necessary by the course instructor.
If the instructor secures the placements for the course, please contact email@example.com for instructions.
Student Insurance Forms
Students are not covered by insurance until they have all forms signed and returned to the course instructor.
All students sign all the forms included in the CCP Community-Engaged Learning Student Handbook. To access the 2016-2017 Student Handbook, please contact Jennifer Esmail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is an additional insurance form for students placed with City of Toronto including agencies, boards and commissions, City Councillor’s Offices, Toronto Public Health and on-campus placements.
Please contact the following email to receive this additional insurance form: email@example.com