What Community-Based Transformational Learning (CBTL) looks like can vary greatly depending on whether or not it's curricular or co-curricular, the level of engagement, the community partner and the skill level of the students. However, all CBTL experiences share several common elements including clearly articulated learning outcomes, community relationships, active learning strategies and exercises and reflection-based assignments. Additionally, curricular CBTL is most often presented within a syllabus. These elements and their common characteristics are described more fully in the links below.
UNF's mission and values provide the guiding framework for determining the intended learning outcomes of Community-Based Transformational Learning (CBTL) courses, projects and activities. CBTL builds on UNF's public responsibilities and "evolves directly from the university's commitments to authentic learning, the cultivation of citizenship and stewardship of place" (University of North Florida, Strategic Plan 2009-2014, 13). Therefore, while students are transformed in many and complex ways through their higher education experiences, this initiative focuses on four transformational domains: intercultural competence, ethical character, effective citizenship and integrated connections.
Community-based activities are meant to enhance course or project content. The experience should allow faculty or staff to achieve their desired learning outcomes as well as touch upon one of the four designated learning outcomes. For more information about the learning outcomes please see the definition and framing language for each below. Additional information and rubrics can also be found here.
A CBTL project relies heavily on working with a community organization. Building strong community relationships is an important component of CBTL, not only because it's the CB in CBTL, but because the community organization(s) will play a large role in the learning experiences of the student(s). As these projects and relationships grow, partnerships begin to develop between the university and community. A true partnership is one where each partner plays a role in creating the partnership's goals, devising the plan, contributing to the work and benefiting from it.
Faculty and staff often need to begin with the end in mind when planning for their CBTL course, project or activity. Before a community organization is approached or brought into the planning process, the lead faculty or staff person should have a general idea of how a community-based component will fit within their course, project or activity. It's important in a CBTL course or project that the community-based component is relevant and helpful to the rest of the curriculum. Once a faculty or staff member has determined that they would like to try CBTL, they should determine what community organization(s) might fit well with their course, project or activity. Determining the organization can be done through the Center for Community-Based Learning (CCBL) or personal connections. Often times a community organization may approach the faculty or staff member directly, in that case it's important to remember who initiated the relationship and why. From here, an initial meeting should be scheduled between the faculty/staff and a representative from the community organization (staff from the CCBL are available to attend these meetings as well). Below are a few tips to assist in establishing relationships once the faculty or staff member has made connection with an organization.
In most cases, these steps should be completed with both the faculty/staff and community organization representative present. Both sides should listen and be flexible in discussing the initial plan. After all, the relationship should be rewarding for all parties involved. Once the project is underway it's natural for the relationship to change. Several factors can affect the relationship, such as: a change in needs, turnover in personnel, misunderstood expectations or a project is nearing completion. Building to a true partnership will require regular communication, negotiation and assessment.
For assistance in working with a community organization, please contact the Center for Community-Based Learning.
Principles of Good Community-Campus PartnershipsAdopted by the CCPH board of directors, October 2006
Communicating to students the importance of and reason for using Community-Based Learning pedagogies (see UNF’s CBTL Gateways), is a critical step in developing and delivering Community-Based Transformational Learning (CBTL) courses. Naturally, CBTL courses vary based on the pedagogy used and the discipline engaged. What all high quality CBTL courses have in common, however, is a structure that addresses three components listed below. How a faculty member incorporates these components into the syllabus may be organic or in a special section. The three components are:
ACTIVITY: A section of the syllabus (e.g. Course description, Teaching Methods) should include a description of and purpose for the community-based activities. Information such as who the community partner is and how students will engage with the community should be explicit. There should be information explaining the student’s and community partner’s role in and intended benefits from the activity. Information should also be provided regarding any alternative activities available for students with accommodation requests. The syllabus should include an ADA statement that reminds students to submit requests for reasonable accommodation. A recommended ADA statement from The UNF Disability Resource Center is available here.
ALIGNMENT: A section of the syllabus (e.g. Course Outcomes/Objectives) should indicate to students that the community-based activity is connected with at least one of the course outcomes which aligns with one of the University-wide CBTL outcomes. Often, a faculty member finds it useful to include the definition of Community-Based Transformational Learning in this section.
ASSIGNMENT: A section of the syllabus (e.g. Assignments) should include a description of a reflection assignment that will help students connect the community-based experience(s) to course content. Students should be informed of what medium will be used to capture the reflection and how that artifact may be used in university-wide assessment. A statement regarding the use of student work in university-wide assessment should be included in the syllabus.
All CBTL courses should include a statement regarding the use of their work for university-wide assessment.The UNF Center for Community-Based Learning suggests that the following statement be included in all CBTL course syllabi:
“The University of North Florida is committed to providing quality education and to assuring that students gain the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful after they graduate. Assessment of student learning provides information needed to make improvements in UNF programs, course content, and teaching. During this course your instructor will collect and submit samples of your work to determine program effectiveness.
You should know that:
Examples of CBTL course syllabi are coming soon...
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