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Center for Community-Based Learning

Community-Based Transformational Learning

Key Working Definitions


The phrase “community-based” refers to forms of university activity in community settings beyond the campus that may be local, regional, or global and is characterized by an exchange between the community and university of resources in the context of partnership and reciprocity.

Transformational Learning

The phrase “transformational learning,” sometimes also referred to as “deep learning,” refers to outcomes related to “high impact educational practices.”  Deep learning refers to learning “that takes root in our apparatus of understanding, in the embedded meanings that define us and that we use to define our world.” (Tagg, J. 2003. The learning paradigm college. Bolton, MA: Anker.)  Examples of deep learning include reflective, integrative and higher order learning.  Common “high impact” educational practices include:

  • first-year seminars and experiences;
  • common intellectual experiences (e.g.,  general education programs that include advance integrative studies);
  • participation in learning communities;
  • collaborative assignments and projects;
  • undergraduate research;
  • diversity and global learning;
  • service learning;
  • internships and capstone courses and projects.

(Kuh, G. (2008). High-Impact Educational Practices. Washington, D.C.: AAC&U)

Community-Based Transformational Learning

Community-based transformational learning refers to intentionally designed, coordinated and executed learning experiences in community-based settings that enhance participants’ academic learning, contribute to their personal growth and increase their civic engagement while concurrently benefiting the community or communities in which these activities are embedded. 

At UNF, our CBTL activities take place through 5 major categories of community-based learning:

To help faculty and staff decide which type of community-based learning experience is best for their students, we've labeled the categories as introductory, intermediate, or advanced based on certain dimensions like level of student readiness, amount of preparation, type and duration of the engagement, and reflection strategies.  More information about these categories and dimensions can be accessed by UNF employees through SharePoint.