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Community Engagement

Community Engaged Teaching

Institutional Significance

Community-Based Transformational Learning courses are a signature of Community-Engaged Teaching at UNF. Community-Based Transformational Learning is a "high-impact practice" (HIP) that is effective with students because it allows them to work closely with faculty, partners and peers on issues that matter and it provides students opportunities to engage with diverse ideas and populations. In reflection assignments, it permits students to see how what they are learning works in different settings; it often inspires students to explore their values and beliefs, helping them to better understand themselves in relation to others and the larger world (AAC&U, 2016; Kuh 2008).

In a national study by Brownell and Swaner (2010), data showed community-based learning creates greater and different kinds of interaction with faculty which helps students develop self-efficacy, a sense of social responsibility, moral reasoning, reduced stereotypes, and increased tolerance. Furthermore, they demonstrated this pedagogy helped retain students and increases persistence rates. Finally, their evidence suggested positive outcomes including higher grades, deeper levels of academic engagement, and increases in critical thinking, when students participated in community-based learning.


Consider that the current Strategic Plan's Goal I is: "UNF will attract, retain, and graduate academically talented students who will succeed in contributing to their communities."

Community-Based Transformational Learning courses at UNF provide students with intentionally designed, coordinated and executed learning experiences in community-based settings that enhance their 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. Community engagement requires students to collaborate with a community partner. At its best, it becomes a reciprocal relationship, where students work with community stakeholders in public problem-solving.

Providing such a rich opportunity for learning and impact requires a great deal of time on the part of the UNF faculty member and community partners to develop that trust. When most effective, the community partner serves as a mentor, helping students become ever more intentional about the experience. The faculty member creates explicit learning objectives, provides guidance to prepare students, and guides them in reflection, as the pedagogy to process and learn from the experience. Students provide service, gain context, apply what they learn in their coursework, and develop habits that UNF hopes will help define their roles as citizens.

Research by Richard et al. (2017) shows First-time in College (FTIC) students who take Community-Based Transformational Learning courses are 13% more likely to be retained into the third year.

For more information about Community-Based Transformational Learning, please visit the Center for Community-Based Learning's website.