We aim for reciprocity that results in beneficial experiences for both our CBLR classes and our community. Community based learning and research projects, and often syllabi, are designed jointly by faculty and community partners.

Principles For Integrating Community Based Learning and Research Into Courses

  • Academic credit is for learning, not for community service.
  • Do not compromise academic rigor. CBLR components are designed to enhance academic learning, with input from community partners.
  • CBLR components need to be integrated into the syllabus, according with the learning objectives for the course.
  • Establish criteria for the selection of community project placements.
  • Determine how CBLR components are to be graded, and establish this with clarity in the syllabus. What percentage of the total grade is to be given to the community project? Will the community project be graded by reports from community partner?  Student’s journal? Other?
  • Use guided reflections to help students integrate their academic and civic learning.
  • Rethink the faculty’s instructional role in a way that recognizes the role of students and the community as knowledge creators.
  • Coordinate with the community partner to establish clear expectations from both sides.

Learn more about how to integrate CBLR into your course here!

Types of Community Based Learning & Research Components

Option Within a Course
Students have an option to become involved in a community based learning and research project.  A portion of normal coursework is replaced with a community based learning and research component offering the option to replace lab work with face-to-face projects with schools or community organizations.

Required Within a Course
All students are involved in community projects as an integrated aspect of the course.

Class Community Projects
The entire class is involved in a one-time community project.  An example of this could be a visit to a museum in connection with an Art class, where students help with a project with which the museum needs assistance.

Independent Credit Option
Students negotiate with instructor to define parameters of community project component and ways to document learning derived from community projects, in connection to the academic subject.

Disciplinary Capstone Projects
Community based learning builds upon students’ cumulative knowledge in a discipline and demonstrates integration of knowledge with real-life issues.  The Urban and Environmental Policy Department provides its Seniors with the opportunity to connect their final papers to a community based research project.  For more information, please contact Celestina Castillo.

Community Based Learning Research Projects
Involves students in research within the community. The results of the research are communicated to an agency or community organization so it can be used to address community needs.

Community Based Learning Internships
During the period of planning the pilot project, Occidental’s Hameetman Career Center (HCC) developed and implemented a new internship structure to provide 0-unit or 2-unit credits for students working with a faculty member. CCBL collaborates with interested faculty, students, and community partners for CBLR internships, which were curriculum-connected. Once the internship sites are identified, CCBL staff work with faculty, students and community partners to coordinate the Learning Agreement for each internship, which included academic and civic engagement goals.

In addition to the Hameetman Career Services requirements, students participating in a CBLR internship were asked to write about their reflections on their community-based learning experience, how it related to their own personal goals and values, how the experience connected to their course of study and how they saw their role in society, based on the internship experience.

To discuss ideas/proposals, contact Celestina Castillo at castillo@oxy.edu.

Contact Center for Community Based Learning
Fowler 109

1600 Campus Road,
Los Angeles, CA 90041

Celestina Castillo
Executive Director, Center for Community Based Learning