How to Integrate Community Based Learning Into Your Course

Choosing a Community Based Learning Component

  • How integral is the community based learning experience to the course content?
  • What knowledge and skills will students need in order to be successful with their community project?
  • Does the community partner have experience with community based learning? If not, are they interested and able to learn?
  • How many students can the community project site(s) accommodate?
  • What resources are available to support community based learning efforts?
  • Are the interests of the community partner addressed in designing the community project?
  • Is there someone within the organization that can effectively supervise and mentor the students? How important is this for the specific project?

Guiding Questions for Integrating Community Based Learning Into a Course

  • What outcomes are desired for the course?
  • Which course? Which type of community based learning course structure? (see “Types of Community Based Learning Components"above)
  • What types of community projects?
  • Which community partner?
  • How will the learning be evaluated?
  • How will projects be implemented and monitored?
  • How will outcomes be measured?

Criteria for Choosing a Community Based Learning Site

  • The site must be doing work that is connected to the course in ways that will be obvious to students
  • Activities at the site must give students opportunities to reflect on how course concepts relate to the activities
  • Whenever possible, students should have direct contact with constituency groups with which the organization regularly interacts
  • The work students do should have some clear connection to the main purposes of the organization
  • Whenever possible, work toward a long term relationship with the community partner, for longer-term benefits for all involved (Littlefield, 1994)

Possible Outcomes of Community Based Learning

  • Enhanced understanding of course content
  • Ability to link course content to real life situations
  • Moral development
  • Increased civic responsibility
  • Leadership skills and self-efficacy
  • Enhanced appreciation for diversity
  • Career preparation
  • Increased student retention

To discuss ideas/proposals, contact Martha Matsuoka at

Contact Center for Community Based Learning
Fowler 109

1600 Campus Road,
Los Angeles, CA 90041

Celestina Castillo
Executive Director, Center for Community Based Learning
Rory Hayes
Coordinator of Community Programs (CCBL and OXY ARTS)