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