Next steps for instructors

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  1. Plan the community-engaged learning course well in advance
    • Reach out to us as soon as possible, no later than one month before the start of the quarter.
  2. Write (or revise) the syllabus to reflect integration of community-engaged learning
    • Send a copy of your syllabus–even from prior quarters - to so we can best match community partners with your course and your learning objectives for the course.
    • A syllabus for a community-engaged learning course should include the following components:
      • What is community-engaged learning?
      • Why community-engaged learning is valuable?
      • Why community-engaged learning is a key component of the course?
      • How community-engaged learning will work in this particular course?
    • While we do everything we can to plan for a smooth community-engaged experience, there is often a case where a student or community partner's plans change and an alternative assignment is necessary. Ideally, an alternative assignment to community-engaged learning has a couple different entry-points, as complications can arise at any point in the quarter.
  3. Introduce community-engaged learning to the students in the first week
    • Community-engaged learning is often a new concept for students. While the relevant information is also documented in the syllabus, a best practice is to introduce and discuss community-engaged learning in the class during the first week to underscore its connection and relevance to the course content and its capacity to offer dynamic experiences to students.
  4. Ensure ongoing support and integration
    • Through intentional community-engaged learning course design, faculty should consider how they are regularly providing space for students to reflect on their community-engaged learning and integrate this reflection with their academic learning. Incorporating community-engaged learning into class discussions, reflection prompts, and course assignments are all ways to ensure students have the guided space to make these connections. 

Frequently asked questions

We work closely with course instructors to identify learning objectives for students while simultaneously working with community-based organizations to identify their volunteer and community needs and the educational opportunities they would like to offer for students. Courses and organizations are subsequently matched to meet both the learning objectives of the instructor and the community-identified needs and learning opportunities of the organization.

Community-engaged learning has the following components:

  • three to five (or more) hours of volunteering each week, from the second week of the quarter through the last week of classes, depending on the organization’s needs.
  • meeting the commitment students are making to the organization, and to thoughtfully integrating their experiences in the community with classroom work.
  • the community-based organization provides a structured learning experience for the student.
  • the faculty member or instructor assists the students in thoughtfully integrating their community experiences into course assignments and discussions.
  • the quarter-long opportunity usually culminates in a reflective paper or related project, demonstrating the student’s understanding of classroom theories applied to community involvement.

At the end of the quarter, CELE will ask the student's site supervisor to complete an online evaluation of their community-engaged learning commitment. This evaluation will be shared with the course instructor and the CELE team. Please note: while we will provide reminders to our community partners, we do not expect a 100% response rate. We ask that you keep an alternative form of assessment in mind.

No, students and instructors use different links for Expo. Instructors will receive a new link for each quarter that they teach a community engaged course. Students should use the link on the "next steps for community-engaged students" page under Step 2.

If students or instructors have trouble logging into Expo, please see Expo Help FAQs or email

With supervisor and instructor approval, students in community-engaged courses can use pre-existing community engagements to fulfill the requirements of their course. Students follow instructions on the “Next steps for students” webpage to submit a self placement through Expo (see FAQs). Once their instructor logs in and approves it, our team will approve it. We suggest that instructors ask themselves these questions when considering which self-placements to approve: 

  • Does this option make this community-engaged course more accessible to the student? 
  • Does the content and time commitment of their current engagement work for the reflection assignments and learning goals of this course?
  • Will the student be engaging with populations or issues through this commitment that will support their learning in the course?