U of M offers identifier for community-engaged learning courses

A Community-Engaged Learning course attribute is now available for instructors to select when developing or revising a course that includes a community-engaged learning component. The attribute was developed in response to students' growing interest in academic courses that offer community-based learning. Faculty can use the attribute  to spotlight community-engaged learning pedagogies in course descriptions. The attribute also helps students and academic units identify courses that contain community-engaged learning opportunities. 

Essential Components

Courses with a Community-Engaged Learning attribute contain all of the following components:

  1.  At least 25 percent of the course grade focuses on and/or incorporates community-engaged learning whereby student learning from community-engaged learning experiences is assessed. The course or learning module also offers a method to assess the learning derived from the community-engaged learning experiences.
  2.  Course objectives demonstrate an integration of an educationally meaningful community-engaged learning to enhance the academic focus of the course. The community experience also promotes the achievement of University of Minnesota student learning and/or student development outcomes.
  3.  Activities (e.g.., readings, discussions, projects, assignments) incorporate the community-engaged learning experience and how it relates  to the course subject matter. Student are also required to analyze their community experiences and synthesize these experiences with other materials in the course or learning module.
  4.  Reflection on community-engaged learning experiences is ongoing and includes dialog about community issues as appropriate to the course or learning module.
  5.  If a community-based agency is involved, there is an agreed upon set of expectations and outcomes for all involved.


  • What is the Community-Engaged Learning attribute?
    The Community-Engaged Learning course attribute is an option that instructors can select when developing or revising a course to designate the inclusion of a community-engaged learning component.
  • What qualifies as a "community-engaged learning component"?
    While each faculty member determines what qualifies for community-engaged learning in his/her own course, the recommended criteria for naming community-engaged learning as an attribute of the course include the above essential components.
  • What is the purpose of having a Community-Engaged Learning attribute?
    The attribute gives instructors an opportunity to spotlight the inclusion of community-engaged learning pedagogies in describing their course. The Student Experience in the Research University (SERU) survey reveals that 84 percent of students believe that opportunities to connect their academic work with community-engaged experiences are important. The attribute allows interested students to easily locate courses that contain community-engaged learning experiences. In addition, to respond more fully to requests for data on community-engaged teaching practices, the attribute provides valuable information regarding the number, scale, and frequency of community-engaged learning offerings. 
  • What kinds of courses might contain this attribute?
    The attribute can be applied to any credit-bearing, academic course that contains a community-engaged learning component. There is a wide range of community-engaged experience that might be incorporated in courses. To help students find specific community-engaged learning opportunities, the following options refer to experiences conducted in community-based settings:
    Clinical: Experience through which the student applies and practices learned academic and experiential skills in a supervised professional setting, often in health-related or legal fields. Typically, the experience is offered in a separate credit-bearing course related to other more theoretical courses and/or is offered as a culminating experience after a sequence of theoretical courses. 
    Entrepreneurship: Students explore and build skills in planning and/or developing businesses, enterprises, or social ventures. 
    Field Study: Students practice skills, conduct research, and/or explore academic content in an off-campus setting. The setting is primarily a context to benefit and enhance student learning.
    Internship/Co-Op: An uncompensated or compensated off-campus activity in a student's field of study in which the student explores industry-related or work-related issues and/or develops professional or para-professional knowledge and skills. Typically, the student's work is supervised and evaluated by a site coordinator or the instructor. 
    Practicum: Course or student exercise involving practical experience in a professional or other work-related setting (paid or unpaid) in which the student applies learning gained from theoretical or other academic study. Activity might include supervised opportunity as part of a pre-service professional experience
    Research: Opportunity for student to collaborate with an external organization or community partner to conduct research. The research might or might not meet the needs of the organization or the broader community.
    Service-Learning: Optional or required out-of-classroom community service experiences/projects attached to a course or other credit bearing experience. Students participate in an organized service activity that meets identified community needs and reflect on the service activity to better understand course content.
    Student Teaching: Pre-professional and/or pre-service experience, usually as part of a teacher education program, through which the student conducts experiential learning within a formal education school setting. The student participates in supervised teaching that is evaluated by a supervising teacher or other instructor. 
  • Is the Community-Engaged Learning attribute being used at the course level or class level?
    At the moment, the attribute is only used at the course level. If a course is marked with the Community-Engaged Learning attribute and contains more than one section, ALL sections will be marked with the attribute.  Therefore, only courses where all sections include a community-engaged learning component should be marked. 
  • Who decides whether a course should contain the Community-Engaged Learning attribute?
    The decision is the instructor's, guided by the components listed in the above "Essential Components." Some departments or college curricular committees may decide to occasionally review their offerings of community-engaged learning within courses as part of their curricular oversight. Consideration should be given as to whether the community-engaged learning component is a permanent, regular feature of the course (regardless of who teaches the course), or if the community-engaged learning component is a particular instructional strategy that a faculty member chooses to use in her/her teaching of the course. Consideration should also be given as to whether all sections of a course contain a community-engaged learning component or whether it applies to only a subset of sections.