Civic Learning and Community-Based Teaching

The Civic Engagement initiative at GVSU strengthens our commitment to community-based and democratic learning. Efforts to explore and reclaim a civic mission at GVSU have taken many forms across campus over the past five years, with robust academic work taking place in the Colleges.

The Pew FTLC offers support for faculty interested in community based teaching and scholarship, with faculty learning communities around the topic, grant funding opportunities for community-based teaching projects, individual or departmental consultations around CBL course development, project integration and mutuality, and on-demand workshops.  Direct inquiries to Patty Stow Bolea, Pew FTLC Faculty Fellow and Professor of Social Work at [email protected].





Authored by a Civic Engagement Faculty Learning Community, the document Civic Engagement Student Learning Outcomes is offered as a framework for course and curriculum planning. Student learning outcomes are articulated in the areas of civic knowledge, civic skills, civic values, and civic awareness.  



Williams Howe, C., Coleman, K., Hamshaw, K., & Westkiik, K. (2014). Student Development and Service-Learning:A Three-Phased Model for Course Design. Student Development: International Journal of Research on Service-Learning and Community Engagement, 2 (1).

Designing Community Based Courses: a guide for instructors to develop community partnerships and create publicly engaged scholarship courses. University of California Berkeley

Community Engaged Learning Model, Approved 9/28/15 Duquesne University, Center for Community-Engaged Teaching and Research Home/CEL Model 4 2015.pdf

Michigan State University Service Learning Toolkit



ACTIVATE is a series of interactive modules offers faculty, staff and student organizations the opportunity to prepare for meaningful, respectful, and productive community engagement experiences. 



While this list is not exhaustive for each discipline, it provides an opportunity for Unit Heads and faculty to discuss and think through faculty preparation, student preparedness, course learning objectives and their alignment with program expectations, partnership and community considerations, unit and university resources

  1. Faculty Preparation
    1. What reading, discussion or faculty development experience does the instructor have in planning, partnering, and engaging in the pedagogy of community based learning?
    2. Who is an identified faculty mentor for this work?
    3. Does the syllabus meet the criteria for CBL?
  2. Student Preparation       
    1. What student development has occurred to prepare students for this experience?
    2. What is their knowledge base regarding the community partner and constituents targeted in the CBL project?
    3. What competencies do students need prior to their engagement? (professional, cultural, disciplinary)
  3. Learning Objectives
    1. What are the identified course objectives related to the community based learning?
    2. What are the specific plans with the partner? Task supervisor? Contingency planning?
    3. How do these objectives align with course and program expectations? How do these CBL aims align with student and professional development?
  4. Unit, College, and University Resources
    1. What additional resources are required from students (Time? Money? Travel?)
    2. What unit, college, and/or university resources are required for faculty engaged in the CBL work? (Time? Money? Travel?)
  5. Faculty teaching scholarship and service
    1. How well does this high impact teaching practice integrate with the workload, as well as values and reward system of the unit and college? (Teaching, Scholarship, Service)
    2. Have GVSU HRRC requirements related to any course based research been reviewed?
  6. Risk Management
    1. Review the potential risks for faculty, students and community related to the CBL work.
    2. Are there emergency, health, and safety considerations? If so, what is the contingency plan for these situations? Have students been prepared with regard to risk?
    3. Are there issues of health compliance or other policies already in place at GVSU?
    4. Review issues of confidentiality for community partners and constituents.



Designing Community Based Courses: a guide for instructors to develop community partnerships and create publicly engaged scholarship courses. University of California Berkeley (see pages 25-28)

Michigan State University Service Learning Toolkit (See pages 37-44)

Engaging All Partners in Reflection: Designing and Implementing Integrative Reflection Opportunities, Kathleen Rice, K L Rice Consulting.

Generating, Deepening, and Documenting Learning: The Power of Critical Reflection in Applied LearningAsh, Sara h L. and Clayton, Patti H., Journal of Applied Learning in Higher Education Vol. 1, Fall 2009, 25-48.

Moving Beyond the "Missionary Ideology" to Effective Practice, Verna Cornelia Price, Pamela Toole, & Wokie Weah, National Youth Leadership Council (2007).

Pedagogical Variations in Service-Learning and Student Outcomes: How Time, Contact, and Reflection Matter, Mabry, J. Beth, Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, v5 p32-47 (Fall 1998).

[Resources compiled by Patty Stow Bolea, Pew FTLC Faculty Fellow, December 2017]


National Task Force on Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement. 2012. A Crucible Moment: College Learning and Democracy’s Future. Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges and Universities.

Democratic Dilemmas of Teaching Service-Learning: Curricular Strategies for Success by Cress, Donahue, and Associates, 2011 [Available to check out from the Pew FTLC collection]

Civic Prompts: Making Civic Learning Routine across the Disciplines. by Caryn McTighe Musil, 2015. 

  • How can we best prepare students for democratic engagement? This AAC&U report provides guidance on how civic learning can be framed in terms of disciplinary learning outcomes, complete with discussion prompts for faculty and/or departmental conversations as well



Community Based Learning Best Practices, Civic Conversation Series Fall 2017

Use of Reflection: Civic Engagement and Community Based Learning, Civic Conversation Series Fall 2017

Service-Learning/Community-Based Learning, Risk Management presentation

Best Practices for Community-Based Teaching, Faculty Learning Community Winter 2014

Community Service Learning Center  provides co-curricular community-based learning resources

The Office of Community Engagement maintains a wealth of resources on their page, including tools, conferences, and assessment strategies. 



Download document defining terms such as civic learning, community-based learning, co-curricular, and community engagement.  

Page last modified November 9, 2022