Why Incorporate Community-Based Projects?

Decorative: "The city is your textbook."

 

"Teaching Through Community-Based Projects" (post) outlines some of the many "high-impact" benefits to students and learning that accrue when community-based projects are incorporated into courses.

A. General Benefits of Community-Based Projects

  • Makes students more aware of "the cultural differences and social issues in their communities."
  • Helps learners "contextualiz[e] the[ir] knowledge in real-life situations."
  • Helps "students understand that there is a relevant relationship between their professional skills and their role as citizens within their communities."
  • "[I]nstill[s] in students a sense of social responsibility and cultural awareness at an early stage in their professional life."

B. Key Terms

  • "[C]ontextualization" - "instructional strategies intended to link academic content with its application in a specific context relevant to the students."
  • "[C]ommunity-based instruction" - "systematic instruction that integrates community settings with meaningful learning and it is age-appropriate to the skills of the students."
  • A note on field trips - "A field trip does not involve the 'doing' because it is generally limited to observation ... they help enhance learning outside the classroom. However, they generally lack the possibility for students to learn from social interaction."

C. "Skills that students can gain from a community-based project":

1. Altruism and Social Awareness

  • "[H]elp[s] students develop a sense of belonging to their communities."
  • "[R]aise[s] awareness about the realities of others."
  • "[I]nstill[s] in students a sense of inclusiveness, diversity, belonging, and respect for others."

2. Teamwork

  • "[H]elp[s] students improve their interpersonal relationships by empowering them with their own decision-making and problem solving."

3. Critical Thinking

  • "[A]llows [students] to make decisions through their own reflection and judgment."
  • "[G]ive[s] students an opportunity to observe and analyze real-world situations while improving their professional skills and learning from the realities of their community."

4. Interpersonal Skills

  • Teaches students how "to move beyond their comfort zone to interact with people from diverse backgrounds to find collective solutions."
  • "[F]oster[s] enhanced student interaction, which implies communication, peer-assessment, and continuous feedback."

D. See also 

1. Community/Service Learning

2. High-Impact Practices

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