Community-Based Learning

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Medaille in the Community

A vital part of your Medaille College education is community-based learning. In fact, this is one of the five pillars on which we stake our reputation. What you learn today makes an impact in your community tomorrow.

Explore your community, understand your major, involve yourself and produce new knowledge. This is how you make a difference in your community at Medaille, where college meets career.

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Center for Community-Based Learning

The Medaille College Center for Community-Based Learning fosters and supports learning that links the classroom with the community in an effort to enhance students’ real-world problem-solving skills, promote students’ civic engagement, and advance a civic and sustainable future in Buffalo, the region and the world. We connect students, faculty and staff with community-based organizations to encourage the type of internal growth and fulfillment that only community engagement can generate.

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Faculty Resources

The Center for Community-Based Learning provides a range of services and resources to help faculty as develop ideas, seek appropriate community connections, manage the logistics associated with community-based learning endeavors, critically reflect with students on their experiences and assess at the project’s completion.

Resources related to community-based learning course planning and pedagogy can be found here:

  • Assistance identifying and connecting with community-based organizations for service learning or community-based learning projects
  • Collaborating with to adapt the course  syllabus, create reflection assignments, and develop rubrics to assess community-based learning experiences
  • Securing topical guest speakers from nonprofits for in-class presentations
  • Preparing for service-learning and cultural sensitivity workshops for students prior to engaging in community-based learning experiences
  • Assistance coordinating the logistics of community-based learning projects
  • Gathering and storing community-based learning data
  • Forms to use with your students during community-based learning experiences
  • Video cameras capable of shooting high-definition video and stills, along with tripods

To get started, call (716) 880-3083.

Center for Community-Based Learning Tools & Documents

These documents will assist you as you plan a community-based learning project or volunteer experience. The CCBL will create new tools and documents upon request.

Please call (716) 880-3083 for the most recent version of any of these documents as they are revised frequently.

Document for students to use in managing site logistics:
Know Before You Go (Word)

Worksheet to use in-class or as an assignment for students to learn more about community-based organization:
CBO Research Worksheet (Word)

Hourly log document for students to use with community site supervisors: 
CBL log (Word)

Community site supervisor evaluation of student document:
Site supervisor evaluation of student (Word)

CCBL Group and Individual Volunteer Log (Word)

CCBL Club Volunteer Log (Word)

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Community-Based Learning Course Planning

Community-based learning asks students to apply classroom learning to community settings outside the classroom and to use their experiences in those settings to reflect on and refine their learning. Community-based learning takes different forms. It is the integration of application and reflection that makes community-based learning genuine – regardless of whether the form of community-based learning serves student, institutional, or organizational outcomes. 

While we acknowledge there is no “neat” definition of community-based learning, there is general agreement in the field on common characteristics and best practices associated with community-based learning experiences.

The Center for Community-Based Learning is here to provide support to you from conceptualization through actualization of your community-based learning course During the initial stages of planning a community-based learning experience for your course, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What do you want your students to learn in the course — what are the course objectives?
  2. How might learning in a community context reinforce your course goals? What “big questions” might your students wrestle with in their community-based learning experience?
  3. What are the needs of community partners and the assets of the community that will allow for a successful community-based learning partnership?
  4. What kinds of assignments or projects will accomplish learning outcomes for the course?
  5. In what ways will you allow space for reflecting on the community-based learning experience – online in blogs, in group discussions, essays, etc.

Quick Tips for Designing a Successful Community-Based Learning Project

  1. Make the community-based learning experience integral to your course by awarding credit for service hours and by ensuring that the service experience is well-connected with course learning outcomes.
  2. Reflection is the only way that students can make meaning of their community-based learning experience. Allow opportunity for face-to-face reflection in class. Include written reflection assignments in the forms of journals, personal/class blogs, essays, papers, video diaries, etc.
  3. Incorporate deliverable products – projects that students do for the community-based organizations – into the work of the class. For example, if you and the community partner determine that a final report will be created, have the students work on that final report as an assignment.
  4. For any final deliverable to the community-based organization, make sure that students have the opportunity to turn in the assignment to you, receive feedback, and finalize prior to the end of the semester. Once students have left campus, you do not want to be in the position of finalizing the end product for them!
  5. Be sure to close down the relationship with the community partner(s) at the conclusion of the semester. The Center for Community-Based Learning has a community partner survey that provides closure to the feedback loop.

For more on diiscipline-specific best practices inservice-learning pedagogy, visit the Medaille College Libraries.

Remember these successful high-impact community-based learning strategies (adapted from AAC&U):

  • Create opportunities for structured reflection.
  • Ensure that faculty connect classroom material with the service experience.
  • Require enough service hours to make the experience significant.
  • Focus on the quality of the service, ensuring that students have direct contact with clients.
  • Oversee activities at the service site.

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Critical Reflection

For deep student learning to occur during a community-based learning experience, it is imperative that instructors incorporate continuous and various methods for students to reflect on their experiences in the community. This will help your students ably connect classroom content with community context.

The students in Dr. Kotzin's Early U.S. History class toured canalside with a local archeologist, and reflected on their experience.

Samples of Medaille Student Reflections

Reflection tips and techniques:

The Center for Community-Based Learning will work with you to customize reflective assignments and critical reflection questions.

Types of reflection to consider in community-based learning courses

Reflection strategies from USC

Faculty guide on facilitating reflection

Guide on structured reflection

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Resources for Community-Based Organizations

At Medaille, we recognize that the most valuable community-based learning projects frequently arise from the needs and assets of the community and of the agencies serving the community. To that end, the Director of the Center for Community-Based Learning is enthusiastic about meeting with you to develop and enhance community-based learning project ideas. To get started, call (716) 880-3083.

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Student Resources

Throughout your coursework, you will be challenged by community-based learning projects that will expand your personal development, help you apply your knowledge and build your portfolio of marketable skills.

Looking to get involved off-campus? Volunteering can be a great way to explore career options, build your network and professional skills, and have fun! There are more than 100 community-based organizations that are interested in help from Medaille students. If you want to volunteer but stay on campus, many organizations are interested in student-run donation drives.

Email us or stop by our office in Huber 109B between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. to learn more about community involvement!

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Learn by doing.
Learn by doing good.

At Medaille College, your learning is hands-on and connected with the community. Through EQUIP, our faculty works directly with you to link classroom learning with real-world problem solving, right from the first semester. EQUIP encourages early and continuous career exploration through community involvement and internships.

In every undergraduate program, you will get out of the classroom to apply your learning through teamwork, projects, and service in local organizations. By the time you graduate, you will have developed the skills that employers want, and you will have built a network you can rely on for future opportunities.

We know successful careers happen when you understand your profession’s impact on the community. So, we designed an experience that will connect your goals with the needs and opportunities in Buffalo and beyond.

Year 1:
Explore Your Community and Question Your Role

Build foundational skills for college success and achieve a greater understanding of yourself and your community.

Year 2:
Understand Your Major

Connect your academic concentration to important community issues while exploring career options.

Year 3:
Involve Yourself

Through internships, field experiences and service-learning projects, build your network and gain the skills that will empower you for career success.

Year 4:
Produce New Knowledge

Apply your learning to solve real-world problems and create an original project that has the potential to make a difference.

Implementation of Project EQUIP was supported by a generous grant from The John R. Oishei Foundation, 2010-2013.

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FACULTY & STAFF: Are you doing community-based learning? Medaille needs to know! Please take a few minutes to fill out this brief survey.

Contact Center for Community-Based Learning

18 Agassiz Circle
109B Huber Hall Buffalo, NY 14214
(716) 880-3083

Email Lisa Kragbé at for more info.

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