Community-Based Learning: Definition & Examples

Instructor: Wendy A. Garland

Wendy has a Ph.D. in Adult Education and a Master's Degree in Business Management. She has 10 years experience working in higher education.

Community-based learning brings together the community with academic learning through various types of instructional strategies. This lesson will describe types of community-based learning, provide examples, and discusses the benefits of its use.

Authenticity in the Classroom

Have you wondered how to make your classroom lessons more authentic? One way is to incorporate instructional strategies that are based on real-life, everyday issues. Community based learning, often referred by the acronym CBL, is learning that incorporates the community and immediate environment into the teaching approach. It can be done in many different ways, but the overall goal is to integrate community into academic learning.

The motivation for such an approach in educational comes from the belief that all communities have innate values that can and do enrich learning experiences. Within the immediate environment, there are resources and assets that can be used to provide real-life, hands-on experience for students that cement learning objectives as real and important skills.

Community-based learning can be found at all levels of education. It is important to engage students early so that they can develop relationships that enhance their overall learning experiences, and it is important to engage students as they get older because it keeps them motivated when they can see a role for themselves in the greater social context. Because community-based learning can be done at any level, teachers can easily incorporate strategies into any curriculum.

Types of Community-Based Learning

There are many ways to utilize community-based learning. We will focus on four of the most common strategies.

Community Integration

This brings the community into the classroom and the classroom into the community. Community integration can be achieved by inviting community members to lead a class or to mentor students. Teachers can also plan visits to local businesses to learn onsite what has been discussed in the classroom.

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