Community-Based Learning (CBL)

What is Community-Based Learning (CBL)

Community–based learning: Community-based learning includes service, community based research, and other applications of course-related skills to assist local (and sometimes global) service organizations. There are many definitions, but all reflect the principles captured in this definition from the Campus Compact National Center for Community Colleges:

[It] is a teaching method which combines community service with academic instruction as it focuses on critical, reflective thinking and civic responsibility. Programs involve students in organized community service that addresses local needs, while developing their academic skills, sense of civic responsibility, and commitment to the community


Students provide direct service to the community, usually through a local non-profit agency.  Service occurs on-site and often exposes students to new people and places.

Community-Based Research/Action Research  

Faculty and community partners collaborate to develop research projects that benefit the community. Action research involves the process of actively participating in an organization change situation while conducting research. Action research can also be undertaken with the aim of improving strategies, practices and knowledge of the environments within which shared practice. As designers and stakeholders, researchers work with others to propose a new course of action to address community needs and issues.

Advocacy Work  

Students research social issues and public policy to create documents or presentations that inform decision-makers or educate the general public.

Skills-Based Service  

Students, often in teams, complete a project that assists a local non-profit organization with its functional needs (a new database, a multi-media project to document their work or language translation of important documents).