Report Card Review with St. Thomas University volunteer mentors at Carol City Middle School, Fall 2016
Bobcats Learning & Working with the Community for the Common Good
Mimi Dooner Hall, Room 210A | 16401 NW 37th Avenue, Miami, FL 33054 | 305.628.6717 | firstname.lastname@example.org
St. Thomas University’s Center for Community Engagement seeks to create opportunities for St. Thomas students to experience learning outside the classroom, working on real-world problems with community partners. Faculty and community partners work together to develop course-specific activities that serve to benefit both the students and the partner/community stakeholders. These activities, engagements, or immersion experiences can be curricular (class-required activity, research, or internship), co-curricular (service learning), or community work-study.
Not only can Bobcats feel good about learning and working with fellow community members for the common good, but they are more likely to persist and excel in college because of it! Research shows that the high-impact practices of undergraduate research, collaborative projects, internships, and service-learning (among others) correlate with gains in deep learning and have greatest impact on retention in the first year and in the major field of study (Kuh 2009, 2012). Furthermore, leadership experience and community service also correlate positively with GPA for first-generation students of color (Ting, 2003). The Center for Community Engagement aims to create community-based learning experiences that engage students in these educational practices as often as possible.
How is community-engaged learning different than volunteerism?
Community-engaged learning is rooted in engaged scholarship (e.g. civic engagement, community engagement, service learning, experiential learning) and is a pedagogical approach that integrates classroom learning with real world community leaders and change agents on issues of social concern. It is founded on the premise that “the most profound learning comes from experience that is supported by broad academic knowledge, intellectual analysis blended with thoughtful reflection which informs future action.” (https://www.fordham.edu)
The Center for Community Engagement supports faculty in the development and teaching of all courses related to engaged scholarship. While volunteerism has multiple benefits to the individual and community and is included in some of what the Center coordinates with its long-term partners, deeper learning occurs when students combine thoughtful knowledge, personal observation, and community interaction with reflection on a course’s themes. The Center seeks to partner with campus leaders to develop of a variety of experiences– locally, regionally, and globally– that support Bobcats’ academic, vocational, civic, and personal growth.