Online Resources and Organizations
Challenges and Solutions
As with every journey, there are challenges and obstacles involved in adopting community-engaged teaching practices. Here are some of that are often reported by faculty along with some recommendations for overcoming such obstacles and challenges.
Challenge 1: Time Commitment
Many faculty report that the time commitment involved in facilitating community-engaged teaching can be extremely challenging. Depending on the model of community-engaged pedagogy being used, this can be one of the greatest deterrents to faculty who are contemplating the adoption of community-engaged teaching practices. Faculty who use the placement model of community-based learning where they must line-up various community business or organizations, place individual students into those settings, and then supervise each student’s experience often find the sheer managing of the process quite overwhelming.
- Consider adopting alternative models of community-engaged teaching. There are project-based
models, activism models, educational models and others that move the responsibility
for orchestrating community-engaged experiences away from the teacher and that empower
students to identify and establish community partners.
- Utilize campus resources such as Volunteer KSU. VKSU has already established partnerships
with many community organizations and businesses. And, they work with these business
to help document students’ time spent working with them. Granted, to ensure that students
are having experiences that are meeting course learning goals rather than simply volunteering,
instructional measures and parameters that reflect the characteristics of community-engaged
teaching must also be incorporated.
Challenge 2: Assessing and Ensuring Student Learning
Assessing and ensuring student learning is challenging regardless of whether it is in the context of community-engaged teaching. Many of the principles for ensuring and assessing student learning in general apply.
- Develop clear explanations, instructions, assignments, and grading rubrics. Experts
in community-engaged pedagogy stress the importance of giving credit for learning
as opposed to the service or community activity. Quality teaching practices such as
scaffolding instruction, offering explicit instructions for assignments and providing
grading rubrics for each assignment all help to ensure that students are meeting desired
- “Begin with the end in mind,” a mantra of Steven Covey, is one worthy of adopting
when enacting community-engaged teaching. Before designing any learning experience,
become clear on what the student learning outcomes for that experience will be and
construct course materials and instruction around those.
- Require a tangible reflection from students. Whether it is a final reflection paper,
a portfolio, a presentation, or artistic reflection (poem, song, art piece), require
students to complete an assignment that you can collect. These tangibles not only
provide evidence of student learning but also become data that can be analyzed and
evaluated and can often be converted into some scholarly product.
- Take advantage of professional development opportunities that offer strategies for
improving teaching and assessing learning. Most faculty are experts in a discipline,
but many have not been educated in effective instructional practices. KSU’s Center
for Excellence in Teaching and Learning offers many resources including workshops
and one-on-one consultations for improving teaching. Or, explore other resources such
as journals, conferences, and books that focus on community-engaged pedagogy.
Challenge 3: Lack of Resources and Support
Faculty members also report that lack of resources (e.g. funding) and lack of faculty reward act as barriers to providing community-based learning. Not only that, but also few colleges and universities require community-engaged coursework in the academic core.
- Use external and internal funding sources.
- Become part of the solution by joining college committees or initiatives such as Engage KSU that are working to see that community-engaged learning becomes a central value and part of the culture of the university. Take advantage of opportunities or propose changes to your departmental or college T&P guidelines, changes that designate community-engaged teaching and scholarship as valued contributions.
- Consider adopting alternative models of community-engaged teaching. There are project-based models, activism models, educational models and others that move the responsibility for orchestrating community-engaged experiences away from the teacher and that empower students to identify and establish community partners.
There are abundant resources for external funding focused on community-engaged curriculum/teaching and program development. While this list is not exhaustive, here are several worth investigating.
National Council for Black Studies Civic & Community Education & Engagement Grants Program: Under this program grants will be awarded to support projects in which Africana Studies knowledge and skills are made available to local communities. Projects must involve active engagement of faculty and students with community organizations or residents. Up to $5000 possible.
Kellogg Foundation: Grants for “civic engagement.” Amounts are not disclosed and there are no deadlines. Grants are for new programs not those already in operation.
Jenzabar Foundation: This foundation issues grants to institutions of higher education in support of service-based student activities.
Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Partnership Foundation: A Foundation whose mission is to foster campus-community partnerships for academic service and learning. The Foundation offers several monetary awards for higher education civic engagement, including the Campus Community Parternship Award and the Community Academic Service Entrepreneur Award (CASE).
The Bringing Theory to Practice Project, sponsored by the American Association of Colleges & Universities, funds projects that will promote engaged learning, civic development and engagement, and psychosocial well-being of college and university students. http://www.aacu.org/bringing_theory/index.cfm
Outreach Scholarship/W.K. Kellogg Foundation Engagement Award and the C. Peter Magrath University/Community Engagement Award: These awards, offered by the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities and the Kellogg Foundation, recognize the outreach and engagement partnership efforts of American four-year public universities.
Foundation Center: The Foundation Center identifies itself as the leading source of information about philanthropy worldwide. Through data, analysis, and training, it connects people who want to change the world to the resources they need to succeed. The Center maintains the most comprehensive database on U.S. and, increasingly, global grantmakers and their grants.
The Spencer Foundation’s New Civics Initiative: According to their website, the Spencer Foundation’s initiative is to support research that deepens understanding of educational and other influences on civic action, that attends to social inequalities in civic education and civic action, and that has the potential to shape future research and practice in these fields. The intent of the initiative is to create occasions for scholars’ learning, inquiry, and exchange – to strengthen the research community and its connections to educational policy and practice.
Small Grant proposal guidelines ($40,000 or less)
Major Grant proposal guidelines ($40,000 to $350,000)
Open Society Foundations: The Open Society Foundations work to build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable to their citizens. They offer an extensive searchable database of grants in the following categories: Education & Youth, Governance and Accountability, Health, Media and Information, and Rights & Justice. In addition, the database allows searching by the following regions: Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Carribbean, Middle East, and the United States.