Community Engaged Learning
Resources for Faculty

Community Engaged Learning Best Practices:

Take the first step to a great partnership

United Way of Rhode Island Volunteer Center is a ‘one stop shopping’ for students and faculty, where they can find opportunities from over 100 Rhode Island nonprofits. Opportunities are searchable by location, agency as well as interest areas.  

Alicia Vignali Henry, Community Engagement Coordinator, alongside the RI United Way Volunteer Engagement staff, will help faculty match with appropriate agencies. Partner agencies also have access to matching, so they are invited to seek volunteers for team events, long term projects and other need based initiatives.

If you are interested in working with a community partner, or planning a service based event please contact Alicia Vignali Henry or the Office of Community Engagement and Action at 401-874-2568.

Community Quick Links:

Processes and resources to review when creating and sustaining high impact practices.

Important Information & Resources

Be sure to review the Important Logistical Processes section on the CCEE Faculty Resource page.

Key Questions & Topics

Reflect on the following questions on your own or connect with your Experiential Education Coordinator to discuss.

  1. Needs. Consider the learning objectives and needs of your course. Once those are established, meet with potential community partners to discuss needs and partnership ideas. Encourage partner to organize by highest needs first.
  2. Type of Engagement. The type of student engagement should meet the needs of both the partner and the course. Service-Learning or Community Based Learning courses have a shared, reciprocal partnership. Review the image below and Service-Learning: A Balanced Approach to Experiential Education by Andrew Furco for more information.
  3. Position Descriptions: Create position descriptions for any open volunteer, Community Work Study, or internship positions. Need assistance? Connect with Experiential Education coordinators or Employer Relations team.
  4. Length of Service: Review the hours per credit tab and consider how much time will be needed for the students to meet the learning goals for the class and needs of the community partner. Start small, laying a foundation to build upon. Consider opportunities in which the needs build upon each other form semester to semester.
  5. Logistics: Review important logistical processes related to agreements, risk, and transportation
  6. Assessment: To continue improving and sustaining partnerships, integrate assessment and evaluation into the community engaged learning experience, for both the student and the agency partner. Establish an evaluation strategy in which needs and programs are reviewed and reconsidered/revised for effectiveness.

Terms & Definitions

  • Civic Engagement – “Civic engagement means working to make a difference in the civic life of our communities and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values and motivation to make that difference. It means promoting the quality of life in a community, through both political and non political processes.” – Tom Ehrlich, civic scholar & leader
  • Civic Responsibility – A commitment to and active cultivation of the principles of civic engagement as defined above.
  • Service-Learning – Curriculum-based hands-on learning with the community that addresses real world issues. Service provides context for translating discipline-based theories into practice. Students apply academic and discipline knowledge to meet community identified needs.
  • Direct Service – Working directly with individuals and organizations to address a community issue or need (i.e. tutoring, mentoring, volunteering at soup kitchen, trail maintenance, etc.)
  • Indirect Service – Working indirectly with individuals and organizations to address a community issue or need. Often policy or “root-cause” focused (i.e. Fundraising, clothing/food drive, capacity building projects, etc.)
  • Advocacy – Planning, creating, promoting, and cultivating awareness initiatives and events to address a community issue or need (i.e. awareness campaigns, education tables, partnering with elected officials, facilitating community conversations/presentations, etc.)
  • Active Citizenship – Community is an integral part of an individual’s values and life choices. (Break Away –
  • Volunteer – A person who performs a service willingly, without pay or credit in order to support a cause, usually through a non-profit organization. The primary recipient and focus of the service is the agency and issue.
  • Public Service – A type of service, engagement, or employment that is performed to fill a specific need of a community, like health, safety, and education.
  • Reciprocity – The mutual exchange of resources, knowledge, expertise, skills, etc. between partners engaged in a relationship.

Hours per Credit


Community based learning and civic engagement activities that are assigned as part of lecture class content should be included as part of the course contact hours. Addition information can be found in the Academic Regulations of the University Manual.

  • Note: Contact hours are the same regardless of semester/session.
  • 3 credits: 32.5 – 35 total contact hours
  • 1 credit: 11 total hours
  • If you would like to increase community based learning hours, consider adding a credit or utilizing Community Service (CSV 301) field experience credit (practicum course, see below).


For practicum courses, CCEE recommends the following hours per credit breakdown (35 hours per credit), as shown in the ITR Internship Program example:

Civic Engagement Tips for Advisors

Consider the following when assisting students to find an appropriate community-based internship or experiential opportunity that could meet their current learning goals:        

  • Service leadership and engagement in the community can provide students the opportunity to gain context to skills and knowledge they have been developing through years of education. Many students find passion and perspective they otherwise might not have had the opportunity to experience, resulting in increased insight and confidence in potential major or career paths.
  • Understand the types of experiential education opportunities available and that both credit and non-credit opportunities exist. In addition to service-learning and C1 Civic Responsibility courses, where students can be introduced to community agencies and topics, students can gain experience through volunteering, community work study, and service leadership roles.
  • Does the student have elective credit available for an internship, service-learning, or other experiential course? If so, encourage looking into non profit organizations and agencies that serve the public good.
  • If the student can enroll in an internship or service-learning course, what type of course would best fit? Some courses are highly structured, like the ITR Internship Program, which means the student will have significant guidance and support throughout the entire experience. Other courses might be more “low-touch” courses and provide pass/fail credit (no seminar) with minimal professional career reflection and touchpoints (like CSV 303).

URI Service-Learning Courses
Curriculum-based hands-on learning with the community that addresses real world issues. Service provides context for translating discipline-based theories into practice. Students apply academic and discipline knowledge to meet community identified needs. To help ensure accurate tracking of community engaged learning and adherence to University and federal policies, connect with Sarah Miller when you add or are considering adding a service-learning or community engaged learning component to a course.

Service-Learning Coded Courses

SubjectCatalogCourse TitleGen Ed
AAF300Special Topics in African and Afro-American Studies
AVS132GSustainable Agriculture, Food Systems, and Society
CPL523Planning Theory
CSV301Course-Based Community Service
CSV303Service In The Community
EDC456Mathematics Methods in Elementary & Middle School Teaching
HDF203Introduction to Work & Children
HDF301Early Childhood Curriculum I: Introduction to Curriculum
HDF303Early Childhood Curriculum II: Math & Science
HDF306Infant Development
HDF312Adult Development
HDF314Introduction to Gerontology
HDF434Children and Families in Poverty
HDF440Environmental Context of AgingA2, C1
HDF480Senior Field Experiences in Community AgenciesC1, D1
HDF562Organization Development in Human Services
HPR392Honors Seminar in Civic Engagement & Soc. and Beh. Science
KIN407Physical Activity as Therapy
PHP340Service Learning
PHP350Service - Adopt a Patient
PLS390Irrigation Technology
WRT404Writing for Community Service
Coded as of 8/2023 by CCEE