FAQs

Community-Based Learning and Research

What is the difference between community-based learning (service-learning) and community service?
The key to community-based learning is the link between community service and classroom studies. In other words, student service work is designed around meeting curriculum objectives. Community service, on the other hand, is generally done on an individual basis with no academic connection. The two major components of Community-Based Learning are a mutually beneficial relationship between the student and community organization and a focus on intentional reflection. These components do not always exist with community service.

Can community-based learning be incorporated into any course?
Yes, a community-based learning component can be incorporated into any course across all five schools. However, at this time the Community Service-Learning Program add-on credit option may only be attached to a CAS, SIS or Kogod course.

What is the difference between the Community Service-Learning Program (CSLP) add-on credit and an internship?
The CSLP credit requires that you volunteer for 40 hours over the semester with a non-profit organization and that the service you provide is related to the goals or assignments of your class. As long as you are an undergraduate student you are eligible for the CSLP credit. An internship generally requires that you work at least 15 hours a week for about 12 weeks. You must have sophomore status and have completed one full semester at AU. A student can have a 3-6 credit internship depending on how many hours they work per week. A CSLP credit is a set 40 hours per semester for only one additional credit.

Can the Community Service-Learning Program credit be utilized in all five schools?
Currently only three of the five schools accept the CSLP add-on credit option: the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), Kogod School of Business, and School of International Service (SIS).

What is my role as a professor in community-based learning?
Your role as the professor is to support and advise your students as they connect and serve the community organization through their community-based learning project or activity. This comes in a variety of forms based on the understanding that you reach with your CSLP student in the beginning of the semester. 

The faculty role includes the following:

  1. Reviewing and signing off on your student's online registration form through the EngageNet system. This will be e-mailed to you within 48 hours of student submission.
  2. Consulting with your student to determine an appropriate reflection assignment to connect your student's community work with course goals and assignments. Here is a guide outlining previous assignments.
  3. Periodically checking in with your student about the experience.
  4. Evaluating your student's reflective assignment and using that evaluation coupled with your student's hour log (e-mailed to you by the CCES office on the first day of exams) to assign the P/F grade.

How can I find more information about community-based learning curricula?
To learn more about how to incorporate service-learning into your classroom, you can visit many websites that offer training, guidelines, tips, and examples. Two major websites with great resources are Campus Compact and The Michigan Journal of Community Service-Learning. You can also stop by the Center for Community Engagement & Service in Mary Graydon Center 273 and take a look at our library of community-based learning literature and our directory of local non-profit organizations.

Is it possible to earn the CSLP add-on credit during the summer?

Yes! Undergraduate students can earn the CSLP credit a total of 3 times during their career at AU. The due date for the registration form corresponds with the Add/Drop deadline, about two weeks into a semester. Students interested in completing CSLP during the summer should e-mail rego@american.edu for additional information.

I still have questions. Who do I contact?
Meg Rego is the Program Coordinator for Community-Based Learning. She can be reached at rego@american.edu and 202.885.3629.