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Is Engaging Students In Social Learning For You?  

Community-based learning

Well-designed participatory learning courses combine academic content, community partnerships, and critical reflection on issues communities face. The drive to continue participatory learning in the community stems from a commitment to helping the community and providing learners with real life experiences as well as social justice education. Community-based learning differs from traditional forms of learning in that it brings the course content to life, offering students the opportunity to apply their knowledge gained from the course in real-world settings. This gives students the opportunity to learn in real-life settings and develop community skills, as well as opportunities for community partners to respond to meaningful needs.     

Learning from the community and gaining insight into problems

At Manhattan College, we understand community-engaged learning (CEL, also known as service learning) as a teaching method through which educators build reciprocal community partnerships that engage students in relevant and meaningful service, advocacy or research. Course content, organized around clear learning objectives and taking into account the actual needs of the community as defined by the community. The goal of this course and CEL as a system is for students to develop mutually beneficial relationships with community-based groups or organizations that meet community-defined needs. These relationships are at the heart of the CEL curriculum, as students truly learn from the community and gain insight into the problems that need to be addressed. 

They benefit from educators as they open up new research and publication opportunities, engage in peer learning with students, and develop constructive relationships with community organizations. The faculty can also help its students achieve US general education learning outcomes, including civic engagement, and foundations and skills for lifelong learning.   

Implementing and supporting community participation

Community/social programs and individual enrichment programs are readily available, and most students welcome help in their endeavors or in advancing their mission. For educators who support and implement community participation in their classroom, the ability to promote active learning using a variety of learning styles can be extremely beneficial; this can attract less interested people and also attract highly motivated students. 

Introducing students to socially engaged art includes a significant opportunity to connect progressive education with contemporary art. These and other approaches can engage students in answering social questions through the practice of contemporary art. These approaches to art practice and art education offer opportunities for interdisciplinary and collaborative responses in the form of exploration of contemporary social issues through research, pedagogy and practice.   

The vision of artists of social practice as educators practicing pedagogical creativity opens up possibilities for new types of learning. Learning by linking social issues and life events through art can make educational practice more holistic (Gaudelius & Speirs, 2002). 

Community scholarship

An academic experience focused on collaborative, project-based and socially active learning and community scholarship can help students become critically engaged, solve citizen problems, and contribute to the public good. Develop hands-on projects and play activities that promote experiential learning and a variety of critical interactions between participants and learners.   

Socially engaged arts education

Examples of instructional interventions that follow illustrate how culturally relevant arts of social engagement can create learning and value for distance learning experiences. ANT 101 – Cultural Anthropology. This course provides students with a framework for developing an arts education curriculum by delving into theories of past and contemporary structures and exploring the different contexts in which arts education has developed. Courses include community-based visual culture and the arts, and collaboration with museums. ART 414 – Socially Engaged Arts Education. This final course explores learning spaces and models for arts programs (urban education, social justice, socially inclusive arts education) beyond the traditional classroom, focusing on strengthen the bond between the school and the communities it serves. 

Social participation in arts education can include programs and initiatives known as outreach, service learning or community based learning. These initiatives, in the form of mandatory scholarships, aim to position the academic educational experience in partnership with local and global communities to advance democratic forms of research, teaching and service.   

Engaged learning is a form of pedagogy

In pursuit of the educational mission of Slippery Rock University, the Office of Community Involved Learning (OCEL) uses service learning and community engagement as powerful pedagogy to transform students’ intellectual, social, and leadership skills to serve the common good and work for self-improvement and society. Engaged learning is a form of pedagogy and research based on mutual exchange with communities near and far for mutual benefit and development. Engaging communities of interest in collaborative exploration, collaborative learning and collaborative design where trust is built and problem solving is collaborative, ensuring that both learners and participants have free will over the outcomes that emerge.   

Getting feedback from engaging learning 

First, educators can invite students to take the lead in learning planning, facilitation, and collaboration to increase student motivation and participation in learning. These engaging learning strategies are based on educational goals, provide clear feedback, and enable learners to thrive cognitively, socially, emotionally, and civically. Viewing the classroom as a work of art encourages the development of performance-based and social engagement practices, community organization and engagement (Schmidt, 2020). 


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