Tracking community engagement is an essential element of service-learning. By tracking and measuring impact, program leaders can determine the outcomes for students and community leaders. But tracking can also pose a significant challenge. Staying up-to-date with students' schedules and attendance, along with ensuring that your community partners have adequate support, can take countless hours and resources.
Luckily, GivePulse's service-learning management platform is here to help. Our all-in-one service-learning management software helps colleges and universities list, organize and measure the impact of service-learning, community engagement and student volunteerism.
But how should you track and measure community engagement, and why do you need a platform to help you? Today, we are diving into some best practices for colleges and universities.
Community Engagement: What to Track
If you are leading a community engagement project or program, you might be wondering how best to measure its impact. Like classroom learning, part of measuring service-learning is tracking student attendance and measuring student learning. But since service-learning also engages the community, your tracking and assessment should, too.
Below are three ways to measure the impact of your service-learning project.
Participation is the measure of the time that students spend engaging with their community partner. Program leaders can measure participation in two ways:
- The number of participants (students, faculty, staff, community members)
- The total hours participated
Colleges can track community student service hours through service-learning management software. GivePulse allows organizers to set up orientation dates, one-time events or ongoing opportunities and post them in a calendar, map or list. Once students have signed up for an opportunity, administrators can sign people in to track attendance and measure hours.
Student Learning Outcomes
Student learning outcomes (SLOs) measure individual growth and learning that takes place as a result of community engagement. Student learning outcomes should be designed and shared before a course begins, and they should measure students' progress in several areas, which may include:
- Developing analytical, problem-solving and critical thinking skills
- Deepening a sense of civic responsibility and local/global citizenship
- Building career-readiness skills, both technical and relational
- Strengthening personal outcomes like confidence, self-awareness and responsibility
Program leaders can track progress towards student learning outcomes through student reflections, surveys and community partner feedback. At GivePulse, we put a strong emphasis on pre and post-reflection. Our platform makes it easy to gather student reflections at regular intervals and allows faculty, students and partners to engage in a productive post-reflection dialogue. Administrators can also design surveys to collect qualitative and quantitative data from students and community partners.
To get a complete understanding of the success of your program, you should also have mechanisms in place to measure the outcomes for your community. Data you gather to assess this may include:
- The number of community partners you collaborate with
- The overall retention rate of partners
- Quantitative data to demonstrate the efficacy of your program in meeting community goals
- Feedback from community partners on the impact and effectiveness of your program
Using GivePulse, program leaders can gather this data using surveys, which can be designed with quantitative and qualitative fields so you can accurately assess your community impact. And with all your tracked data in one place, it is easy to review and report on specific users, activities, groups and partners.
Tracking Community Engagement with GivePulse
At GivePulse, we believe in the power of service-learning. That's why we designed our platform to help professors, teachers, educators, staff and community engagement centers streamline the logistics of managing community partnerships and tracking student engagement in service-learning courses.
Our intuitive tracking tools make it straightforward to track and measure the impact of community engagement. Plus, our Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) integrates with any Learning Management System (LMS), allowing you to embed the GivePulse LTI into assignments and courses to organize service-learning from a single location.
Ready to get started? Schedule a demo with GivePulse today to see how we can help your college or university track and scale community engagement.
GivePulse's mission is to enable everyone in the world to participate and engage in lifting their community to new heights. We do so by providing a platform to list, find, organize and measure the impact of service-learning, community engagement, philanthropy, corporate social responsibility and volunteerism.
Founded in 2012 in Austin, Texas, GivePulse works with 650,000+ groups, including colleges and universities, nonprofits, businesses, K-12/school districts and cities and municipalities. Together, we connect millions of people in an effort to create positive social change.
Start making a difference today by visiting www.givepulse.com.