How to Assess Student Community Engagement

Learning shouldn't be limited to the four walls of a classroom. One of the best ways for students to prepare themselves for life after graduation is through community-engaged research and service-learning. 

Community engagement allows students to apply everything they learn in the classroom to a real-world setting while developing transferable skills that will serve them in internships and jobs. By engaging with local community partners, students also develop a professional network, helping them to find mentors and opportunities.

Like in-classroom learning, community engagement should be structured around clear expectations and outcomes so that students can demonstrate what and how they learned. To support this, educators and community partners need systems to track community engagement and gather responses like student reflections.

This is where a service-learning management (SLM) platform can help. By using an SLM like GivePulse, professors and program leaders can streamline the logistics of managing community partnerships and tracking student engagement in service-learning courses. This ensures that community engagement is meaningful, measurable and impactful for students and partners.

Setting Benchmarks

To effectively measure community engagement, you must start with clear benchmarks. For service-learning courses and co-curricular engagement, these benchmarks typically take the form of student learning outcomes (SLOs). SLOs may define issues, values and attitudes your students should be able to articulate or concrete skills they should have developed by the end of the program or course. Use the broad goals of your course or program to specify how you hope students will learn and grow. 

Once you have identified what students should be learning, you'll need to develop a rubric to assess their progress. In some cases, there may be existing resources available to help you. The American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) VALUE rubrics are open educational resources that faculty and educators can use to assess student learning in areas such as civic engagement and critical thinking.

Tracking Hours

Just as professors track and weight student participation in class, staff and faculty leading community engagement programs need to ensure that students are showing up to partner sites when they should be.

GivePulse helps program leaders oversee planning and scheduling for individuals and groups. Students can then be signed in when they arrive on-site, allowing organizers and partners to track hours and manage logistics like transportation.

Gathering Student Reflections

While hours account for quantitative data, assessment should be qualitative, too. By requiring student reflections before, during and after community engagement, you provide opportunities for students to process their experiences and unpack what they learned. Reflection helps students connect what they learn on-site to what they learn in the classroom. Educators can use reflection exercises to gauge individual growth and gather general feedback to improve experiences.

Using GivePulse, course or program administrators can provide a simple platform for students to submit reflections and engage in productive and targeted dialogue with faculty, peers and partners.

At the end of the course or program, our survey tools can be used to gather comprehensive feedback in the form of course evaluations or surveys. Surveys can also be great tools to better understand the community partner experience. 

Using GivePulse to Assess Student Community Engagement

At GivePulse, we believe community engagement is a transformational opportunity that empowers students to lead, learn and grow. 

Our all-in-one SLM provides professors, teachers, educators, staff and community engagement centers with the tools to streamline the logistics of managing community partnerships and tracking student engagement in service-learning courses. And, since it gathers and stores all student data related to community engagement, it's easy to create a service-learning transcript to help students demonstrate the breadth of their learning.

Ready to see how we can help you achieve your community engagement goals? Schedule a demo with GivePulse today.



About GivePulse

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.

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