Community-Engaged Learning FAQs

Get answers to all your questions about community-engaged learning at St. John Fisher University.

How is community-engaged learning different from other forms of community engagement (volunteering, internships, community service, field work etc.)?

Community-engaged learning is different than other forms of community engagement in that it:

  • Is integrated into an academic course
  • Focuses on both the service being provided and the learning that is occurring; links the service goals with the learning goals through reflection
  • Acknowledges the wisdom and skills of both community partners and student participants; equally benefits the provider and the recipient of the service
  • Uses structured classroom assignments to engage students in critical thinking, problem-solving, and values education

For example, students in AMST 273 - American Social Justice applied theories and skills learned in that course to their work with Saint's Place. They provided a much needed service by collecting and preparing household goods for new refugee families. As a result, they better understand issues of refugees resettlement, such as dealing with communication barriers, connections/gaps among Rochester service providers, and American attitudes toward "charity" and "refugees."

Why should I take a community-engaged learning class?

The benefits are numerous. Community-engaged learning can:

  • Enhance the meaningfulness of what you're learning (it's more meaningful when the problems and situations are real and you're effecting people you meet)
  • Develop professional and personal skills (you're testing your limits and using hands-on skills)
  • Increase course performance (when the learning is meaningful, you understand course concepts at a deeper level and the information can be retained longer)
  • Increase civic responsibility (students tend to want to continue to serve their community after the course is over)
  • Understand social, global, and multicultural issues (you may find yourself working with diverse populations and in diverse settings)

Are community-engaged learning classes more work than other classes which do not require community service?

Your service experience should substitute previously existing assignments and should not be an "add-on." However, you may be asked to stretch yourself by working with diverse populations, within agencies in the city of Rochester, and solving real-world problems. These experiences may feel challenging, but will provide you with opportunities to make a real contribution and gain skills not possible in "traditional" courses.

What will I be doing in class that's different than a "traditional" course?

You will be asked to solve real-world problems, be proactive and assertive when working with community partners, refine work to meet the needs of community agencies, be flexible and adaptable to changes within a community and the course, and reflect on your experience and learning.

Does Fisher provide transportation to off-campus sites or do I need to provide my own transportation?

You will need to provide your own transportation. However, if you don't have a car, many service sites are easy to get to by bus. Many projects are also group projects and require students to travel to a site together.

Will I be working with a group or individually?

In some courses you'll be working on your own, but in most courses, you'll be working with a group either with other students placed at the same site or as a group project.

Do I have a choice as to the work or partner I’ll be matched with?

Again, this depends on the course and what community partners and projects will best accomplish the course goals. In some courses, you'll have a choice. In others, only one or two agencies will serve as community partners for your course.

How many hours will the community-engaged learning component of the class consume?

The average number of hours is 20, although some courses may require more. These hours may be divided between on-site work and off-site and in-class project or written work.

Can community-engaged learning courses fulfill any Core, major, or minor requirements?

Some courses with a community-engaged learning component are within the Core. Others may fulfill your major or minor requirements, depending on the offerings for a particular semester.