Community engagement calls for clearly defining and communicating about participant roles and expectations. The lists below are designed to help them be prepared for that.

Who Participates, How, and Possible Implications

Common Roles:
  • Actively participate in steps like selecting a topic, interviewing guest speakers, and designing presentations
    • Engage in regular reflection, including about the significance of challenges, events, and outcomes
      • Evaluate the project, including their own performance, impacts, and goal attainment

      Potential Challenges:
      • Designing or completing the project in ways that minimize harm and maximize positive community impacts
        • Collaborating, often including with new people
          • Communicating effectively with advisor(s), community liaisons, community members, etc. (e.g., about any issues or concerns)
            • Being an active learner and (where applicable) a project leader
              • Dealing with uncertainty about what to do
              Common Roles:
              • Selecting goals and objectives
                • Providing guidance, such as by designing or reviewing plans, answering questions, and addressing issues that arise
                  • Regularly checking progress based on a project timeline and reflection plan
                    • Including academic content to prepare learners for the process, applying skills and knowledge, and reflecting
                      • Assessing progress and final outcomes, including impacts and goal attainment

                      Potential Challenges:
                      • Developing criteria for credit-worthy experiences in non-classroom settings
                        • Setting thresholds to measure proficiency
                          • Funding (e.g., ELOs may not be an "allowable expenditure") (note: some schools use braided funding strategies (fed, school improvement grants, private, other sources)
                            • Having greater variation in student learning outcomes vs. traditional teaching methods
                              • Giving up some control over learning situations, including allowing students to make, understand, and learn from "mistakes"
                                • Including academic content that prepares students to be active learners, work with people different from them, and make connections between the course and project experiences
                                  • Balancing providing guidance and allowing student autonomy
                                    • Assessment time (e.g., grading reflections can take longer than multiple choice quizzes etc.)
                                      • Having interdisciplinary knowledge (depending on topic variation)
                                      Common Roles:
                                      • Help identify a community need to address
                                        • Provide on-site supervision and tasks
                                          • Share feedback (including any concerns) with students and advisors
                                            • Assess learner performance and experience outcomes

                                            Potential Challenges:
                                            • Training and supervising students with limited time commitments
                                              • Providing experiences that satisfy academic needs