Community-Based Learning Experiences

Educator successfully facilitates an experience in which students are engaged in learning about a global topic or issue with and from the community.
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About this Micro-credential

Key Method

The educator identifies or creates a community-based learning experience that enhances student learning about a globally significant issue. The educator designs and facilitates the community learning experience to maximize students’ global engagement and guides students through a reflective debrief of the experience.

Method Components

What are Community-Based Learning Experiences?

Community-based learning experiences (CBLEs) help students learn from and with the local and/or global community by connecting the curriculum to community contexts, concepts, and issues that are more familiar, accessible, and relevant to them.

CBLEs can include the following:

  • Using case studies* drawn from the local community
  • Bringing in community members who have relevant stories and perspectives to share such as:
    • oral histories
    • cultural practices
    • the arts
    • firsthand knowledge of community issues
  • Bringing in experts* who can:
    • give demonstrations
    • serve as guest speakers
    • participate in panel presentations
    • mentor students
    • evaluate and give feedback on student work
  • Experiential learning where students go out into the community to engage in fieldwork such as:
    • site visits
    • observation
    • interviews
    • data collection
  • Collaboration with the community to address problems and issues through:
    • service learning
    • Knowledge to Action projects***

How do Community-Based Learning Experiences promote global engagement?

CBLEs communicate to students the value of community and the importance of their role within that community (both locally and globally). Inviting community members into the classroom and/or using the community as a classroom helps students understand and appreciate the value of their learning and work in the context of the real world. Providing students opportunities to interact with community partners gives them a sense of what it means to be active, engaged citizens, who are able to participate in and contribute positively to their local community and to the global society.

How is global engagement connected to global competence?

As students develop the core concepts, skills, values, attitudes, and behaviors of global competence, they gain a greater understanding of and appreciation for how each individual affects and is affected by the problems and issues that face our global society. As a result, students become more concerned, passionate, and motivated to become globally engaged and make a difference. Global engagement, in turn, fosters the development of openness, humility, self-awareness, empathy, adaptability, collaboration, problem-solving, reflection, and so on. In other words, greater global competence. Global engagement is key to the development of global competence, because rather than simply preparing students to become global citizens in the distant future, it gives them the opportunity to think and act as global citizens today (See the Resources section for more information).

Suggested Implementation Strategies

  1. Identify community resources relevant to the global topic or issue students will be exploring; network with colleagues, students, and the parent community to find and connect with potential community partners
    1. Groups or individuals who have perspectives or expertise to share with students
    2. Businesses, civic associations, and nonprofit organizations involved in work related to the global topic/issue being studied
  2. Determine how best to involve the community member(s) or local site(s) you’ve selected to meet the learning objectives for students
  3. Make contacts and form partnerships as needed; make arrangements for community members to visit your classroom and/or take students out into the community
  4. As the learning experience concludes, engage students in a reflective debrief about the value of community-based learning and how this contributed to their global engagement
    1. Have students produce individually written reflections
    2. Facilitate a whole-class discussion

*For more on using case studies, see the “Case Studies for Analyzing Multiple Perspectives” micro-credential in the Global Competence: Perspectives and Empathy stack.

**Note: Global experts can be brought into the classroom using video-conferencing and other technologies. See the “Communication for Global Action Using Technology” micro-credential in the Global Competence: Action and Engagement stack.

***For information on Knowledge to Action projects, see the “Knowledge to Action Projects” micro-credential in the Global Competence: Action and Engagement stack.

Research & Resources

Supporting Research

Community-based learning experiences exemplify several best-practice strategies. They are experiential, holistic, authentic, constructivist, reflective, and collaborative (Zemelman, Daniels, and Hyde, 2005). They provide real-world applications for learning, which motivates and engages students (Marzano and Pickering, 2011). CBLEs inspire and motivate students by using personal, firsthand experiences and familiar, accessible examples to make the curriculum more personally meaningful and relevant (Blank, Melaville, and Shah, 2003).

Community-based learning helps students build a sense of connection to their communities while also developing academic knowledge and skills to understand and take action on the issues they encounter in the real world (Melaville, Berg, and Bank, 2006). Research shows that students are more likely to retain and transfer knowledge when given opportunities to apply what they are learning to real-world issues and assess their performance in ways that suit their personal learning styles (Urdan and Klein, 1998).


Global competence refers to the knowledge, skills, and dispositions individuals need to be successful in today's interconnected world and to be fully engaged in and act on issues of global significance. The Global Competence Task Force defined globally competent individuals as "those who use their knowledge and skills to investigate the world beyond their immediate environment, recognize their own and others' perspectives, communicate their ideas effectively with diverse audiences, and translate their ideas into appropriate actions" (see link below).

Example Global Competence Frameworks

  • The Global competence matrix was created through a collaboration between World Savvy, Teachers College, Columbia University, and the Asia Society. The matrix identifies components of global competence, which assists educators as they foster global competence in themselves and develop it in their students.
  • Global Competencies: 21st Century Skills Applied to the World was developed by the Global Competence Task Force, formed and led by the Council of Chief State School Officers' EdSteps Initiative and the Asia Society Partnership for Global Learning

Community Learning and Partnership Resources

  • The Let Students Lead: Guidebook on How Local Investigations Drive Democratic and Global Learning from VIF International Education supports the idea of using local community learning experiences to drive global learning

Service Learning Resources

  • The National Youth Leadership Council website offers professional development opportunities and resources for educators interested in service learning.
  • And the K-12 Service Learning Standards for Quality Practice outlines clear guidelines for designing and assessing meaningful service-learning experiences.

Submission Requirements

Submission Guidelines & Evaluation Criteria

The items in this following section detail what must be submitted for evaluation. To earn this micro-credential, you must receive a passing evaluation for Parts 1 and 3 and a “Yes” for Part 2.

Part 1. Overview Questions

(500-word limit total):

  • What were your goals and expectations for engaging students in the community-based learning experience? How did you plan and prepare for facilitating this kind of learning experience with students?
  • What did you observe during the process? Please describe what you observed about your students’ participation in the community learning experience as well as your own role in supporting the students’ learning.

Part 2. Work Examples/Artifacts

Please submit a video or audio recording of students participating in the reflective debrief at the end of the community learning experience (maximum length: three minutes) OR written reflections from three to five different students that demonstrate how the community learning experience helped them engage globally (maximum length: three pages).

Part 3. Reflection

(750-word limit total):

  • What did you learn from your experience planning and facilitating the community-based learning experience? How did you engage students globally through the use of this method?
  • What did you learn from your own observations as well as the insights students shared in the reflective debrief and in their individual written reflections?
  • Given what you’ve learned, what will you do the next time you implement a community learning experience to help students engage globally? Please include things you will do the same and differently in the future.

Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under:
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)


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