Community-Based Learning Program aims to add experiential learning to classrooms

Marshall University’s Community-Based Learning Program is an experiential learning program to incorporate active learning in the classroom.

The director of the Community-Based Learning Program, Damien Arthur, said he has a specific way of overseeing community-based learning.

“Community-based learning is a mechanism by which the university pedagogical mission is enhanced,” Arthur said. “Essentially that means that a class wherein all learning is passive, and memorization and library research doesn’t create an environment wherein students can reach their full learning potential.”

Incorporating community-based learning into classrooms provides students with opportunities for active learning, Arthur said, and it is a way to connect theory and practice.

Community-based learning is transformative with students and the community.  The program can be a semester long or a period within a semester.

“It helps to expose them to things that they wouldn’t necessarily be exposed to,” Arthur said. “It’s supposed to enable students to participate in a high impact practice and allows them to have part of their course not just be passive.”

The community-based learning program faculty must go through training workshops. Once the three workshops are completed, professors may offer any class on campus that can be a community-based learning class.

“The faculty are able to have a lot of control over what that community-based learning class looks like,” Arthur said. “When I teach them, I incorporate the entire class into this experiential learning component.”

Within the classroom, the students have to reflect and have an academically relevant project. Students are required to have a certain amount of contact hours with the community or a partner. In the end, there is expected to be a learning outcome students fulfill.

Taylor Huddleston can be contacted at [email protected]