Module 4: Moving Beyond the Classroom

Working in the Community:

Evaluating Community-Based Learning


After the learning experience is over, it's time for assessment of student learning. It will most likely be immediately apparent whether your students enjoyed the experience. It will take a little more work to find out whether it helped them meet the learning objectives you established.

There are many different methods you can use for evaluation.

Exam questions test students on factual information covered through guest speakers and field trips. Open-ended essay questions offer students an opportunity to include experiences from independent internships or service learning projects.

Papers require more in-depth thinking and will reveal more about whether students were able to connect the outside experience with concepts and skills learned in the classroom. For example, you may ask them to describe consistencies and inconsistencies between classroom learning and workplace practice.

Ask students to document their work and reflect on what they've learned. Journals are a good fit for internships or service learning projects, as the instructor can check in and monitor the students' progress over time.

Presentations require students to synthesize their experiences and explain their learning to other students. Subjects for presentations might include summarizing steps in a manufacturing process, describing factors affecting the success of an engineering design, or demonstrating statistical analysis of data collected in the field.

Whichever way you choose to structure reflection and assessment, it is important to let students know prior to the experience what type of reflection/assessment will be linked to it. This enables students to focus their effort effectively while engaging in the learning experience.

(For more information on assessment, see Module 6.)