Community-based learning enhances student learning by bringing the community into the school and by placing students in the community as part of their studies. When the community provides context for learning, the authentic experiences engage students academically, combining real-world relevance with intellectual rigor, while promoting citizenship and preparing them to respect and live well in any community they choose.
Students benefit from the expertise, talent, and resources of community-based service agencies, business, citizen groups, entrepreneurs, families, industry, and organizations. They gain opportunities to apply and enhance, in tangible contexts, knowledge, skills, and attitudes acquired through their work in school. Community-based learning enhances students’ personal development, their sense of belonging to their community, and their understanding of community roles and responsibilities. Community-based experiences also help students develop skills described in the Conference Board of Canada’s Employability Skills 2000+ (2000), including fundamental, personal management, and teamwork skills; specific career, occupation, and job skills; and labour market knowledge and understanding.
Often Community-based learning is associated with programs such as Options and Opportunities and Skilled Trades or courses such as Cooperative Education – in reality Community-based learning experiences can take place at elementary, junior high, and senior high school. Guest speakers, field trips, tours, job shadowing, workshops, simulations, cooperative education placements, service learning and volunteering are all examples of Community-based learning.