Beyond the classroom!

Community Engaged Learning involves fostering mutually beneficial partnerships that enhance student learning, address societal concerns, and improve quality of life by co-creating partnerships that meet community needs.

What is Community Engaged Learning (CEL)?

Community Engaged Learning (CEL) is a classroom to community relationship that involves Academically-based community engaged courses where student learning takes place in partnership with a community organization/business. The student has course content related reflection and/or faculty mentorship that enhances student learning while also providing a service to the partnering agency. There are two types of Community Engaged Learning: Community Engagement in Research & Scholarship and Community Engagement in Teaching & Learning.

Teaching & Learning                  Research & Scholarship

Why teach Community Engaged Learning courses?

Instructors across a wide variety of disciplines at UWL actively design course content around community-based activities. Most instructors use a combination of community opportunities within courses and/or in independent projects with undergraduates or graduate students. Community Engaged Learning experiences are considered high-impact practices and are linked to higher student satisfaction and retention—particularly when they occur early in a student's college career. In addition:

  • Collaborating with community partners allows instructors to provide an authentic experience to students.
  • Collaborations can contribute to scholarly outcomes and provide service opportunities.
  • Collaborations show stakeholders outside of the university how instructors are engaged beyond the classroom, using their skills and expertise to benefit the wider community.
  • Collaborations lead to strong student outcomes such as understanding the construction of knowledge, having the ability to carry out data analysis and scientific writing, and understanding the use of evidence to support hypotheses and assertions.

What are the criteria for a Community Engaged Learning designation?

What is the process for a Community Engaged Learning designation?

Receiving a CEL attribute on a class/course in WINGS requires two steps:

Step one expanding section

Step 1: Fill out the Community Engaged Learning (CEL) Course Proposal in Qualtrics. Forms filled out by February 1st, will be eligible for a CEL course attribute in WINGS at the start of fall registration. Forms filled out by September 1st, will be eligible for a CEL course attribute in WINGS at the start of spring registration.

Unless your course/class is a pilot, you only need to fill out this form once to receive an attribute on your course/class in WINGS. You will be notified by the Community Engagement Council if your course/class is approved.

The Community Engaged Learning Designation Proposal Form is reviewed by the Community Engagement Council and will ensure the course meets at least one Eagle Advantage competency SLO and provides an opportunity for students to engage in a High Impact Practice (HIP) with a community partner through a mutually beneficial relationship for a minimum of 15 hours. 

Step two expanding section

Step 2: Once your Community Engaged Learning Designation Proposal Form has been accepted, fill out and submit the Community Engaged Learning Project Plan before the start of the semester (preferred). However, in some cases, before the start of the project may be allowed if all criteria can be met.

The Project Plan asks your community partner three yes/no questions and requires their signature. A completed copy of the Community Engaged Learning Project Plan will be emailed to you and your community partner.

The Community Engaged Learning Project Plan will ensure a well-coordinated and communicated project for all participants with decided upon goals and outcomes.

A new Community Engaged Learning Project Plan will need to be filled out and submitted before the start of each semester.

How to track Community Engaged Learning in Digital Measures?

There are multiple ways to document Community Engaged Learning (CEL) in Digital Measures. Below is a list and explanation of each form of documentation. Faculty should document each CEL course in each of these ways for the purposes of retention, tenure and promotion.

Teaching schedule expanding section

The Teaching Schedule is located on your Main Activities page. Here you can describe Community Engaged Learning -content classes during specific semesters as a high impact practice:

Teaching schedule

Select the correct course from the list and then describe the CEL in the “high impact practices” text box:

Edit teaching schedule

Personnel review/promotion materials management expanding section

The Personnel Review/Promotion Materials Management is on your Main Activities page:

Personnel material

Select the appropriate link depending on whether you are up for retention, tenure or promotion and “Add New Item” for the current Academic Year. This is the form where you can describe your Community Engaged Learning efforts and upload supporting documentation as a Teaching Appendix that will be linked in your Digital Measures Personnel Report.

Teaching appendicies

Retention, tenure and promotion narratives expanding section

Highlighting a High Impact Practice like Community Engaged Learning in your Retention, Tenure and Promotion Narrative can strengthen your portfolio. So, in addition to documenting your Community Engaged Learning in your Teaching Schedule and Personnel Review/Promotion Materials Management, be sure to discuss it in your narratives for retention, tenure and promotion that you upload into the Retention/Tenure/Promotion item created in Personnel Review/Promotion Materials Management.


Community Engaged Learning resources

Contact us!

Lisa Klein, Community Engagement Coordinator


Visit us!

UWL Office of Community Engagement
Cleary Alumni & Friends Center, Room 104
1725 State Street
La Crosse, WI 54601