Beyond the classroom!

Community Engagement 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 Community Engaged Learning designation?

Faculty interested in having a class(s)/course(s) designated as CEL should ensure that the class(s)/course(s) meets both of the following elements:

  • All CEL classes/courses must have a syllabus that includes a Student Learning Outcome(s) (SLO)(s) aligned with at least one Eagle Advantage Competency.
  • All CEL classes/courses must involve 15 hours of engagement with/for the community, as well as at least one reflection piece on the engagement that is tied to graded course material. The reflection piece can be an assignment, a paper, a quiz, a test, etc.

Criteria Details

What is the process for Community Engaged Learning designation?

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

Community Engaged Learning designation proposal form expanding section

Step 1: Fill out the Community Engaged Learning Designation Proposal Form in Qualtrics. You will be notified by the Community Engagement Council if you are eligible to move on to step 2.

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. 


Community Engaged Learning project plan expanding section

Step 2: Once your Community Engaged Learning Designation Proposal Form has been accepted, fill out the Community Engaged Learning Project Plan which asks your community partner three yes or no questions and requires their signature.

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

Is a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) necessary for your partnership?

Where to find partnerships and other partnership resources?

How to track Community Engaged Learning in Digital Measures?

There are multiple ways to document CEL in Digital Measures. Here is a list and explanation of each form of documentation. You 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 CEL -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 CEL 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 a CEL in your Retention, Tenure and Promotion Narrative can strengthen your portfolio. So, in addition to documenting your CEL 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.


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