Frequently Asked Questions


General information

The value of Community Based Learning

Assignments and logistics

 ccel     ccel

What is Community Based Learning (CBL)?
Community Based Learning is a learning experience that combines service to the community with structured
preparation and reflection opportunities. CBL opportunities connect to academic coursework and address
concerns that are identified and articulated by the community. As students engage in CBL, they learn
about the context in which service is provided, the connection between their service and their academic
coursework, and their roles as community members.

How does CBL work at Marist?
Each semester, faculty from disciplines across campus decide to integrate community-based teaching practices
into their courses. There are a variety of ways that CBL is taught, but in general CBL has the following components:

  • Students make a commitment to the organization, and to thoughtfully integrate their experiences in the
    community with classroom work.
  • Community-based organizations provide a structured learning experience for the student.
  • Faculty members assist students in thoughtfully integrating their community experiences into course
    assignments and discussions.
  • The CBL opportunity usually culminates in a reflective paper or related project, demonstrating the
    student’s understanding of classroom theories applied to community involvement.

Which departments offer CBL courses?
There are many opportunities for students to take a community based learning course.  Each semester there are a several courses offered in departments across campus, from English, Philosophy and History to Sociology, Public Relations, Education and Computer Science.  Our complete roster of course offerings is updated each semester, so you can refer to our website before you register!

What are the benefits of community-based learning?

  • First-hand experience with economic, social, cultural, and political contexts that shape concepts
    addressed in coursework.
  • Greater depth of understanding by connecting course work to the issues and concerns in the
  • Opportunities to learn from community leaders and practitioners.
  • Opportunities to contribute to the mission and/or purpose of an organization through service.
  • Understanding how the non-profit, government or educational sector functions.

I want to keep working with my organization after the semester. Is this okay?
If you are interested in continuing to work with your CBL organization after the semester’s end, discuss with
your site supervisor the details of continued volunteering. If you need additional assistance, the Center staff are
available to assist you. The Center is located in Fontaine 201 and we can also be reached at
or 845-575-2914.

Can I earn extra credit for completing CBL?
Typically, students earn credit for completing CBL assignments, but each course is different.  You should find the
details for your CBL commitment and assignments in your syllabus; again, if you are unsure, ask your professor
about this.

Can I earn priority points for completing a CBL assignment?
No, because the CBL is integrated into your coursework. Students do not earn additional credit for completing
CBL but demonstrate their learning through various course assignments. In some classes, CBL is offered as an
alternative to other assignments.

Are background checks required for participating in CBL?
Some CBL sites require background checks and/or fingerprinting. These requirements will be explained
during orientation sessions. 

Can I switch my CBL assignment?
This is something that you should discuss with your professor. Except in the case of significant difficulties,
the CCEL discourages students from changing their CBL site after they have begun their service.

How many hours are needed to successfully complete my CBL commitment?
Every class is different and the CBL activities will be organized to maximize learning opportunities. You should be
able to find the details for your commitment in your syllabus. If you are unsure, talk to your professor.

If I am having problems or concerns regarding my CBL assignment, whom should I contact?
Be in touch with your site supervisor or faculty member with questions or concerns about your CBL experience.
If you need additional assistance, the Center staff are available to assist you. The Center is located in Fontaine
201 and we can also be reached at or 845-575-2914.