About Community-Based Learning at Inver Hills


The mission of Community-Based Learning at Inver Hills is to involve students and faculty in a methodology that blends academic learning with community service in order to encourage civic engagement, enhance the educational process and build community through active community involvement. When participating in Community-Based Learning activities, students gain experience and acquire skills for future employment, to meet transfer admission requirements, to meet a requirement for a class, and for personal satisfaction. In addition, Community-Based Learning experiences encourage a lifelong commitment to community service, civic responsibility and learning in all members of the college family.  There are many opportunities for Community-Based Learning in the classroom, on campus, on-line, and in the larger community.


Community-Based Learning Diagram

What does Community-Based Learning LOOK like?

Community-Based Learning happens any time students enhance their classroom learning by applying the concepts and skills they’re learning in their course to a real-world context that meets a community need. There are a wide variety of possibilities that exist for Community-Based Learning collaborations between classrooms and community partners.

Community-Based Learning can be done individually or by an entire class; take the form of direct service, indirect service, research or advocacy; and occur inside or outside the classroom. Indeed, for some projects, online students may not even need to leave their computers!

The four major models of Community-Based Learning at IHCC are placement, presentation, product, and project.





Students serve at a Community Partner site throughout the semester.

A Human Services student might be a “Bridge to Benefits” screener at Eagan Resource Center. In this role, students use a 5-10 minute screening tool to develop a preview for services for which the client might be eligible (food stamps, tax benefits, free/reduced lunch, etc.). The student is gaining valuable experience working at a social services agency, which relates directly to his/her coursework, and Eagan Resource Center is gaining extra assistance so that they can serve – and better serve – more clients.


Students take the material they’re learning in class and create presentations for audiences within the community.


A Research and Writing class instructor decides upon housing and homelessness as the theme for her class. Students discuss the issues with which people are faced in Minnesota, then research information surrounding causes/problems and possible solutions. After this research, students compose letters to state representatives to articulate their concerns and invite the community to a forum at which they present their findings. This reinforces both the research and writing components of the course, as students must use the research they’ve gained to construct a sound argument that appeals to two different audiences.



Service-Learners work alone or in groups to produce a tangible product for their agencies.

A Field Experience in Archaeology class works with Dakota County Historical Society to document the site of a possible ghost town (Louiston) just north of Northfield, MN. Through this experience, students gain real-world experience in surveying, drawing maps, and documenting artifacts at an actual archeological site. The Dakota County Historical Society benefits from their work, as all of the data they collect can be archived at the museum and added to the collection to be shared with the public.


Service Learners collaborate with community members to devise and implement a project.

A Small Group Communication class chooses to work with Memorial Blood Centers for their group project. They decide that they could best help the agency by organizing a Blood Drive on campus. Group members plan, promote, and hold the blood drive in conjunction with Memorial Blood Centers, all while using – in a real-world setting – the effective small-group communication strategies they’ve been learning in their course.