Engaged Learning is a hands-on type of learning that utilizes partnerships with agencies, organizations and whole communities outside of the classroom to help students apply the material they are learning in the classroom, according to Kim-Anne Perkins, chair of the Center for University Programs, which oversees the University's Engaged Learning Center.
Engaged Learning can take many forms, although it must always include an assessment of student performance. It can be a service learning project, an experiential learning field trip, or even a project that evolves over the course of several semesters. Two examples of past Engaged Learning projects are Management Information System students who created a new web page for a community organization and History students who helped a local historian to gather information and publish a book on Presque Isle's past.
"The purpose behind Engaged Learning is to give students the chance to learn by doing and also give them a better understanding of how the things they're learning in a classroom can look when they get applied in a real-world situation in their own community... It makes what happens in the classroom more real," Perkins said. "We've made a commitment to the philosophy that learning takes place not only in the classroom but takes place external to it and that it's our responsibility to try to bring those two things together."
Engaged Learning projects have been done many times over the years, but University officials are working hard this year to raise more awareness for the effort in order to create more community partnerships and collaborations.
"The goal is to make the community more aware that this is an option so they can partner with our faculty and students," Perkins said. "We really see this as a win-win situation, so we'd love it if people would approach us. If they have an event or a project that they'd like us to do, they should contact the University so we can go over the goals of the project and try to match the project with the right group of students."