Impact of Community Engagement at Pitzer
Our primary goal in our Institutional Strategic Plan is to promote local and global community engagement to enhance students’ learning by strengthening and expanding opportunities for meaningful, academically-grounded community engagement. We hold high expectations for Pitzer students to be able to understand and assess issues from multiple perspectives, while learning how to engage in applicable solutions in our multiple communities. According to research, community engagement can positively influence college students’ civic attitudes, confidence, competency and self-efficacy.
Taken from our Center’s plan, key components to our process are reflections and forms of engagement, assessing ways to improve and adapt our programs with a social justice framework.
Measuring our development
This profound interest has encouraged a strong commitment to community partnerships and has cultivated a commitment to relationships. These values of community engagement continue to inspire our Pitzer alumni as many enter the public sector.
In order to assess these affects we conduct regular assessments with our community partners and evaluate satisfaction with our programs and to identify areas for improvement. In addition, our staff acts as principal liaisons to our core partner sites, enabling constant presence, communication, and assessment of the partnerships on a weekly basis for our core sites.
Engagement Opportunities have profound impact on our students
In the results of the Spring 2010 Internship Outtake survey, it was found that as a result of their service learning class and community-based internship:
- Community engagement enhances student learning. Slightly more than 80% of respondents indicated that their internship experience enhanced their classroom learning.
- Community-based education enhances students’ skills in such areas as putting theory into practice, understanding ethical issues, and recognizing community needs and assets. Students reported growth along each of the six learning objectives included in the survey.
- Community engagement increases students’ confidence in their ability to contribute to meaningful change. Upon completion of their service learning class and/or internship, 83% of students reported growth in both their ability to apply theories to real-life community issues and their ability to put social responsibility into action.
- Students make the greatest gains in learning when coursework is combined with community engagement. Overwhelmingly, students attributed their development in critical areas of learning to both their internship and service-learning class.
2009 Senior Survey undergraduate experience:
- Nearly 77% of students reported that their ability to apply critical theory to address community needs was enhanced moderately or greatly
- Nearly 89% of students reported that their awareness of own perceptions, biases, and assumptions was enhanced moderately or greatly
- 84% of students reported that their capacity to recognize and value the assets and strengths of communities was enhanced moderately or greatly
- Nearly 74% of students reported that their capacity to use ethical practices in community-based research was enhanced moderately or greatly
- 90% of students reported that their capacity to express empathy was enhanced moderately or greatly
At CEC, we have focused on 3 areas of engagement for faculty: faculty- student relations, faculty-community relations, faculty-college relations.
Some of these results indicate that community engagement has helped strengthen student-faculty relationships and engage traditionally uninvolved students with the community. Furthermore, faculty have identified institutional need for greater support at the institution’s policy level that value service-learning. Further recommendations suggested that more opportunities to develop skills for community-based teaching and research are needed for faculty.
As seen in the chart above, here at CEC we have cultivated a variety of partnerships with existing community organizations. These programs allow students the opportunity to develop in their academic, personal and professional growth. Likewise organizations are able to build their capacity, act as mentors to students and gain innovative ideas from students.