We train, support, and fund Community Connected Project Assistants (CCPAs) to provide instructional and logistical support for students executing community-based projects developed by faculty and community partners.
Applications for the Spring 2023 PA program due November 18th!
Benefits to Students
The positive learning potentials of community-connected learning (CCL) require highly collaborative leadership by those in instructional roles, reflective processes for students that allow for meaning-making and connections to other learning experiences and knowledge of social structures, and the support of students’ development of civic competencies and leadership skills.
Community Connected Project Assistant (CCPA) Program
Community-connected learning (CCL) requires additional support for community partnership relationships and logistics, and awareness of best practices for working with diverse others. Each semester the CCE trains and supports a cohort of Community Connected Project Assistants (CCPAs) who work with faculty to implement quality community-connected learning courses.
Trained PAs expand the feasibility and sustainability of CCPA for faculty, and allow more Middlebury College students to experience the impactful pedagogy. If you are interested in participating in this program find out more and apply online for a PA.
We view this Project Assistant (PA) Training Program as a strategy for CCL expansion and success. The availability of trained and supported PAs will enable more faculty to implement CCL effectively and sustainably. PAs can help provide instructional and logistical support for the students executing projects developed by faculty and community partners.
The training program for student project assistants to support faculty in leading CCL courses takes place prior to the start of the courses’ semester (J-Term for Spring, Summer for Fall). Faculty accepted to participate in the PA program commit to 1) one cohort meeting with CCE staff and PAs in advance of the semester, 2) share a draft syllabus with CCE staff a month before the semester begins and 3) two training meetings with your PA prior to the start of the course. Timing and frequency of meetings with your PA during term will be mutually determined at the beginning of the term (usually once per week).
Faculty who are interested in having PA support for their PBL course in Spring 2023 should complete this application form by November 18, 2022.
The CCE is a partner in campus efforts to support Project-Based Learning as a high-impact pedagogy. For the Spring 2023 semester, we continue our collaboration with the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Research to train a cohort of Project-Based Learning (PBL) Project Assistants that will allow all faculty to obtain this needed support for not only projects with external community-partnerships but also those including public products, a core component of all PBL courses.
For more Middlebury College-specific resources for faculty, visit the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Research.
PAs have six hours/week to support a course (assuming standard spring term).
Each course will have a customized PA job description that the faculty member will propose during the application process requesting a PA and then refine through conversations with their PA.
Examples of the type of work and facilitation a PA could lead include:
- Provide an introductory overview of the principles of PBL to course participants
- Facilitate team selection and team building with project groups
- Lead project group discussions about power dynamics
- Introduce and maintain project management tools
- Manage community partner communication tools with project groups
- Manage logistics of transportation if the project site requires
- Implement proper risk management procedures needed for community partnership work (in consultation with CCE)
- Contribute feedback on student work (written reflections, peer- and self-assessments, community partner deliverables, final presentation)
All PAs will be trained in six foundational areas
1. Goals and Principles of PBL
2. Relationship-building (between PAs and faculty, with community partners, etc.)
3. Team Building
4. Project Management
5. Liberal Arts Skills for the Public Good
6. Navigating the Institution (i.e. who can help PAs support your students in their project work)
More specialized training sessions would follow, depending upon the needs of the instructor and the project they are envisioning. PAs would, in consultation with their faculty member, choose these more customized training sessions to suit the particular project being developed. Each faculty member would complete a faculty inventory in advance, so that the training team could determine which special sessions would be needed.
Q What are some specific examples of skills, competencies and objectives that will be covered in their training, and that they will be able to bring to assisting me in my course?
Here are some examples of some of the learning objectives, competencies and themes our training modules will cover:
- Developing shared expectations
- Implementing community partnership best practices
- What is reciprocity and what does it look like in practice?
- Developing shared understanding of commitments between and among students and community partners
- Contributing to clear, reliable communication
- Bringing awareness of power dynamics across different groups
- Discussing key dispositions of community-engaged learners: open-mindedness, cultural humility , appreciation of community cultural wealth, curiosity, empathy, commitment
- Supporting team development within student and community groups
- Identifying goals, challenges, and strategies for collaborative work
- Holding the question: “What is ‘adequate understanding’ of the communities with which one is working”?
- Assigning group roles based on individual strengths and learning goals
- Addressing problem solving and conflicts productively
- Consistently communicating about group dynamics
- Managing logistics of projects using effective project management tools
- Developing shared work plan, timeline, and accountability systems
- Supporting transportation, risk management, and funding
- Supporting sharing of deliverables (in person, electronically, etc.)
- Creating reflective spaces for meaning-making
- Leading discussions connecting learning and experiences
- Responding to written critical analyses/reflections
- Leading online asynchronous and synchronous reflections (if needed)