Community-Based Learning

Community-Based Learning

Students experiencing trades training

Community-based learning enhances student learning by bringing the community into the school and by placing students in the community as part of their studies. When the community provides context for learning, the authentic experiences engage students academically, combining real-world relevance with intellectual rigor, while promoting citizenship and preparing them to respect and live well in any community they choose.

Students benefit from the expertise, talent, and resources of community-based service agencies, business, citizen groups, entrepreneurs, families, industry, and organizations. They gain opportunities to apply and enhance, in tangible contexts, knowledge, skills, and attitudes acquired through their work in school. Community-based learning enhances students’ personal development, their sense of belonging to their community, and their understanding of community roles and responsibilities. Community-based experiences also help students develop skills described in the Conference Board of Canada’s Employability Skills (2000), including fundamental, personal management, and teamwork skills; specific career, occupation, and job skills; and labour market knowledge and understanding.

Often community-based learning is associated with programs such as Options and Opportunities (O2) and Skilled Trades, or courses such as Cooperative Education – in reality community-based learning experiences can take place at elementary, junior high, and senior high school. Guest speakers, field trips, tours, job shadowing, workshops, simulations, cooperative education placements, service learning and volunteering are all examples of community-based learning.

Cooperative Education courses are offered in 15 high schools in HRCE.

Cooperative Education helps students gain awareness and knowledge of career preparation, planning, and exploration. Cooperative Education prepares students to engage in employment and enables them to appreciate the skills, knowledge, and attitudes they currently possess; the skills, knowledge, and attitudes employers seek; and help them to identify and develop the key skills, knowledge, and attitudes necessary to a successful transition from school to the world of work or further study.

To participate in a Cooperative Education community-based placement, a student must be 16 years of age OR 15 years old and enrolled in grade 11, and be socially ready for the independent nature of community placements. The decision on whether the student participates is the responsibility of the school. Risk management and due diligence must be practiced when making all decisions about putting a student in a Cooperative Education placement.

Students interested in taking Cooperative Education courses need to consult with the teacher responsible for delivering this course in their school. An application and an interview are required as outlined in the Community-Based Learning Policy for schools.

To visit Cooperative Education at the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, click here.

Some students learn better by doing, experimenting and practicing. Students enrolled in the Options and Opportunities Program, better known as O2, are able to do this by being engaged through active learning in their school as well as their community.

O2 is a three year program designed to help students work toward a career or occupation in learning contexts that respond to their learning needs, providing linkages to the workplace and other post-secondary destinations. Through a range of authentic learning experiences and an integrated career education approach, students in O2 are able to make connections with career pathways and make more informed decisions about what they want to do after high school.

Some of the career pathways and programs explored by O2 students: 

  • Trades and Technologies
  • Business and Education
  • Health and Human Services
  • Hospitality and Tourism
  • Arts, Culture, and Recreation
  • Information Technology (IT)
  • Law Enforcement and Military

To visit Options and Opportunities at the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, click here.