Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Citizen Scholar Certificate

I met with Val Werpetinski this afternoon to begin my application for the "Citizen Scholar Certificate" offered through the UIUC Center for Teaching Excellence. She has put together a certificate program that is thorough and useful--a real service to all on the UIUC campus who are currently using community-based learning in their teaching or want guidance on how to do that.

It is thorough because you need to offer documentation of your work and reflective essays in five categories: teaching experience with CBL, original CBL work, exploration of pedagogy, engaged service/outreach research and contribution to a community of practice.

It's useful for several reasons.

For me, it was a very nice way to put together "a package" reflecting the work that I have accumulated over several years doing Spanish community-based learning when there really weren't any models to follow. I will put this together as a portfolio so that I can have a tangible product to document that body of work--to remind myself and to show others.

For some instructors who haven't accumulated a body of work yet, this certificate can be a clear and intelligent guide on how to become a true "citizen scholar." I have often lamented the fact that there are no mentors that I am aware of in Spanish community-based learning whose path you can "imitate" or whose guidance you can depend upon. It's too new. It doesn't "fit" into Spanish departments' idea of research. Yet. And I suppose that is the case in other fields as well. Val's certificate is a "mentor-in-a-checklist."

It's not easy to complete all the necessary steps. It requires work and reflection. That makes it worth doing.

Thanks for putting this together, Val.

If you are at UIUC and want to do the certificate, contact Val at

If you're at another institution, I'm sure Val would be happy to give you information on the certificate and her experience implementing it.

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