Experiential Learning Primer


Community Service Learning is a form of Experiential Learning where students contribute to their community by participating in professor-approved community service placements related to course learning objectives. Typically, students complete 30 hours of work and a reflective assignment.

Community Service Learning is an important form of learning which allows students to solve “real-world” problems rather than just theoretical exercises. This allows them to apply their skills and explore their understanding of topics, all while offer valuable service to the community.



The Ontario Government creates Strategic Mandate Agreements (SMA) with every post-secondary institution in the Province. These SMAs are the basis of funding for institutions. Between 2020 and 2025, funding for Ontario Institutions is moving from an enrollment-based model to a student and economic outcomes model. 

Institutions will be incentivized to offer more experiential learning opportunities that help students achieve employment in their field of study after graduation. By offering more experiences for students to learn, we increase their ability to find employment after graduation.



The University of Ottawa is working on strategies to increase the amount of Experiential Learning opportunities on campus. Some programs integrate experiential learning as a core component of the learning experience (such as practicums for teaching assistants, journaling for lawyers, residencies in medical school) and others ask students to complete some volunteering related to the field before graduation.

The Michaëlle Jean Centre for Global and Community Engagement (CGCE) is a service on campus that supports Community Service Learning and volunteering. The employees of the service help bring together community members that have a need for volunteers and professors who can support that work through their courses. Upon graduation, students who have participated in the program are presented with a co-curricular record that highlights their contributions and skills learned.

The University of Ottawa is also exploring new ways to help students acquire the most desired employability skills. Career Services offers a variety of tools (including career counselling and career fairs) to help students prepare for the employment market. Nevertheless, hands on experience is still one of the best ways to learn new skills.



There are many ways to support Community Service Learning on campus.

Professors can contact the CGCE and allow their students to participate in the program as part of their class assignments.

  • The CGCE offers a variety of tools to make it easy to incorporate CSL into your course.
  • Placement officers will come to your course to help promote the program and get your students signed up.
  • Placement officers can help complete administrative tasks related to recording data and tracking students.


Services can act as community members, offering real-world problems for the student to solve, while providing advice and guidance.

  • The CGCE can help your office connect you with professors to develop your project.
  • The Office of Campus Sustainability can help you find sustainability related CSL projects.
  • Students can help your office create marketing plans, conduct surveys, create videos, and a bunch of other things that can help your office achieve its goals.
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