Core Curriculum

Engaged Learning Requirement

As approved by the Faculty Senate in 2017, in fall 2019 USM implemented a new core requirement, Engaged Learning. The Engaged Learning Requirement ensures that all USM students have the opportunity to bring theory to practice by applying their knowledge, skills, and abilities in contexts beyond the traditional classroom - whether application occurs in the community, the laboratory, the concert hall, or other venues. Engaged learning requires sustained and focused application, reflection, and collaboration. It focuses on activities, issues, and questions that extend beyond the university, and may address community-identified needs or concerns. Communities may be campus-based, local, regional, national, or international.

Course Characteristics

Engaged Learning courses require sustained, applied, and collaborative learning beyond the traditional classroom and beyond a single, isolated assignment. Students are required to reflect critically about their conceptual and theoretical knowledge. Collaboration may involve participants within and/or beyond the university. Engaged Learning courses place sustained student practice and engagement at the center of course pedagogy. USM already offers over 300 courses which are appropriate for this designation, including 100+ service learning courses, 50+ internship courses, 50+ courses listed in Maine Street as involving a clinical or practicum, and dozens of additional courses across the colleges which involve sustained applied learning.

Learning Outcomes  

Students who complete the University’s Engaged Learning Requirement will

  1. Apply their theoretical and conceptual knowledge to a substantial, sustained, and collaborative project or activity.  
  2. Situate the engaged learning experience in historical, cultural, technological, or other contexts.
  3. Effectively listen to, collaborate and communicate with participants in the engaged learning experience.
  4. Demonstrate self-directed learning through a substantial, sustained, and collaborative project or activity.
  5. Critically reflect on their theoretical and conceptual knowledge as a result of the engaged learning experience.  

Engaged Learning Courses

What does an Engaged Learning course look like?
Courses that are likely to engage students in the learning outcomes include: service learning courses, internship courses, applied and field research courses involving a sustained project or focus, practicums, clinical courses, professional field work courses, and performance, studio and other visual/creative arts courses involving a substantial project, performances, exhibitions, etc.

Requirement Criteria
The criteria for designation as an engaged learning course are:

  1. Must meet the Engaged Learning outcomes.
  2. Course credit hours are variable.
  3. Adheres to Core Curriculum Policies, including the expectation that Core courses may not normally be taken pass/fail. 
    Exceptions to the Pass/Fail policy will be considered by the Core Curriculum Committee on a course-by course basis to accommodate engaged learning courses graded P/F for compelling pedagogical or other reasons.


  1. Overlaps between this requirement and other Core requirements are permitted.
  2. Overlaps between this requirement designation and major requirements are permitted.
    *This requirement need not add to the overall credit footprint of the Core.
  3. Courses offered with the designation may be at any level as long as they engage students in the outcomes.

Courses with an isolated or short-term applied learning experience (e.g., a single unit or assignment) are not likely to be eligible as they are not likely to directly address the learning outcomes.


The Engaged Learning requirement took effect in fall 2019.  The requirement was implemented through course identification and approval, Maine Street programming, university catalog revision and updating, communications, and transfer and articulation.

  1. Course Identification: Academic programs approved course lists provided by the Assistant Provost; lists include internship, service learning, clinical, practicum, field experience, performance, and related courses.  Programs were invited to add to the list courses that they feel engage the outcomes.
  2. Course Approval: Faculty do not have to submit proposals to have appropriate courses included in the designation. 
  3. Assessment: Programs offering courses included in the requirement commit to participating in regular assessment. Course syllabi will identify the course as an Engaged Learning course and will include the Engaged Learning outcomes. Course syllabi will be shared with the Core Curriculum Committee.  In addition, faculty teaching Engaged Learning courses will assist with identifying appropriate strategies for assessing student engagement with the Engaged Learning Outcomes. As with other Core Curriculum requirements, assessment of the Engaged Learning requirement will consist of both direct and indirect assessment. Indirect assessment may rely on existing data collected for similar purposes (e.g., National Survey of Student Engagement/NSSE, Graduating Senior Survey, Community Engagement Reports, Service Learning Reports, etc.). Direct assessment approaches will be determined collaboratively by the Core Curriculum Committee and the faculty members teaching the courses, with support of the Assistant Provost and the Director of Academic Assessment.  Assessment of courses in the requirement will not place any additional primary assessment responsibility or burden on the offering departments.