Described in this article is how sport management curricula can offer unique, real-world learning experiences and corresponding student learning gains, when grounded in community based learning (CBL). To achieve these ends, this study was designed to explore how to best execute CBL in sport management, informed, in part, by analyzing the lived experiences of students who were required to develop their understanding of community needs and resources, as well as devise and execute plans to meet these needs, in order to successfully complete the course. Students’ structured reflections of their discipline-specific CBL course and changes-in-self were assessed using rigorous qualitative analysis to detect emergent themes. Results indicated students’ self-reported professional, interpersonal, and intrapersonal gains in in relation to how the course was taught/specific pedagogical practices. Competencies subsumed within these categories included learning how to effectively fundraise, learning to negotiate the challenges of group work and team dynamics, cultivating critical thinking and leadership skills, and cultivating self-as-professional. These data inform how to derive the unique impacts of service learning in sport, including the opportunities it presents for students to cultivate professional skills often reported to be under cultivated among recent graduates. Thus, results of this study fill a gap in the literature regarding how to foster student preparedness for “real world” experiences, and serve as model of how faculty and administrators can successfully integrate CBL in experiential sport management coursework.
Keywords: Community-Based Learning (CBL); Sport Management; high-impact practices; fundraising; cultivating pre- professional skills in CBL coursework Experience That Matters – Community Based Learning and Sport Management