Experiential learning the focus of first-ever REAL poster session

More than 50 research posters highlighting unique VCU experiential learning activities decorated the Seminar Rooms of Grace and Broad Residence Center 2 at the inaugural Doing REAL poster session on April 5.

The event โ€” co-hosted by the REAL initiative, The Honors College and the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program โ€” brought together units across campus to showcase just a sample of the hands-on opportunities available to students at VCU.

"We are absolutely thrilled with the turnout for our first-ever poster session," Erin Webster Garrett, assistant vice provost for REAL, said. "This was an event we put together based off feedback from the VCU community โ€” we heard loud and clear faculty and staff asking for more opportunities for collaboration, and I think the participation in this event illustrated the enthusiasm for that."

Posters displayed at the events covered a wide range of academic activities, both curricular and co-curricular. Faculty and staff shared resources, best practices and lessons learned at the event, while students could identify programs and projects of interest to them for future semesters.

Topics included an expedition style class on the James River, 3-D imaging with the Virtual Creation Laboratory, addressing public school needs with RTR's teacher residency program, and inclusive fitness and health programs for underserved populations, among many others.

"It was incredible to see all the great projects already happening at VCU, and to hear all the dialogue and collaboration happening between presenters and attendees," Webster Garrett said. "That's what we believe REAL should be about: a common thread that brings together all the fantastic work happening in our units."

All told, more than 160 faculty, staff and students attended the poster session, which Webster Garrett hopes will become an annual event.

"We're certainly looking at the possibility of having another REAL poster session again next year," Webster Garrett said. "Though we may need a bigger space!"

Survey questions and responses

At the Doing REAL poster session, attendees were asked a pair of survey questions about what their perceptions about REAL. The responses to those questions were then converted to word clouds, which are displayed below:

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