What is REAL?
REAL's mission is to answer how VCU can guarantee every student an academic experience that involves hands-on learning activities directly relevant to realizing their personal and professional goals.
To our students, its the university's promise to engage you in meaningful, hands-on work that builds both your professional and personal identity.
For our faculty and university professionals, it is a promise to support you as you create unique ways to provide these types of meaningful experiences for our students.
What REAL means in practice
REAL is not a hard reset, nor will it have a negative impact on the faculty, programs and projects already engaged in experiential learning. Instead, it’s an intentional organizing of the types of career-building and civic-minded activities that VCU already does well, providing an anchor for all the university's experiential education activities, including research, study abroad,service learning, practicum and internships.
In practice, REAL means:
- New or improved curricular elements to ensure adherence to best practices
- New or improved tracking of experiential learning across the institution
- Bringing an equity lens to experiential learning through information sharing and student exposure to tailored experiential learning opportunities
REAL does not:
- Increase student’s time to degree
- Increase student’s debt load
A wide variety of academic activities qualify as a REAL experience, many of which already occur throughout the VCU curriculum:
A collection of recent articles about REAL:
- Making reflection real: Hands-on workshop illustrates the importance of reflective pedagogy
- Experiential learning the focus of first-ever REAL poster session
- Lessons learned from the Feb. 28 REAL town hall
- Universitywide initiative to boost experience-based education gains momentum (VCU News)
- Making REAL progress: Group to guide experiential learning initiative holds first meeting
- Photo gallery from the Dec. 3 REAL Summit with Dr. Tia McNair
REAL next steps
REAL goals for the 2019-20 academic year include:
- Expand engagement: Convene an expanded REAL Council to engage and involve stakeholders in REAL, including alumni and business/industry leaders
- Map engaged learning pathways: Use the results of the Opportunity Audit to identify curricular pathways to advanced experiential learning activities and to credentialing in high demand work force areas
- Implement new IT solutions: Use the Student Opportunity Center platform's database to both connect students with opportunities and to track their engagement on a central level
- Identify a co-curriculum transcript solution: Explore the utility of digital badging for capturing, verifying, and credentialing student non-credit activities