Pedagogic pillars and REAL levels

Taking both nationwide research on best practices as well as the existing qualities present in the VCU learning ecosystem, four signature pedagogies have been identified with REAL activities:

  • Hands-on learning that engages the student in applying or exploring disciplinary knowledge in real-world or simulated contexts
  • Guided reflection as an intentional metacognitive practice where students articulate personal, civic/social, or academic learning; identify values and attitudes developed through the activity; and/or explore and clarify career goals
  • Mentored experiences wherein the faculty/staff member or activity supervisor responds regularly to student work, supports student reflection and integration of learning throughout the activity, and encourages goal-setting for future learning
  • Integrative learning as both a pedagogy and a measure of a student’s capacity to connect, synthesize and transfer learning to new, complex situations beyond campus 

REAL levels

The REAL levels are an indication of the degree to which individual experiential learning courses and co-curricular activities incorporate the pedagogic pillars above.

  • Level 1: A course or non-course activity that engages students in a clearly defined experiential learning activity but does not incorporate reflection
  • Level 2: A course or non-course activity that engages students in a clearly defined experiential learning activity and incorporates either guided reflection or mentoring
  • Level 3: A course or non-course activity in a clearly defined experiential learning activity that incorporates reflection and a mentoring model
  • Level 4: A course or non-course activity that adheres to all four characteristics

Pyramid showing REAL Levels go from one through four