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"SLIM" Evaluations Improve Service-Learning Experiences

The Service-Learning Office has collected 251 Service-Learning Impact Measure (SLIM) evaluations for the fall semester. The  evaluations are used in addition to standard VCU course evaluations to help determine the impact service-learning experiences have on students.

Lynn Pelco, associate vice provost for community engagement, said service-learning staff members carefully review the SLIM survey responses to identify potential improvements to service-learning classes and experiences.

"Data at VCU has shown that students who take service-learning classes are more likely to graduate than students who do not," Pelco said. "The Service-Learning Impact Measure provides additional information about the actual quality of students' learning experiences within those service-learning classes."

Katie Elliott, associate director of service-learning, said the office invited every student who responded to last semester's survey to enter a raffle. The two winners - Tiffany Farley, a junior majoring in mass communications; and Leah Maready, a senior majoring in general sciences with a minor in psychology - each received a gift bag from the Service-Learning Office, containing a $10 Starbucks gift card, a VCU service-learning t-shirt, candy and a thank-you note from the service-learning staff.

Farley took the service-learning course "Global Health and Social Media,"  taught by Marcus Messner and Vivian Medina-Messner. The students in the course created campaigns for nonprofit clients.

"This was my first service-learning class, and I was really in to the real-life experience," Farley said. "For an international nonprofit to utilize our work was pretty cool. Because of the work for the class, I looked into some internships for the spring semester and am now doing one in social media. I would never have looked into that were it not for this class and this project."

Maready took "Ecological Service-Learning" with Edward Crawford. The class worked with two nonprofit organizations - RVA Clean Sweep, a volunteer group that organizes monthly cleanups in neighborhoods around Richmond and Virginia Oyster Shell Restoration program, which is part of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

"I learned so much more about the city through service," Maready said. "There were organizations and places I didn’t know anything about—and then I could see the difference we were making. It was really cool to see the impact that we made instead of just being in a classroom."

For more information, contact Elliott at elliottkl@vcu.edu.