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Service-Learning Office Announces Findings of Recent Impact Measure

The VCU Service-Learning Office has announced the findings of its 2017-18 Service-Learning Impact Measure (SLIM) report. Each semester, the Service-Learning Office invites every student enrolled in a service-learning class to participate in the SLIM evaluation. The SLIM evaluations help service-learning staff understand the service students participate in, measure the unique learning benefits of service-learning and improve the service-learning program at VCU. In 2017-18, 1,154 students completed the SLIM survey for the fall and spring semesters.

Key findings from last academic year’s service-learning students include that 81 percent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that their service-learning course enabled them to recognize how theories and conceptual models can be applied in real-world situations; Eighty-seven percent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that their service-learning course enabled them to apply personal skills and knowledge to new situations.

BekkersSavannah Bekkers, a junior majoring in psychology, took the service-learning course, HPEX 491: "Effective Mentoring Practice." Students in the course, led by Dr. Seth Leibowitz, executive director of health sciences programs and advising, participate in a mentoring program for the Health Sciences Academy Pipeline in Richmond Public High Schools. As a mentor to a student at John Marshall High School who was interested in health sciences, Bekkers helped a high school student navigate her first college credit course and advised her on everything from financial aid in college to what it is like to live on a college campus.

“I found myself often using concepts like cognitive flexibility to make myself a better student and person, and to hold my mentee accountable,” Bekkers said. “This was so different from normal courses because I got the chance to apply my learning to a real life situation and see the effect of my efforts and knowledge on an actual person.”

Other findings relate to students’ awareness of community issues and becoming informed citizens. Seventy-seven percent of respondents described their service-learning class as being beneficial to them in becoming more aware of local, state, national or global issues. Seventy-five percent of respondents described their service-learning class as being beneficial to them in being an active and informed citizen.

DexterElizabeth Dexter, a senior majoring in criminal justice and homeland security, took a capstone community engagement seminar with Dr. Michael Rackett in the Division of Community Engagement’s ASPiRE program as part of her requirement to complete the living-learning program.

“We learned about the history of Richmond and how construction and growth has brought both negative and positive change to the city,” Dexter said. “This course was different from a regular course because it taught us about our surroundings and about how we can influence/care for the city that we are a part of. Now I am able to speak knowledgeably about the issues affecting Richmond and what we can do to mitigate those issues.”

View the full 2017-18 Slim Report.

For more information, contact Katie Elliott, associate director of service-learning, at elliottkl@vcu.edu.