Dr. Amanda Hall
This study examines changes in students’ perception of their learning in service-learning classes in the Spring 2020 semester. Service-learning at VCU are credit-based courses in which students participate in organized service activities, meeting community-identified needs. The Service-Learning Impact Measure (SLIM) survey is offered to all service-learning students to assess the aforementioned perceptions of learning semesterly. The traditional nature of these courses includes at least some face-to-face learning and service components. This was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing a sudden transition to fully online learning reflected in the Spring 2020 SLIM assessment, focused on studying impacts on student perceptions of inclusion/acceptance, empathy, and accessibility. We employed a comparative mixed methods study utilizing the data from the VCU SLIM surveys. Thematic and statistical analyses were used to compare Fall 2019 and Spring 2020 SLIM responses. Results indicate that during the pandemic, students felt less supported overall than in pre-COVID semesters, but also reported higher levels of social activism and growth of character.