***Now Accepting REAL grant proposals for Fall 2024***


  • Print, fill out, and get the appropriate signature for the Approval Form.
  • Mail the hardcopy of the Approval Form to Dr. Rusty Ward, Department of Sociology, FH 242 via inter-office mail, or send as a scanned PDF to rward@fmarion.edu.
  • We suggest that you type your proposal in a Word document you can save for your records.
  • Transfer the information to the web form.

View the rubric and guidelines used by the committee to rate proposals.

The REAL Program Application and Guidelines

The REAL Program at Francis Marion University solicits proposals for funding for new and existing programs in experiential or nontraditional learning. Experiential learning opportunities occur outside the traditional classroom, library or laboratory. REAL program funds are only for undergraduate students.

  • To be eligible for funds programs should include means for student reflection, discussion, analysis and evaluation of the learning experience.
  • Application for REAL grants indicates a willingness to participate fully in assessment of the program.
  • Future REAL grants may vary depending upon competing grants, funds availability and assessment of programs.

Proposal Guidelines and Restrictions

  1. REAL grants are open to academic programs only and one person should be identified as the principal investigator. Other involved faculty members should be listed on the proposal.
  2. REAL grant proposals must be complete with itemized dollar amounts.
  3. When requesting funds for hotels please specify the number of rooms, number of nights and estimated cost per night.
  4. Grant recipients agree to have students complete a short, on-line rating form.
  5. Grant recipients will also complete a fairly short on-line survey.
  6. In most cases, preference will be given to projects that potentially will benefit the most people.
  7. Faculty may apply for up to $5,000 per project that does not involve international travel. Generally, the committee does not fund proposals over $5000; however, exceptional projects in excess of this amount will be considered subject to the availability of funding (some examples include projects that involve multiple faculty, are multidisciplinary or involve a large number of students).  Strong rationale must be provided for proposals exceeding the limit.
  8. Faculty may apply for up to $7,500 per project that involves international travel, but REAL cannot fund the airfare portion of the travel.
  9. Projects involving multiple faculty should be submitted as a single proposal.
  10. REAL grants generally do not pay for meals or for mileage for personal vehicles when a University van would be cheaper. Faculty must comply with university travel policies. View university travel policies.
  11. REAL grants involving student wages will generally pay $10.00 per hour.
  12. International airfare cannot be covered.

Additional Guidelines

  1. The committee will not pay for teaching or modifying existing courses. A request for funds to create a new experiential learning activity will be considered but is a low priority.
  2. The committee will approve stipends for research projects or internships only if the students are not receiving academic credit for the activity.
  3. Payment for meals, when approved should follow state guidelines.
  4. We do not fund multiyear grants. Future funding is not guaranteed but with progress reports and satisfactory evaluations support is likely.
  5. Faculty cannot be paid a stipend for research related to a REAL Program grant.
  6. Travel for faculty is a low priority item. Faculty travel will be considered if it involves accompanying students when that travel cannot covered by Professional Development funds.
  7. A faculty member wishing to take the same student to an additional REAL Program-funded activity must obtain a waiver by contacting the REAL Program coordinator.

Application Checklist:

  • If your REAL grant involves international travel, have you completed and submitted the International Travel Study Application Form (see Provost Office webpage) to your Dean or Chair for review and recommendation, and submitted the form to the Provost Office for review and approval? Note: this requirement applies only to REAL grant proposals involving international travel.
  • Did you seek Professional Development funds for yourself if applicable to this proposal?
  • Did you define terms and acronyms that those outside of your department wouldn’t know?
  • Is your budget itemized (for example, costs for hotel rooms, number of rooms needed, number of people per room)?
  • Did you double check your budget totals?
  • Have you completed the REAL Grant Approval Form as well as the Faculty Application for REAL funds?

The REAL Program: Student Feedback

Students responded to open-ended questions regarding nontraditional learning activities. Below are some of the responses, demonstrating how these activities were able to:

Provide an enhanced sense of career path and goals along with skills needed for a career.
  • After going on this trip to New York City and visiting the many wonderful art galleries, I began to appreciate art a lot more. I will apply this to my future art classroom, for many students to learn from.
  • Attending my first psychology conference allowed me to reflect on my goals and experiences. This experience exposed me to new therapies, and strengthened my decision to become a clinical psychologist.
  • I believe that this field trip showed me new ways that would help me better my teaching ability and help my students more.
  • I had the chance to learn about wet plate collodions and how to get your work up in galleries.
Increase knowledge, curiosity and love of learning.
  • As a result of the knowledge gained from this conference, I, as well as my peers who attended the conference, have formulated a research topic which we plan to begin investigating soon.
  • I was able to expand my knowledge of chemistry and make connections with chemistry and biology topics.
  • Participation in the programming contest caused me to reaffirm my goals in the Computer Science field.
Result in an improved confidence, independence and sense of self-discipline.
  • Greek poet Archilochus stated the fox knows many things while the hedgehog knows one great thing. Up until now, I was looking at my direction through a single lens like a hedgehog; field work and conservation. Working in this lab has given me more perspective and has given me an interest in other avenues of discovery such as genetics work and immunology to tackle problems facing our environment. I can now envision myself in an integrated approach using many different methods ranging from field work to molecular biology and now I have some experience in that area. This has been invaluable.
  • It enhanced my desire to become a chemist and start doing beneficial research for society.
  • This trip helped me to strengthen my social skills and networks, increased my knowledge about the way our government works, and exposed me to a plethora of various backgrounds, ideologies, and beliefs.
Help them to develop an appreciation of others’ values and the world beyond.
  • Being submerged in a new culture is the best way to learn about it and fully grasp someone else’s life style and views. I could not learn what I did from a book or a class that was in the USA. I had self-discovery and gained new understanding about politics, art, social norms, habits, and ultimately how to be comfortable going outside of my element to try doing new, foreign things on my own.
  • I learned more about the world outside of the US and realized that we have just as many misconceptions about the world as they have about us. Also, by being able to actually see and experience things I have been and am being taught about makes it easier to understand.
  • I saw that not every teacher has to be strict and raise their voice to keep their class under control. The behavior management in this school was amazing!
  • This activity greatly influenced my knowledge and value systems in more ways than one. It allowed me to explore the uniqueness of different cultures while reflecting upon my own.

Standards of Practice: Eight Principles of Good Practice for All Experiential Learning Activities

All parties must be clear from the outset why experience is the chosen approach to the learning that is to take place and to the knowledge that will be demonstrated, applied or result from it. Intention represents the purposefulness that enables experience to become knowledge and, as such, is deeper than the goals, objectives, and activities that define the experience.

Participants must ensure that they enter the experience with sufficient foundation to support a successful experience. They must also focus from the earliest stages of the experience/program on the identified intentions, adhering to them as goals, objectives and activities are defined. The resulting plan should include those intentions and be referred to on a regular basis by all parties. At the same time, it should be flexible enough to allow for adaptations as the experience unfolds.

The experience must have a real world context and/or be useful and meaningful in reference to an applied setting or situation. This means that is should be designed in concert with those who will be affected by or use it, or in response to a real situation.

Reflection is the element that transforms simple experience to a learning experience. For knowledge to be discovered and internalized the learner must test assumptions and hypotheses about the outcomes of decisions and actions taken, then weigh the outcomes against past learning and future implications. This reflective process is integral to all phases of experiential learning, from identifying intention and choosing the experience, to considering preconceptions and observing how they change as the experience unfolds. Reflection is also an essential tool for adjusting the experience and measuring outcomes.

For the full value of the experience to be accessible to both the learner and the learning facilitator(s), and to any involved organizational partners, it is essential that they be prepared with important background information about each other and about the context and environment in which the experience will operate. Once that baseline of knowledge is addressed, ongoing structured development opportunities should also be included to expand the learner’s appreciation of the context and skill requirements of her/his work.

Any learning activity will be dynamic and changing, and the parties involved all bear responsibility for ensuring that the experience, as it is in process, continues to provide the richest learning possible, while affirming the learner. It is important that there be a feedback loop related to learning intentions and quality objectives and that the structure of the experience be sufficiently flexible to permit change in response to what that feedback suggests. While reflection provides input for new hypotheses and knowledge based in documented experience, other strategies for observing progress against intentions and objectives should also be in place. Monitoring and continuous improvement represent the formative evaluation tools.

Outcomes and processes should be systematically documented with regard to initial intentions and quality outcomes. Assessment is a means to develop and refine the specific learning goals and quality objectives identified during the planning stages of the experience, while evaluation provides comprehensive data about the experiential process as a whole and whether it has met the intentions that suggested it.

Recognition of learning and impact occur throughout the experience by way of the reflective and monitoring processes and through reporting, documentation and sharing of accomplishments. All parties to the experience should be included in the recognition of progress and accomplishment. Culminating documentation and celebration of learning and impact help provide closure and sustainability to the experience.

Source: National Society for Experiential Education

Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP)

QEP Assessment Results