Carl Creasman Supports Student Success Using LifeMap

A Message from Stacey Johnson, President, East and Winter Park Campuses

Are we concerned about our students and their academic success? Do we understand what is expected of us to help our students flourish in their lives and then, through them, encourage our community to flourish?

These are two questions that Carl Creasman, professor, history, identifies as crucial for Valencia faculty to ask when considering how to support student learning at Valencia.

“I think everyone who works here would say ‘yes’ to the first question,” Carl said. Finding a unified definition as to “how” to accomplish that point, as well as helping students flourish beyond the individual class, is often more challenging.

Carl completed the LifeMap Certification, offered through Faculty and Instructional Development, two years ago and is now serving as a LifeMap mentor and facilitator for the program. The LifeMap Certification focuses on the faculty essential competency by the same name. This value prompts Valencia educators to “design learning opportunities that promote student life skills development while enhancing discipline learning.”

Carl outlines this as a three-layered approach:

  • Success within the class (which includes meeting course outcomes);
  • Success in skills that will promote student success in every other class (including writing skills, reading skills, time management, study skills, etc.);
  • And success in larger life skills that will aid the student in lifetime success (including punctuality, personal responsibility, etc.).

“If you’re only concerned with your discipline information, you are missing the opportunity to play a role in the larger life of the student — helping them find success in your class and then beyond your class,” he said.

For Carl, this was the philosophical side of the coin of incorporating LifeMap with his students, but he also had to think pragmatically, as well, about how he structures his classes to be designed to promote these student life skills. Through his experience in the LifeMap Certification Program, he introduced more communication about goal-setting on day-one of his classes. He has his students consider the “deeper why” of what they are doing at Valencia and why it matters. These may sound like familiar topics for an SLS course, but Carl introduces these concepts in his history classes. Carl admits that perhaps this familiarity with history has contributed to a contextual understanding of his “anthropological perspective” of student learning.

“Every year, in colleges across America, professors and everyone who works in higher ed have the privilege of creating the country we want to see,” he said. “At a microscopic level, you may think that your efforts at deeper life-success skills do not make much difference. However, if we do a better job at stopping to think, ‘this is the last stop before they go into the real world,’ then we will understand that our work with each student has a big impact.”

Carl explains that at a larger level, flourishing students contribute to a flourishing society. The question directed at faculty is, “Don’t you want a flourishing society?” He says the way to impact students is to make a personal connection with them, know their names and invest in their lives at some level.

In this last year, Carl’s role in the LifeMap Certification Program has been one-to-one mentoring with faculty as they implement their projects in their capstone phase of the certification. For instructors who are considering the LifeMap Certification in the upcoming academic year, he suggests that you are probably doing more LifeMap than you know already, but you will be able to gain better insight through the program.

In fall 2017, Carl will be facilitating the East Campus LifeMap cohort along with Co-facilitator and East Campus Counselor Jocelyn Morales.

For faculty interested in more information about the LifeMap Certification, click here.

The complete 2017-18 cohort schedule will be available in July 2017.

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