Administrators plan to build an outside-the-classroom learning environment with the recent implementation of the College of William and Mary’s Student Affairs’ new 360 Degree Educational Approach.
“Students always say that they have so much on their plate, but how strong is that plate,” Eric Garrison, M.A.Ed ’94 said. “For students to lead a balanced life they need a stronger plate.”
Student Affairs hopes to create an engaged learning environment using the concept of PERMA, which stands for positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning and accomplishment.
“William and Mary students learn just as must outside the classroom and we need to make sure that there are structures on campus perpetuating this learning.” Dean of Students Ginger Ambler ’88, Ph.D ’06 said. “The whole idea of promoting well-being is our goal at Student Affairs, with the idea that when people function at their best this will lead to their best experience.”
Ambler first presented the idea to the administration at the end of the 2011-12 academic year. Student Affairs’ approach was adopted into the College’s new Strategic Plan, which is currently being implemented.
Although a part of the Strategic Plan, the 360 Approach represents a general mindset about education. Ambler hopes to emphasize student well-being, while creating new opportunities on campus.
“Most recently, we created linkages between the Center for Student Diversity and [Mason School of Business] professors with the overall goal of enhancing student experiences and preparing students for the global market,” Director of Student Affairs Planning and Assessment Jodi Fisler said. “It’s all moving forward together.”
Fisler went on to describe the power of the new approach.
“As with any strategic planning process, this is an extensive effort that will involve a lot of people over a lengthy period of time,” Fisler said in an email. “Because the concept is powerful though, I’m sure many people will be integrating it into their own programs and conversations with students even before we have a final plan in place.”