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StrengthsFinder - StrengthsFinder - Project Year 3 Report

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Greenville College Summary Report to FIPSE 

2002-2003 (Year III)

It has been an exciting year for Greenville College with progress toward becoming a "strengths-based" campus. Because of the addition of COR 401 Senior Capstone, course, all students on campus completed the StrengthsFinder. Students and faculty/staff alike are talking about and recognizing how strengths play a role in their lives. Strengths truly are becoming part of the fabric of Greenville College

The following is a list of activities, experiences and occurrences related to the StrengthsFinder in the past year at Greenville College which have been funded by FIPSE.

All the activities of year two continue with the incoming first-year students.

"Drive-In Days" - Students and parents were provided orientation to StrengthsFinder in sessions at Drive-In Days. Participants were provided information about Greenville College's attempt to become a "strengths-based" campus. They were told about the implementation of StrengthsFinder on campus, how the instrument is used, and the positive impact it has had on students. Students were told how they would complete the assessment and parents were offered the opportunity to purchase Now Discover Your Strengths in order to complete the assessment.

All incoming students, both freshmen and transfer students, were provided (free of charge to them) a copy of StrengthsQuest, Gallup's newest publication written specifically to meet the needs of college students. StrengthsQuest includes the StrengthsFinder assessment, on-line enhancement sites to allow students to further explore their strengths in a way with which they are comfortable, and "college relevant" written material.

The StrengthsQuest books were distributed by the CORE instructors and often, students completed the StrengthsFinder as part of their course requirements and were asked to write papers, develop presentations, etc. about what they had learned about their strengths. The CORE classes use StrengthsFinder to varying extents depending upon the actual focus of the class. At minimum, CORE faculty are required to devote three hours of instructional time to the StrengthsFinder and the student's strengths. The StrengthsFinder Program Coordinator met with most of the CORE 101 classes to provide students with more information about StrengthsFinder, how to use StrengthsQuest, their own strengths, how their strengths relate to others, and how they can use and develop their strengths in the future.

Career planning and strengths development for sophomores.

Greenville College hosted a "Sophomore Summit" early in the fall. The purpose of this event was to combine sophomores' understanding of their strengths with career planning and to help them identify ways in which they are already using their strengths as well as ways to develop them further. One of the speakers of the event, Dr. Rick McPeak , talked with the students about his own development and recognition of a "calling" due to StrengthsFinder and shared specific things he has been able to change and/or enhance about his life. The students then heard from the Director of Career Development about the services offered by her office and how students can begin to look at a career based on their strengths. Next, in breakout sessions, the students were provided the opportunity for self-assessment by choosing one (or more) of their top five strengths and participating in a small group of others with the same strength. Faculty and staff members facilitated the small groups. At the conclusion of the event, the students were encouraged to visit Career Services and one of the StrengthsCoaches, and were provided a schedule of workshops lead by Career Services. There were 69 students and 15 staff/faculty volunteers present.

Further training for faculty who teach in the sophomore CORE courses and/or advise sophomores.

Once again this year, Dr. Laurie Schreiner and Dr. Chip Anderson visited the Greenville Campus. Both of them met with the faculty who have been specifically trained to advise "undeclared" students. These faculty continue to learn more about strengths and how to help students apply them. They encourage students to explore their strengths as well as discuss how knowing and developing their strengths may help them with the decisions of a major and a career.

Since most faculty and staff on campus are well versed and very interested in StrengthsFinder, Chip and Laurie met with all faculty and staff to discuss a variety of topics. For instance, Chip talked with faculty about motivating students and with staff about job satisfaction and how to use strengths to "job share". Laurie met with faculty about different student learning styles, teaching techniques and "teaching to your strengths". She met with the Student Development Staff to brainstorm about the next step in StrengthsFinder implementation. At that meeting, it was determined that, for Greenville, the next component must be the spiritual development component. Namely, how to intentionally incorporate strengths into spiritual development and how does knowing one's strengths impact spiritual development? For instance, does the best way to study the Bible differ with a certain set of strengths?

Faculty and staff continue to serve as StrengthsCoaches who are available to meet with students to explore their strengths in depth. Additionally, many faculty/staff meet with students in Bible study in the residence halls.

If a student is experiencing personal or academic difficulty which is affecting his/her success at Greenville College, the student is invited to attend a "Care Team" meeting. These students are typically sophomores who are caught in the "Sophomore Slump." In the meeting, the student is surrounded by those who are most involved with him/her, such as faculty, RC, etc as well as others who can offer assistance including the Director of Career Services, Campus Counselor, StrengthFinder Program Coordinator and Director of the Academic Enrichment Center. The student is asked to share what he/she thinks is the cause of the difficulty and then a discussion ensues about what would help the most. There is no particular obligation on the part of the student, but typically, the student responds positively to the caring intervention. Often, a "Learning Contract" is developed with and monitored by a faculty/staff person who has been chosen by the student.

Five faculty members receive a course release for the year to plan service-learning and/or cross-cultural courses based on a strengths-development model.

This year, several faculty required their students to provide community service. For instance, in one class, students were provided a list of community programs such as social service agencies and nursing homes. The student were instructed to choose one of these from the list and volunteer there. The students then were required to report what they learned. Usually, students are challenged and report growth from this experience as well as learn how to use their strengths in new situations.

Several travel courses were offered this year and student participation was high. Again, students are challenged on many levels including understanding other cultures and just getting along with each other. One inter-discipline course was offered but then was cancelled due to the war in Iraq.

In August, eighteen students, including several from other colleges, traveled to Mozambique for most of the academic year. These students became immersed in the life and culture there on many levels and in many ways. Upon their return, these students provided leadership of a Chapel and that reported that their lives were changed and enriched beyond measure. They also reported that they learned to understand and appreciate their strengths.

The Director of Cross Cultural and Multi-Cultural Programs met with every student of color to discuss his/her strengths.

Several faculty and staff have attended "Damascus Road" training to promote anti-racism. These people have now reached the next level of being able to provide training for others.

This year, seniors enrolled in the CORE 401 Capstone course which is designed to be multi-disciplinary and to challenge the students to look at life's choices, use what they have learned, and to make good decisions. The seniors who had not already completed the StrengthsFinder, were supplied StrengthsQuest books to complete the assessment. Then, the seniors were placed in small groups based on their top five strengths and the top five strengths of the faculty facilitator of each group. The "over-arching" topic of the course was "terrorism" and the students explored this topic from many aspects and many levels in their small groups as well as with the total group. Each small group produced a final project.

Across Greenville College Campus (In addition to listings above)

Students

Students report that they are able to use their strengths to increase productivity in classes and study, enhance communication with other people, develop deeper relationships through a greater understanding of self and others and have e a deeper, clearer sense of being "gifted" by God.

The GOAL Program, a degree completion program for adults, requires students to complete the StrengthsFinder as part of the curriculum. The StrengthsCoach who discusses the results with the students reports that the GOAL students are anxious to apply their strengths to their lives and careers.

Coaches meet with athletes on a regular basis to provide support and encouragement to them and also to discuss their strengths.

The two campus counselors are both StrengthsCoaches and believe in the power of knowing ones self. They incorporate a discussion of student strengths into counseling sessions with most students. The exploration of strengths in a confidential counseling session facilitates increased self-esteem, trust of self, and a greater ability to enter into healthy relationships with others.

Students benefit directly from interaction with the Residence Life Team. This team diligently continues to find new ways of impacting the lives of students. The Residence Life Team plays an integral part in subtle and overt promotion, awareness, and celebration of student strengths. In the residence halls, staff decorate with the names of strengths, facilitate formal discussion of strengths, encourage and support students, and other activities too numerous to mention.

During his visit, Dr. Chip Anderson met with each CORE 101 class and discussed strengths, vocation and calling. He interacted with numerous groups of students on campus. He also spoke in Chapel on two occasions.

Dr. Laurie Schreiner spoke in Chapel about calling.

In the spring, 27 faculty and staff hosted all Greenville College students at the Celebrate Your Strengths Dinner. During the regular dinner hours in the Dining Commons, students were invited to sit at tables identified with 27 of the 34 strengths. Faculty and staff leaders facilitated discussions about the implications of strengths for daily living. Given that many students sat at several different tables, and that dinner continued later than usual, this event can be judged a success.

The campus newspaper, The Papyrus, featured a weekly item called "Strengths Finder Horoscope" This fun feature, written by students, included four strengths in each issue and a narrative about what a person with these strengths might think, do, or say.

Just prior to the sophomores leaving campus for the summer, they were provided a T-shirt which has the Greenville College logo on the front and "Soar With Your Strengths" on the back. This was a thank you to the sophomores as well as an encouragement to return in the fall.

Twenty-two students were interviewed about StrengthsFinder and the impact of knowing their top five strengths. A cross-section of the student body was chosen to be interviewed. The responses were over-whelmingly positive and included statements about the general atmosphere of Greenville College as well as StrengthsFinder. The results of these interviews will be combined with those conducted at Eastern University and submitted to the FIPSE grant administration.

Faculty and Staff

As mentioned above, the faculty and staff of Greenville College have embraced the StrengthsFinder and have recognized the value in a "positive" approach and attitude with students.

The faculty and staff have attended and supported the Care Team meetings and have monitored the student's progress afterward.

Many faculty have incorporated the StrengthsFinder results into their curriculum regardless of what year the students have completed.

April 27-29, 2003, four staff and one faculty presented at the Noel-Levitz Sixth Annual Symposium on the Recruitment and Retention of Students of Color. The presentation was entitled, "Building on Strengths to Enhance Student Success."

In July 2002, some of the Student Development staff traveled to Cleveland Tennessee to present a program at the ACSD conference. The name of the presentation was "Helping Students to Find Their Strengths" and included information about developing a strengths based campus (covering several departments), understanding strengths and how to use them, and what Greenville College has been doing to enhance the college experience for students by using a strengths approach.