What are your top 5? This question may seem strange to some, but to the students in Leadership Studies and across campus, it is a conversation starter that is truly transforming the way students interact. StrengthsQuest is a behavioral-based online assessment that gives students the opportunity to identify their talents and utilize them inside and outside of the classroom.
Mike Finnegan, School of Leadership Studies Instructor, was one of the key players in bringing StrengthsQuest to the School of Leadership Studies. After experimenting with StrengthsQuest a few years ago in one of his LEAD 212 classes with Trish Gott, they decided it was time to move forward and begin a strengths initiative in the classroom.
“Basically, we are providing students with a common language where they can understand their strengths and learn how to leverage talents which are unique to them,” Finnegan said. “StrengthsQuest is helping students to build community, talk about their own strengths and learn about the strengths of their peers.”
After students take StrengthsFinder assessment, they receive a customized report that lists off their top 5 talent themes and suggests how to utilize their talents to achieve academic, career and personal success. There is a list of 34 different talent themes that students could possess, so each report is unique to that student. Not only has the School of Leadership Studies seen the value that the assessment has, but they have taken steps to invite others to be a part of the initiative in hopes of eventually becoming a strengths-based university.
“This year we have had over 2300 first semester freshmen take the StrengthsFinder assessment as a part of a campus-wide initiative,” Finnegan said, “but we have also been able to train faculty and staff across campus so that they can start applying StrengthsQuest in different departments across campus.”
Advocates for StrengthsQuest (ASQ) is a student organization that was created to help further the strengths initiative at K-State. Students involved with ASQ have the opportunity to work directly with Mike Finnegan while developing training workshops for fellow students. Kristen Brunkow, ’14, helped pioneer the way in starting ASQ and has been heavily involved in expanding StrengthsQuest’s reach, including in her sorority house.
“When you have 174 members and live with 82 of them, there are many different perspectives to work with and value,” Brunkow said. “Being able to understand another member’s strengths has helped me to understand their natural tendencies, trigger points, perceptions and behaviors which lead to respect and more active engagement.”
StrengthsQuest is more than an assessment that tells you your talents; it creates an opportunity for students to learn from one another and build community through connections and conversations. K-State hopes to increase student retention, engagement and the well-being of undergraduate students by identifying and developing personal strengths with the help of StrengthsQuest. As a result, not only will students benefit while on the K-State campus, but they will also be able to take what they learn with them into future endeavors, including the workplace and beyond.
“Strengths doesn’t tell you what you can and can’t do,” Brunkow said. “It shows you how you naturally go about thinking, feeling and behaving so that no matter what the task or situation, you can accomplish it by leveraging your top 5 strengths.”
My Top 5:
Junior, Civil Engineering
Sophomore Pre-Journalism & Mass Comm
Freshman, Food Science And Industry
Junior, Family Studies & Human Services
Tabatha L. Bell