StrengthsQuest: Developing Your Strengths!

Strengths-Based Educational Models

Strengths-based educational approaches and models stress the positive aspects of student effort and achievement.  These approaches involve a process of assessing, teaching, and designing experiential learning activities to help students identify their greatest talents that can be productively applied academically, socially, and professionally.  Beginning in 2009, the Center for Academic Success and Achievement implemented a strengths-based educational model for students participating in the CASA Academy summer program-an alternative admissions program designed to ease the transition from high school to college for students whose academic profile and performance suggest the need for early intervention to improve their potential for success in college.  The primary purpose is to facilitate academic development through remedial education courses and to enhance student engagement during students' summer transition experience.

StrengthsFinder Assessment and Summer Orientation Seminar

The strengths-based model begins with educators discovering what they do best and then developing and applying their strengths as they assist students in identifying and applying their strengths in the learning process.  All CASA team members, summer academy faculty members, peer tutors, and peer mentors complete the StrengthsFinder assessment-the nucleus of the strengths-based education framework.  In web based survey format, the assessment is designed to identify talent themes in a variety of professional fields and interests.  The results of the assessment are a cluster of themes referred to as signature themes that describes a student's dominant, or Top 5, innate abilities and tendencies. 

Through a traditional first-year student orientation course framework, strengths facilitators engage CASA students in a six-week seminar.  Facilitators provide students with recommendations for leveraging strengths and specific action items for applying strengths.  Strengths facilitators help students to explore their key themes and talents, link those talents to students' personal goals and objectives, apply those talents to college orientation skill development in areas such as time management, study strategies, and group dynamics, and then document and exercise approaches to application both in and outside of the classroom. 

Strengths Outcomes

The positive initial outcomes for our CASA Academy students suggest that strengths-based approaches are a viable strategy for grappling with the challenges associated with pre-college academic underpreparedness as well as a factor for improved academic performance and increased engagement for students while matriculating at Morgan State.  We are excited to continue our development of strengths-based programming and look forward to implementing additional strengths-based initiatives.  Also, be sure to Meet the CASA Team to learn more about how CASA team members leverage their strengths to promote student success and achievement.