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Gallup StrengthsFinder in Engineering

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

First-year Programs Division: Self Efficacy

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

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Paper Authors


Brenda Read-Daily Elizabethtown College

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Dr. Brenda Read-Daily is an Assistant Professor of Engineering at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania. She holds a BS in Civil Engineering from Bradley University, and a MS and PhD in Environmental Engineering from the University of Notre Dame.

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Kurt M. DeGoede Elizabethtown College

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Professor of Engineering and Physics, Elizabethtown College. His research interests in biomechanics include developing clinical instruments for rehabilitation. Dr. DeGoede teaches upper-level undergraduate mechanical engineering and design courses and the first-year introduction to engineering course. He is also developing a collaborative study abroad program in West Africa built around social enterprise initiatives.

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Stacey L. Zimmerman Elizabethtown College

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Stacey Zimmerman is a Gallup-certified strengths coach who believes in the powerful combination of honoring our natural talents while uncovering our unique purpose in life. She currently directs strengths education, coaching, and leadership development at Elizabethtown College, and she was a former human resources professional. Through the lens of strengths and leadership development, she is able to mentor and coach individuals with the goal of living authentic lives.

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The Gallup StrengthsFinder® Inventory identifies individual’s top five strengths from the 34 themes in the inventory [1].  Strengths such as Activator, Deliberative, and Restorative are grouped into four domains: executing, influencing, relationship building and strategic thinking.  

All of our first-year students complete the Strengths Inventory.  Throughout the two-semester Introduction to Engineering (ItE) course sequence, we contextualize Strengths for engineering students by contrasting strengths and skills.  We use the StrengthsFinder to capture personal strengths and define engineering skills through the lens of the ABET a-k outcomes.  We frame developing the required engineering skills from the foundation of their individual strengths.

Students form professional development plans for their first year of college, create a resume, and write a biographical sketch using the language of StrengthsFinder to give voice to their talents. Our “one-Minute Engineer” assignment requires students to describe why they are pursuing engineering as a career path. Again, the framework of StrengthsFinder helps students clearly express their motivations.

Team projects form the framework for ItE course sequence.  We sort students into teams with diverse strengths [2].  Students utilize team contracts in which they develop team roles based on individual strengths [3].  A team mapping exercise reveals that our engineering students tend to overpopulate the executing and strategic thinking domains of Strengths.  Less stereotypical engineering students with Strengths in relationship building and influencing realize their position to uniquely contribute in areas that are often undervalued in student engineering teams.  

This paper will examine our use of Gallup StrengthsFinder as a case study.  We have found using this approach helps students capitalize on unique strengths, build more diverse teams, foster student confidence, and fight imposter syndrome.

Read-Daily, B., & DeGoede, K. M., & Zimmerman, S. L. (2018, June), Gallup StrengthsFinder in Engineering Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30553

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