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StrengthsQuest for Engineers

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

FPD I: Research on First-year Programs Part I

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1180.1 - 25.1180.18



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Paper Authors


Shelley Lorimer Grant MacEwan University

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Shelley Lorimer, P.Eng., is the Chairperson of the Bachelor's of Science in Engineering Transfer program (BSEN) at Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton, Alberta. She teaches undergraduate courses in statics and dynamics, as well as courses in engineering professionalism. She is currently participating in a research project with Alberta Innovates – Technology Futures in the oil sands and hydrocarbon recovery group doing reservoir simulation of enhanced oil recovery processes. She has a Ph.D. in numerical modeling from the University of Alberta, also in Edmonton.

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Elsie Elford Grant MacEwan University

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Elsie Elford joined MacEwan as a full-time instructor in 1992. Her leadership ability was immediately evident as, in addition to teaching, she took on chairing and leading a number of college initiatives and committees. These included Chair of the Educational Leadership Institute (ELI), the Academic Vision Steering Committee, Academic Council, and Faculty Roles and Responsibilities. In 2000, MacEwan students presented her with the Student Champion Award, in recognition of exemplary service, support, and advocacy. In 2005, she received the International Exemplary Leader Award from the Chair Academy, a U.S.-based educational leadership institution. Since then, she has expanded her Chair Academy work to become a facilitator for the Leadership program, providing a lead role in MacEwan’s strengths-based leadership initiative. In 2009, she was named one of Alberta’s “50 Most Influential” by Venture Magazine. In her role as Dean, she works with a dedicated team to lead MacEwan as an institution that offers a variety of degrees, diplomas, and certificates. Prior to her career in education, Elford practiced law for 10 years, and holds both a B.A. and an L.L.B. from the University of Alberta. She stays connected to the profession through membership in the Law Society of Alberta and the Canadian Bar Association. Elford sits on the Board of Directors of Junior Achievement (JA) of Northern Alberta and Northwest Territories and is the Vice Chair of the Edmonton Chapter of the International Women’s Forum.

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StrengthsQuest for EngineersThis research was precipitated by a leadership course presented by the Chair Academy, a U.S.based leadership organization, which introduced Gallup’s online strengths assessment toolStrengthsQuest as a valuable instrument in the development of educational leadership. TheGallup organization has a considerable body of literature on strengths and the use of strengths asa mechanism for enhancing self understanding and improving team performance. It was clearfrom the outset of the course that this tool might be useful as an educational tool (for thestudents) and as a research tool (engineering educational research) in analyzing the first yearengineering educational experience. As a result, the StrengthsQuest tool was introduced in ourfirst year program as a part of the curriculum in a course entitled “The Orientation to theEngineering Profession”. This initiative has become an ongoing longitudinal study examining thestrengths of first year engineering students, to determine whether or not each engineering grouppossesses a unique strengths signature. Can this information be used to improve the educationalexperience of the students by teaching to their strengths? The results presented in this study spana three year period. Results for two similarly sized student groups are considered.This article highlights the process that was required to use the StrengthsQuest tool, both as a partof the curriculum and as a research tool to study the “strengths” of first year engineering students(~200 students). Results are also presented showing the engineering students’ strengths in termsof academic achievement. The results were analyzed in light of strengths based research. Thearticle presents a preliminary literature survey which establishes a link between Gallup’s strengthbased research and the body of literature on personality assessments of engineering students. Inparticular, there seems to be a strong connection between the thirty four Gallup strengths, and thesixteen Myers Briggs personality types.The results that have been obtained to date are interesting, since there appears to be a “strengths”signature or a dominant set of strengths for the engineering student groups considered in thisstudy. The same type of pheonomenon was observed in the literature when personality typeassessments were conducted with engineering students. In particular, a common signature forengineering students using Myers-Briggs typing was “(E/I)STJ. In this study, for both groups,the dominant strength “competition” appeared in the top five strengths of 40% of each of the twogroups. Furthermore, seven key strengths were common in the top ten strengths of both groups:“achiever”, “adaptability”, “analytical”, “competition”, “futuristic”, “learner” and “restorative” .The research project also generated a substantial amount of interest amongst the students. Theenthusiasm and self discovery then generated considerable conversation about the impact ofthese strengths, and how the engineering transfer program might use this information to improvethe students’ educational experience. The experience was so positive, that the StrengthsQuesttool will be incorporated into the curriculum, and further results explored.

Lorimer, S., & Elford, E. (2012, June), StrengthsQuest for Engineers Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21937

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