UI uses strength tests for freshmen


Elianna Novitch

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Incoming University of Iowa students this year have taken a test that identifies their strengths as a part of a new initiative at Iowa.

Analytical, input, arranger, communication, and activator are just a few of various results that incoming students received when they took the Gallup StrengthsFinder assessment this summer.

The test is new to the UI, with the class of 2020 being the first group that is required to take it as part of an incoming course.

The purpose of the StrengthsFinder assessment is to identify five strengths of a person and then give an in-depth description of the strength. Students will have the opportunity to develop their strengths in classes, student organizations, and other opportunities around campus.

“My five strengths were deliberate, input, consistency, learner, and analytical,” said UI student Omar Khodor. “The assessment required some more deliberation with certain questions, but that was a good thing because it got you to think about what you’re really like and helped guide you to results that fit you and who you are as a person.”

The assessment is a part of an initiative at the UI called Be [email protected].

According to the Be Better website, “The Be Better initiative will position the UI as the university that creates leaders who leverage their strengths, leadership knowledge, and leadership skills to contribute to their communities now and in the future.”

The initiative came from conversation that had been going on for five years among administrators and faculty who wanted to use the StrengthsFinder assessment with students on campus somehow.

Two years ago, a group called the Student Success Team, a group of about 300 administrators and faculty, talked about how they could improve the student experience at UI in the next couple years.

“We had a lot of conversations, and one of the things that was pretty consistent was how do we help the University of Iowa be the place where students are best prepared to become leaders,” said Paul Mintner, the UI assistant director for Leadership and Service Programs. “We took that statement and looked at what had been talked about for five years with various people across campus with the use of strengths and tried to bring them together by using the StrengthsFinder assessment as a baseline to start conversations about what they do well and get them connected to leadership opportunities.”

Some of the different opportunities available on campus for students to put their assessment results to use this year include classes such as the Tippie College of Business Direct Admit Seminar and Communication Skills for Leadership.

UI freshman Anna Bunn will use her StrengthsFinder results in the Tippie seminar this semester.

“The Direct Admit seminar is a good place to use our results because we work toward being a professional employee,” Bunn said. “Knowing my strengths lets me know myself better and what I’m good at.”

Other opportunities that UI students will have to use their results include such retreats as the Iowa N.E.W. Leadership or just in leadership positions in organizations they are a part of.

“The next step after you know your strengths and have done some work with them is to apply them into leadership development experiences that will help you continue to develop them,” Mintner said. “This isn’t just a first-year initiative. It is a long-term thing that we hope students develop and continue to use. We want to take this much further than just a student’s first year.”

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