Department of Educational Administration


Date of this Version


Document Type



A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts Major: Educational Administration Under the Supervision of Professor Rachelle Winkle-Wagner Lincoln, Nebraska May, 2010 Copyright 2010 Jennifer A. Mostek


The purpose of this qualitative, interview-based study was to identify the way that students and advisors utilized knowledge about students’ strengths in college. Strengths were defined by StrengthsQuest, a product of The Gallup Organization. Five college students and three academic advisors from the business college at a large, public research university, representing various cultural backgrounds, family statuses and ages participated in the study. Student and advisor participants explored the influence of strengths on self awareness, confidence, relationships, academic matters, as well as future plans. Advisor participants also discussed the need for additional courses or integration of strengths-based education in existing courses.

This study provided an opportunity to begin connecting StrengthsQuest to student development theory within the field of higher education, specifically Chickering and Reisser’s (1993) vectors of development, Baxter Magolda’s (1992) cognitive development theory, as well as two typology theories, Meyers-Briggs Type Inventory and Holland’s Theory of Vocational Personalities and Environments.

This study found that students were using the knowledge of their strengths during college and that this may have increased their confidence, the quality of their relationships, and goals. Students who had more exposure and training to use their strengths had a better understanding of themselves and others. Faculty, staff, and student affairs practitioners can use this information to create additional opportunities to provide engaging and enriching experiences for students.