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April 25, 2013 Volume 34, No. 28

Faculty, staff and students can discover their professional strengths through MU website


MU advisor working on dissertation describing benefits of the strength-assessment survey on students’ choices in higher education

StrengthsQuest, an online assessment survey that helps identify an individual’s strengths, is creating a buzz at MU, and the Career Center is exploring broader ways to utilize it. 

Begun in 2006, the assessment helps faculty, staff and students learn more about themselves and how they interact with others, said Craig Benson, assistant director of MU’s Career Center.

More than 15,000 people have taken StrengthsQuest, which is offered through the career center, he said. 

After completing the online assessment, individuals receive a customized report that lists their top five talent themes, along with action items for development and suggestions about how the talents can be used to achieve academic, career and personal success. There are 34 talent themes, such as Analytical, Relator and Learner. The survey is meant to build on one’s strengths. 

The School of Nursing has incorporated StrengthsQuest into its curriculum. 

“The chance to listen to others discuss how they have used StrengthsQuest allowed me to see what other opportunities might exist,” said Donna Otto, teaching instructor emerita in the Sinclair School of Nursing. “It is a strong tool for people to help understand themselves and how they look at the world,” Otto said. “It also helps to understand how others might look at the world differently.”

MU nursing students take the assessment before applying for their clinical major. 

“There is more competition for nursing jobs now,” Otto said. “The health care industry has begun using behavioral assessment tools for interviewing and hiring nurses.”

After first using StrengthsQuest in a freshman strategies course, Shannon Breske applied it to her research as a PhD student in educational leadership and policy analysis. Breske is now the director of undergraduate advising for the Trulaske College of Business and is working on a dissertation focused on the benefits of the strength-assessment survey to students’ choices in higher education. 

“It is a way to show each other our unique talents and how we can work together in the most effective manner,” Breske said. “Whether it is building a relationship, finding a career path or academic strategies, understanding your strengths can be a powerful tool.”

Growth has occurred from word of mouth, Benson said. “Those who have used it have seen its benefits and usefulness. The word has spread about how helpful it can be for anyone in any area on campus.”

The Career Center has a student staff of 40 who assist those interested in taking the assessment, and regular walk-in hours are available. The assessment costs $15 through the center; however, some programs cover the costs for students, faculty or staff. Visit the website at

“It is a very powerful tool to have an assessment that can give you feedback on yourself with actual strategies on how to grow as a person,” Breske said. 

— Josh Murray

CORRECTION: Due to an editing error, a previous version of this story stated that Shannon Breske was introduced to StrengthsQuest while an MU freshman. This was not the case. — The Editor