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Center of Excellence for Teaching and Learning

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The Study Of Life Includes The Self

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Dr. Meg  DelgatoWe continue our review of the 2012-2013 CETL grants with a report from Dr. Mel Delgato (Biology Chair, Tarpon) on uncovering students strengths and weaknesses to help them prepare in furthering their science careers.

Describe your project.

I asked for copies of Now, Know Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham for my BS Biology students in their capstone course for Spring 2013. The book has an access code for a strengths-finder assessment tool. Students took the assessment and used the findings to prepare for our mock interview process with specific emphasis on the types of questions that focus on an applicant’s strengths and weaknesses.

What was the chief accomplishment of your project? What problem did you solve? What program did you implement?

One of the major learning objectives for the capstone course (BSC 4931) is to prepare for career and graduate school work. The mock interview has become one of the most meaningful activities we provide as part of the capstone course. We knew this from feedback not only from students but also from members of our advisory board.

What were the results? Did you see a numeric increase, a qualitative improvement? Can you describe it?

Qualitatively, the feedback from the mock interviews indicated that the students had well-developed and meaningful answers to the questions that focused on strengths/weaknesses/limitations.

Did YOU learn anything from the project? Did you make any changes to your teaching style or content?

I did not realize how much information the assessment tool would provide for also helping students with their personal statements and supplemental questions for graduate school applications. The assessment provides a detailed report of themes with explanations of how the themes might appear in various areas or characteristics of the assessment taker.

Can another teacher use your project? How can they implement your learning?

I believe the assessment is a valuable tool for instructors interested in putting students together on project work. The key themes would allow the instructor to put together a team with different strengths that could produce meaningful projects to the students as each would be playing to his or her strengths.

Do you have plans for a follow-up project/additional research? If you did a grant again, what would you change? What would you do differently?

We are in the process of surveying the graduates and part of the survey process will include follow up on how the information from the assessment tool has helped with the graduate school and job interview process.

Thank you, Dr. Delgato, for the report on your grant!

We sometimes think of sciences as cold and analytical and forget the ‘soft skills’ still play an important role. Check out these other examples of where instructors successfully incorporated art and literature into math and science:

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