In APU’s Leadership Minor, students learn from instructors who teach from a strengths-oriented perspective. Faculty incorporate a strengths-based approach in individual and group assignments tailored around the unique strengths of students in their class. Over the course of a semester, faculty view students with a “strengths mindset” by calling out, expecting, and believing the best.
Among the five courses that comprise the Leadership Minor program, LDRS 322 Leadership Strengths and Skills delves deepest into the student experience. With a “strengths-plus” approach, instructors introduce students to related themes beyond StrengthsQuest and use the work of positive psychologists Marcus Buckingham, Carol Dweck, Rodney Cox, and others as important supplements to standard strengths research. LDRS 322 also addresses strengths development as a necessary follow-up to strengths identification, a key issue of which many strengths advocates have recently become aware. Through this curriculum, students can maximize and personalize their strengths within on-campus leadership contexts and beyond.
Beginnings (First-Year Student Orientation)
Offered by the Office of Orientation and Transitions, Beginnings welcomes new undergraduate students to life at APU, addressing topics such as academic success, diversity, and global awareness, and provides students with a solid foundation in strengths learning and development.
For 10 weeks, Beginnings students meet in large-group “classes” and with small Alpha groups led by student leaders, earning 1 unit of course credit toward graduation. Early in the course, students take the StrengthsQuest assessment and learn their top five signature strengths. In subsequent Beginnings sessions, student storytelling provides a venue that enables students to better understand each of Gallup’s 34 signature themes. Alpha leaders meet with each of their first-year students to discuss how to apply their strengths in learning and in relationships.
By identifying strengths at the start of their academic experience, new undergraduate students can further develop their strengths throughout their studies at APU and in the years beyond. For more information about Beginnings and the Office of Orientation and Transitions, contact Stacie Champine at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Providing vocational and career-preparation services for undergraduate and graduate students, APU’s Office of Career Services maintains strengths as central to the philosophy and practice of career counseling. As reflected in their mission statement, “Azusa Pacific University Career Services exists for the purpose of equipping students to discern their calling and empowering them to steward their strengths and abilities in order to advance the work of Christ in the world.”
Career Services pairs the StrengthsQuest with other assessment tools to help students identify where they will best fit as they consider a major and job opportunities for life after college. While most undergraduate students take the StrengthsQuest assessment during their first year, those who have not yet identified their strengths may take the assessment for a small fee. After a student completes the StrengthsQuest assessment, Career Services staff use a series of activities and questions to help students align their newly identified strengths with possible career options.
Within the context of a strengths-enriched learning culture, APU students can find more meaningful answers to their questions about career and vocation, learning how to best apply their unique combination of strengths and abilities to answer the call of a world in need.
For more information about APU Career Services, contact Doug Stude at email@example.com.
Student Leadership Programs
Alpha Leader Training
Sophomores, juniors, and seniors, can be Alpha leaders. Each Alpha leader provides 10 weeks of peer leadership for a group of approximately 10 freshmen via the Beginnings course. Alpha leaders use positive and practical ways to keep strengths top of mind among the members of their groups.
Before the fall semester, Alpha leaders join staff from the Office of Orientation and Transitions for two weeks of training. During training, the Noel Academy provides a one-day session on strengths, focusing particularly on taking students deeper into strengths thinking. Through this partnership, the academy and the Office of Orientation and Transitions hope Alpha leaders serve as pacesetters for freshmen by fielding questions about the 34 signature strengths and facilitating a strengths-based community among their students.