Design a Better Group Project Experience for Dpt Students Using Strengthsfinder
Purpose: The purpose of this session is to provide educators with an understanding of StrengthsFinder and it’s possible applications to DPT curriculum for group assignment, teambuilding, student’s strengths awareness and personal development. Many DPT programs include courses with group projects and significant amounts of graded group work. Often group composition is a challenge. There are many ways groups can be formed including self- selection, randomization, and faculty assignment. Gallup’s StrengthsFinder is a tool that is used in professional settings to assess individual strengths and facilitate team development. We implemented StrengthsFinder concepts as a learning module in a leadership and management class within the DPT curriculum. Then we assigned students to groups based on complementary strengths as opposed to letting them self-select their group assignment as they had done previously in other courses. Our follow-up survey and measures of group performance explored the impact of strengths instruction on students and their group work. Methods and/or Description of Project: The department of physical therapy worked with a colleague in the business school at our university who had specialized training in the use of StrengthsFinder to design a curricular module for DPT students. The faculty member from the business school led the first 2 classes in a management course for DPT students and introduced the StrengthsFinder tool and theoretical background in positive psychology. Students completed an online StrengthsFinder assessment between the first and second class. During the second class, the students revealed their strengths to their classmates and participated in activities to further investigate their strengths. Following the 2 classes focusing on StrengthsFinder, the DPT faculty made group assignments for a semester long project with an emphasis on representing a variety of strengths in each group. Towards the end of the semester, students were surveyed using 5 questions from the Practice Environment Survey. The 5 questions assessed student perceptions of the functioning, effectiveness, and satisfaction of their group. Responses to the survey were compared to students in the same course during the prior year who were assigned to groups based on their preference for a particular topic. Grades on the project were also used as a measure of group performance. This interactive session will introduce the theory behind StrengthsFinder and how to utilize students’ strengths for group development in a DPT program. The results of our student survey will be discussed. Participants in the session will practice assigning students to groups based on example student StrengthsFinder reports. The presenters will use StrengthsFinder learning tools to encourage audience participation in learning about the strengths most commonly encountered when working with physical therapy students. Results/Outcomes: Educators will leave the session with an understanding of StrengthsFinder and it’s benefits for the DPT curriculum. Participants will be able to transfer knowledge of students’ strengths to design balanced teams for group work. Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme: Our session will contribute to Setting Sail: Discovering a New World of Opportunities by focusing on an innovative group design technique to foster effective teams within the DPT curriculum. Our hope is that this will impact other curricular and cocurricular aspects of the DPT program. Ultimately, our goal is that as physical therapy professionals, our students will recognize their future colleagues’ strengths in the workplace and develop effective teams throughout their careers as graduates of our program.