Cantwell receives strengths-based award

An assistant professor of communication at Tabor College received the “Greatest Contribution: Strengths Impact Award” from the Gallup Organization last month. Linda Cantwell was recognized for her integration of strength-based philosophy of teaching and learning into two marketing classes at Tabor.

The award was given at the National Conference on Building a Strengths-Based Campus: Best Practices in Maximizing Student Performance at The Gallup Organization: University-Riverfront Campus in Omaha, Neb., held Jan. 21 to 25.

Receiving this award allowed Cantwell to be a breakout session presenter. She described her marketing classes and how a strengths-based philosophy is integrated into those classes. It also allowed her to participate in the Campus Showcase.

“I showcased Tabor’s work in developing the talents of its students with pictures of my marketing students, activities they had completed, and projects they had worked on during the term that showed a strengths-based philosophy in action at Tabor,” she said.

In addition, Cantwell, a higher education researcher with Gallup, was invited to co-write a book on strengths-based teaching and curriculum with Chip Anderson and Laurie Schriener.

“That is really my second award -an invitation to write a book with my two major advisers and paid researchers with The Gallup Organization (at Azusa Pacific University, the Center for Strengths-Based Education),” said Cantwell.

The strengths-finder instrument, according to Cantwell, was developed by Gallup after 2 million interviews were conducted.

“Over 200 of the Fortune 500 companies now use this research on behaviors, attitudes, beliefs, thought patterns and motivations that make people effective, efficient and sustain efforts toward excellence with employees thinking low turnover equals productivity equals profitability,” she said.

“With the publication of the StrengthsQuest book in July 2002, we are now looking at the impact of what this might look like in higher education impacting student learning, satisfaction and retention.”

Cantwell is also personally invested in the strengths-based philosophy.

“My great interest in this strengths revolution comes from my belief that Ephesians 2:10 is true when it states, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand for us to do,'” she said.

“I love that, for I do believe that each student in my class has been uniquely created by God. Each and every student in my class has been strategically placed in my sphere of influence for some important reason. Each and every student already has within him or her all of the strengths and talents he or she needs to achieve and persist to graduation. And, most of my students neither know their strengths nor how to apply them in order to achieve to levels of excellence or fulfill God’s plan for their life.”

Cantwell will now take the pedagogical template from her marketing classes and try to transfer it to two public speaking sections in the fall for her dissertation research.

Other institutions represented at the conference included: Baylor University, Illinois State University, Greenville College, University of Nebraska, University of Kansas, Azusa Pacific University, Crafton Hills Community College, Kingsborough Community College, University of Oklahoma, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, Nebraska Wesleyan University, Lee University and Reformed Bible College.

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