Naming our strengths

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Recently I had the privilege of attending a Faculty Commons presentation  on StrengthsFinder.  For those unfamiliar with it, StrengthsFinder comes out of positive psychology.  Those taking the assessment get a report on their dominant talent themes  from among  the 34 it contains (Spross, Jenkins, & Parker, 2014) .  What does StrengthsFinder have to do with information literacy?

Firstly it gives us a common language for understanding each other.  The ACRL framework (2014) mentions the ability to “communicate effectively with collaborators in shared spaces and learn from multiple points of view” (p. 6).

It also helps us name talents which might be otherwise difficult to articulate.  With this naming also comes the responsibility to use the talents wisely.  The ACRL framework (2014) makes a similar point about acknowledging our own expertise (p. 7).

Finally strengths-based education is not a one-time thing: it involves ongoing reflection and practice.  Likewise information literacy develops through ongoing practice.

Of course this tool  is only a tool.  Still, it is one worth exploring.  You can find out more at the USM Strengths website (2014).

P.S.  Though I use the terms strength and talent interchangeably for convenience, the two terms have distinct meanings in StrengthsFinder.   The General Information on the Strengths website (2014) explains the difference.  I also use Strengths Quest and Strengths Finder interchangeably.

P.P.S. For those who already know about StrengthsFinder, my signature themes are: input, learner, intellection, harmony, and developer.


Association of College & Research Libraries (2014). Framework for information literacy for higher education: Revised draft.  Retrieved from

Spross, J., Jenkins, D., & Parker, H. (2014, October 7).  Title III and Strengths Finder information session.  Presentation for the USM Faculty Commons.

 University of Southern Maine (2014). USM strengths. Retrieved from