May 24, 2019  

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Student, Professor Blog for Academic Journal

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A graduate student and one of his mentor professors at The University of Southern Mississippi are featured authors of a new weblog for an academic journal, following a positive response to an article the two wrote for the publication.

Josh Schutts, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Educational Research’s Research, Evaluation, Statistics and Assessment (RESA) program, and associate professor Dr. Forrest Lane recently published an article in the Journal of College & Character.  The article, titled "Predicting the Presence of Purpose through the Self-Efficacy Beliefs in One's Talents," is one of the journal’s most downloaded pieces. 

“The aim of our study was to improve our understanding about how popular personality/talent inventories such as the Clifton StrengthsFinder fit within positive psychology and college student development literature,” Lane said.

Editors for the journal then requested that the two serve as featured authors of its first weblog. It is posted in Connexions, the NASPA Weekly Update and NASPA Right Now and can be found at http://www.naspa.org/publications/journals/posts/lane-schutts.

Schutts is a former director of Greek Life at Southern Miss who now serves as Associate Director of Institutional Effectiveness at the University of West Florida.

“Some of the key findings from our research were that one's intent to act upon their talents (hope) was positively related to their belief in them (strengths self-efficacy); and, higher levels of hope were associated with increased well-being and the presence of purpose in their life,” said Schutts.

Schutts said he and Lane see the findings of their research as an asset in guiding student affairs practitioners who desire to use talent identification inventories like StrengthsFinder in their work with college students. “We conclude the blog entry with several suggestions for future research, coupled with parting thoughts and unanswered questions,” Schutts said.

One point of interest in the study’s findings, Lane said, was the importance of hope, often defined as one’s intent to act. “To our knowledge, hope is not an outcome associated with student affairs professional standards, and we are left to wonder why,” he said.

Citing research from other scholars, Lane said it has been suggested that hope is “an activating force that enables people, even when faced with the most overwhelming obstacles, to envision a promising future and to set and pursue goals,” (Helland & Winston, 2005, p. 43). 

“It (hope) is the fuel of our resolve, yet seems potentially ignored in favor of the destination. The destination is undoubtedly important but self-awareness without an intent to act seems lacking in its transformative nature,” Lane said. “In this way, we see hope as a verb linking inputs with outcomes and worth exploring in our professional work in developing college students.”

For information about the Department of Educational Studies and Research and its programs, visit www.usm.edu/resa.