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March 11, 2020

Trucke Elevates Teaching Through Strengths Training

Lincoln Project Develops Accounting Students
Trucke Elevates Teaching Through Strengths Training
Strengths training gave Trucke more insight into her own capabilities and to those of her students.

Bringing her extensive accounting experience into the classroom, Jill Trucke began her faculty career at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln College of Business in 2016. With a limited teaching background, Trucke gained confidence through Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach training, which she applied in the classroom to benefit students.

“Taking the strengths class helped me understand my own strengths better and I also learned so much about all the CliftonStrengths®,” said Trucke, assistant professor of practice in accounting. “Business students tend to rank high on Competition, so when I teach an accounting class I have a better understanding of the entire class makeup. When I talk to students one-on-one, I’m able to learn more about them and motivate them based on how their individual strengths manifest.”

Trucke, who worked as an auditor at Deloitte for 14 years prior to joining the School of Accountancy, initially took the CliftonStrengths assessment years ago to learn her top strengths. The strengths certification program gave her a better idea of how to utilize one of her strengths she mostly knew by name only.

“Before taking the strengths class, I tended to forget about my Developer strength. That’s my strength that gives me the greatest enjoyment for teaching because I want to see every student move to the next level regardless where they’re at,” she said.

Last fall, Trucke initiated a project in her Accounting Information Systems (ACCT 409/809) class with the City of Lincoln, Nebraska, which allowed students to access and analyze data belonging to the Lancaster County assessor office. Her Developer strength came to the forefront as she worked with the city and with her students to tackle the big job of assessing data to ensure numbers were accurate and collection methods were consistent.

“During the class project, I met with students multiple times to find out how they were progressing and whether they were going in the right direction while analyzing the data. I wanted students to see the big picture of what the project was about and then tackle it one step at a time. That was the Developer side of me, and then the Learner side had the curiosity that wanted to understand what students were presenting by asking them how they got their results,” said Trucke.

The Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach class which was taught in part by Dr. Timothy Hodges, executive director of the Clifton Strengths Institute, brought together 29 faculty and staff members from the college. Hodges explained the focus was to give them a greater understanding of how to leverage strengths in everyone.   

“The faculty learned how to integrate strength language into class in a meaningful way,” said Hodges. “It’s exciting to see Jill use her strengths not only to know who she is but to have a broader understanding of what different students bring to the table. For Jill to know her Developer strength means she can get excited about taking a real interest in seeing incremental growth from point A to point B. For her, to see that growth in her students makes her more confident as a faculty member and leads to more engagement between her and the students.”

Bailey Gardner, ’19, an MPA student from Lincoln, took part in the class project. Gardner plans on carrying that experience into her first professional accounting job at Deloitte in Omaha, Nebraska, which begins later this year.

“The project let me see exactly how messy data can be in the real-world,” said Gardner, who also assisted Trucke in a summer accounting program for high school students called Discover Accounting. “Jill helped make sure we understood everything she is trying to teach by using those methods in the project. She would relay our needs back to the city and at the end of the semester we presented our final project to the city. They appreciated our work because they don’t have time to examine the data as thoroughly as we were able to do.”

Also having a top strength of Achiever, Trucke felt proud of what her students were able to accomplish when they gave their final presentation. She believes her Developer strength can take things further if they do the project again.

“The Achiever, Learner and Developer in me all played a part in success of the project. Even though a lot of what we ended up doing was confirming things the city already suspected, our visualizations gave them some things they hadn’t seen before. It was a great partnership and, as a Developer, I can see how we could do things a little bit better the next time to give both sides an even better experience,” she said.

To learn more about the School of Accountancy, visit: https://business.unl.edu/accountancy.

To learn more about the Clifton Strengths Institute, visit: https://business.unl.edu/academic-programs/clifton-strengths-institute/.