Evaluation Study on TWF Life Skills Programme 2012-2013
The Women’s Foundation’s Life Skills Programme was launched in 2011. The main goal of the Programme is to teach mid-to-late Hong Kong teens to examine, question, and challenge the status quo, to replace negative stereotypes with positive images, and to feel empowered to bring about positive life changes at university, the workplace, and beyond. The curriculum covers important life skills focusing on financial literacy, healthy relationships, and well-being, as well as life and career planning. Given the value placed by TWF on objective and incisive research and evidence-based strategies and approaches, TWF engaged independent research team who were selected by our Steering Committee comprising independent subject matter experts through a tender exercise to conduct the evaluation. A team from the Social Work Department of The Chinese University of Hong Kong study was selected to assess the effectiveness of the Programme and to analyse the different components of the Programme for their utility and relevance.
The study adopted both quantitative and qualitative research methods to conduct subjective outcome evaluation, objective outcome evaluation, and process evaluation. For the subjective outcome evaluation, a survey was used to collect participants’ opinions with regards to the workshops and instructors. In relation to the objective outcome evaluation, a one-group pre-test and post-test follow-up test design was used to assess the Programme in terms of its effectiveness in (1) improving the adolescent participants’ sense of self-worth (self-esteem), (2) assisting them in searching for their own life goals (meaning in life), (3) helping them to discover and affirm their own ability to achieve their goals (self-efficacy), (4) raising their knowledge and skills with regards to financial management, (5) enhancing their interpersonal skills (feeling of relaxation in social contacts and listening skills), and (6) arousing their awareness of social stigma and gender inequality (critical thinking ability and agreement with gender equality). For the process evaluation, focus groups were arranged to explore participants’ experiences, learning, and perceptions of the Programme.
The results of the subjective outcome evaluation showed that an overwhelming majority (87.9% to 97.5%) of the participants rated the program and the performance of the instructors positively. The objective outcome evaluation indicated that the participants experienced substantial improvements in their sense of self-esteem, presence of meaning in life, feeling of relaxation in social contacts, willingness to participate in family financial management, and critical thinking ability. In addition, almost all of these positive impacts are sustainable. Furthermore, focus group participants expressed their appreciation for the passionate instructors, interactive activities, and insightful discussions and reflections on issues that they rarely or have never explored.
The synthesis of the quantitative and qualitative research findings suggest that the Life Skills Program can consider making the following changes for the sake of excellence. First, the program should focus more on enhancing students’ constructive evaluations of their own competence and problem-solving ability. Second, the sensitivity of male adolescents towards gender biases should be strengthened as part of the program. Third, the involvement of students in choosing topics and designing the activities should be promoted. Fourth, adequate debriefings on activities should be provided and students should be given enough time to figure out the fundamental meaning of what they are learning in relation to their lived experiences and daily situations. Fifth, close interactions and open discussions among students should be fostered. Sixth, instructors should strive to create and consolidate an interactive learning atmosphere through a dialogical form of relationships and positive modeling, with the assumption that students are active rather than passive learners.