Suchetha Bhat, CEO, Dream a Dream
Life Skills Assessment Scale
Measuring Life Skills Programmes
Dream a Dream is invested in understanding the challenges that young people face and in designing solutions with them since the year 2000. Over the last 19 years, Dream a Dream has seen an emergence of innovative work around young people in India and globally. Increasingly, organizations have recognized the need for interventions that help young people overcome adversity and flourish in the 21st century.
In 2006, Dream a Dream was struggling to measure the impact of its Life Skills Programmes. The organization looked at standardized scales around the world and either they measured specific life skills or they were not contextual to disadvantaged communities. Hence, the organization explored the idea of developing an assessment scale of its own. Working with Clinical Psychologists from the UK – Dr. Fiona Kennedy and Dr. David Pearson, led to the development of the Life Skills Assessment Scale (LSAS) which was launched in 2008 and published in 2014.
This assessment tool was designed as a simple observation based scale to be used by a facilitator of life skills programmes. The scale assesses 5 core life skills – a) Ability to take initiative b) Ability to interact with one another c) Ability to solve problems d) Ability to manage conflict e) Ability to understand and follow instructions, using a 5-point Likert scale.
Till date, the published paper has been downloaded/read over 10,000 times and has received 14 citations. Within Dream a Dream LSAS has been administered with over 42,970 young people since 2013-14. We have 9 organisations utilising the scale within India and 4 organisations utilising the scale outside the country.
New Extended Age Norms:
In 2020 Dr. David Pearson, Dr. Fiona Kennedy, Vishal Talreja, Suchetha Bhat and Katherine Newman-Taylor published ‘The Life Skills Assessement Scale: Norms for Young People aged 17-19 and 20-22 years’ that tested and established the extended age norms for the LSAS tool.
These new extended norms allow the LSAS tool to be used with a wider base including adolescents and youth in life skill assessments in higher education programmes, vocational training programmes and job-skilling programmes. This increases the spaces and the scope of areas where this innovation can be used. It truly allows us to accompany children on their journey into adulthood.
The LSAS can be used for:
• Measuring programme impact - finding out how effective interventions are at increasing Life Skills among disadvantaged children/youth.
• Getting a skills profile for an individual child/youth - looking at five different Life Skills to see relative strengths in an individual child/youth.
• Comparing how one child/youth compares with the average scores for their age group.
• Allocating a child/youth to the programme best for them.
• Comparing one programme with another - discover which Life Skills are best developed by a given programme.
• Feedback on progress - letting stakeholders (donors, parents, teachers, carers, children, youth) see progress visually.
The LSAS can be used by:
• NGOs - Give feedback to stakeholders, inform programme strategy and maximise effectiveness.
• Donors - Make better-informed decisions about funding allocation and support.
• Researchers - Advance the study of Life Skills.
• Clinicians - Use Life Skills as an outcome measure alongside mental health measures and know it is appropriate for disadvantaged Indian children.
• Programme developers - Check out programme performance at an early stage.
• Carers - Keep track of the progress of children in your care.
• Vocational Training Institutes, Higher Education Institutes, Colleges, Universities – Allows to identify and develop contextualized teaching methods best suited to develop all students
• Employers – Gain an understanding of new employees, their relative strengths and where they can be mentored by the Employers
The scale is an open source instrument and can be used to measure improvements in Life Skills amongst disadvantaged kids anywhere in the world in the 8-22 age group.
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