Monitoring and Evaluating Life Skills 2/15: INDICATORS

For those of you conducting life skills activities or life skills training with young people or adult facilitators, Here is number 2 of 15 weekly posts on Monitoring and Evaluating Life Skills. Each of them are extracted from the Toolkit that I developed for the Jacobs Foundation with the help of many of their field partners and which you can download for FREE by clicking here. Please find the Life Skills Toolkit half way down the page under the heading, Intervention and Application. If you wish to have a hard (printed) copy please contact me with a short description of your work and why you would like the hard copy.  As always please comment on these posts and lets get a conversation going!

 Indicators for life skills are the characteristics of the skill that you will be examining in your monitoring and evaluation activities. Before monitoring and evaluating a life skill it is important to clarify what you mean by it and check that this meaning is shared by all those involved in implementing the life skills activities, including those involved in monitoring and evaluation.  Being clear about the indicators also helps to identify the best tools to use. On the next pages we set out suggestions for indicators of each of the 14 universal life skills. These lists clarify what we mean by each life skill. They are set out for readers to adopt or adapt and to inspire the development of new indicators.

Ideas for indicators of life skills 

Critical thinking and decision-making








  • Thinks about how to undertake a task.
  • Reflects on own confidence and competence 
  • Reflects on own strengths and qualities
  • Able to stop and think before taking action 
  • Thinks before blaming others for things that go wrong





  • Makes an informed decision that is specifically relevant to own situation and that may be against the tide
  • Able to make decisions independently form adults
  • The right decision for oneself is automatic


Flexible and creative thinking (The ability to develop new ideas and/or solutions)

  • Demonstrates ‘out of the box’ thinking
  • Has unexpected/original/new ideas  for solving problems
  • To be able to create a vision and to project oneself into the future





  • Finds a sensible, fair solution quickly
  • Suggest options
  • Is open to new ideas
  • Can distinguish needs and wants
  • Considers different sides to a problem (pros and cons)


Decision-making (The ability to gather information and assess options in order to make informed choices.)


  • Balances the risks/benefits of a course of action
  • Supports a decision with evidence and strong arguments
  • Listens effectively

Coping and self management


Self-awareness and self-esteem (to believe in one’s abilities, accept one’s weaknesses, and respect one’s own background)

  • Can  describe themselves in positive terms 
  • Can identify and describe a positive achievement
  • Can describe things that can realistically be changed in oneself, such as abilities, learning new things, developing better interpersonal skills, etc.
  • Can set and achieve goals and show accountability for one’s actions



Regulating emotions (deal with one’s feelings and to express them in a responsible manner

  • Able to react in a positive way when things go right/wrong
  • Able to understand own emotions and the emotions of others
  • Can calm down quickly after an emotionally intense experience/situation




Managing stress

  • Has an awareness of how we physically respond to stress
  • Has ideas about how to cope with stress
  • Knows what stress is

Interpersonal skills and making a contribution




Social responsibility and cooperativeness

  • Takes on tasks to help the community
  • Helps others at a cost to oneself (time, money, hardship)
  • Able to give and accept others' gifts (even time)
  • Works with others to achieve a common goal and to compromise when needed





  • Able to understand other's feelings and thoughts
  • Feels with another's feelings
  • Able to express why helping others is important
  • Finds satisfaction in helping others




Establishing and maintaining relationships

  • Has and can describe a network of important relationships
  • Able to draw a coherent relationship chart/constellation
  • Can articulate what a relationship is
  • Can describe characteristics of different types of relationships
  • Can describe what is needed to maintain a relationship
  • Can appreciate the ups and downs of relationships




Respects and appreciates others

  • Can describe the importance of others in their life and why these others are important
  • Able to responds sympathetically and thoughtfully to a story about a friend being sick
  • Respects others opinions even when different from own

Communication (the ability to express oneself effectively, understand others and respond to different people in different situations)




Expression of thoughts, emotions, and motives/values,

  • Has a vocabulary for feelings and thoughts
  • Can express oneself in a variety of ways (art, music, poetry etc)
  • Behaves cooperatively in a group
  • Asks thought-provoking questions





  • Able to talk about the roles, responsibilities and drawbacks of own gender in a way that shows strength and pride
  • Responds to a provocative question with own views, ideas and confidence
  • Able to express own ideas and perspectives even when different from ones own
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