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  • Writer's pictureSPRINT project

Beyond Elite Athletes: How do Young People Experience Mental Skills Training?

Updated: Jul 3, 2023

My Strengths Training for Life™ (MST4Life™) is a strengths-based programme that trains mental skills commonly used by world leading athletes to help young people experiencing homelessness.

It was developed and delivered by SPRINT Project team members and charity partners St Basils.

Researchers in the SPRINT Project wanted to understand and share knowledge about how young people experience MST4Life™. To do this they completed a New World Kirkpatrick model process evaluation and published the findings in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.


What is a New World Kirkpatrick model process evaluation?

Originally created to help business leaders answer questions about projects and their outcomes, the model provides a structured framework for researchers to gather and understand information about the processes and individual characteristics that influence the success of educational programmes.

There are 5 levels to a New World Kirkpatrick process evaluation, these are:

1. Reaction

Gathering information on and understanding individuals’ responses to the programme, including level of engagement.

2. Learning

Gathering information on and understanding the extent to which individuals acquired programme knowledge.

3. Behaviour

Gathering information on and understanding individuals changes in behaviour due to the programme.

4. Results

Gathering information on and understanding the impact of the programme on broad organisational objectives.

5. Return on expectations

Gathering information on and understanding the extent to which charity partners and stakeholders’ expectations were met.


What did the SPRINT team want to find out?

The team focused on level 1 and 2 of the New World Kirkpatrick process evaluation.

This involved gathering information on and understanding young peoples’ reactions and learning whilst completing the MST4Life™ programme.

The team also wanted to explore how reactions and learning were linked and if there were things that influenced this.

So, what was found?

  • Young people who were more engaged with MST4Life™ had better reactions to it.

  • Young people who enjoyed MST4Life™ more had better learning outcomes.

  • The link between enjoyment of MST4Life™ and learning outcomes was influenced by young people’s desire to use the mental skills they had learnt in the future.


Key takeaways

  • The New World Kirkpatrick model provides a highly beneficial framework to understand the processes and contextual factors that influence educational programme outcomes.

  • Engagement and enjoyment in MST4Life™ are important to the creation of optimal learning outcomes.

  • Young people should be given future opportunities to practice the mental skills learnt in MST4Life™.


You can read the academic paper here and find out about the mental skills that are trained in My Strengths Training for Life™ by downloading the related mental skills toolkit.



Cumming, J., Whiting, R., Parry, B. J., Clarke, F. J., Holland, M. J. G., Cooley, S. J., & Quinton, M. L. (2022). The My Strengths Training for Life program: Rationale, logic model, and description of a strengths-based intervention for young people experiencing homelessness. Evaluation and Program Planning, 91, 102045.

Kirkpatrick, J., & Kirkpatrick, W. (2023, June 1). An Introduction to the New World Kirkpatrick Model.

Quinton, M. L., Tidmarsh, G., Parry, B. J., & Cumming, J. A. (2022). Kirkpatrick Model Process Evaluation of Reactions and Learning from My Strengths Training for Life™. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(18):11320.


Photo credit: Dr Mark Holland.

Written by Dr Sally Reynard, Research Associate in the SPRINT Project.

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