Research studies show that there are developmental issues amongst contemporary university students, including worsening mental health conditions such as rising depression and suicidal rates. There is a rising trend in adolescent egocentrism. Besides, empathy and sense of social responsibility amongst university students have declined in the past decades. With particular reference to Hong Kong, morbid emphasis on academic excellence is a defining feature of Chinese socialization. As such, there is an urgent need to consider how holistic development and quality of life of university students can be promoted, particularly through credit-bearing subjects.
To promote holistic development and quality of life in undergraduate students, two credit-bearing leadership subjects were developed at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU). The first subject is entitled “Tomorrow’s Leaders”. Based on the positive youth development (PYD) approach, it is argued that effective leaders should possess intrapersonal competence (such as resilience, moral competence, emotional competence, and spirituality) and interpersonal skills (such as conflict resolution and team building skills). The second subject is entitled “Service Leadership”. With the emergence of service economies, it is argued that everybody is a leader and effective service leaders should possess 3Cs – competence, character, and care.
To understand whether these two subjects did promote the leadership qualities and well-being of the students, multiple evaluation studies were carried out. These included objective outcome evaluation (pretest-posttest differences), subjective outcome evaluation, and qualitative evaluation using focus groups and reflection forms. For “Tomorrow’s Leaders”, evaluation findings suggest that the subject can promote PYD attributes in the students who had taken the subject. For “Service Leadership”, evaluation research based on different approaches suggests that the subject is able to promote leadership competence, character, and caring dispositions in the students.
Leadership Well-being Service leadership Evaluation Holistic youth development
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