The Evidence Portal

REAL Girls

About the program

REAL Girls is a 3-day school-based intervention which seeks to enhance intrapersonal characteristics of academic self-efficacy and interpersonal characteristics of school connectedness and identity.

Who does it work for?

REAL Girls is designed for 13-17 year old adolescents with a history of delinquency. REAL Girls has only been evaluated in the USA. A quasi-experimental design study was conducted with 48 participants. Participants were aged 12-14 years, and most were 13 years old. All (100%) participants were female, most identified as Caucasian (55%) and all (100%) had a confirmed history of developmental challenges including family fragmentation, abuse or neglect, history of academic failure or mental health diagnoses.

REAL Girls has not been evaluated in Australia or with Aboriginal Australians.

What outcomes does it contribute to?

Positive outcomes:

  • Real Girls participants reported higher levels of academic self-efficacy
  • Real Girls participants reported higher levels of school connectedness
  • Real Girls participants reported improvement in confidence in their identity

How effective is it?

Overall, Real Girls had a positive effect on client outcomes.

How strong is the evidence?

Promising research evidence:

  • At least one high-quality randomised controlled trial (RCT)/quasi-experimental design (QED) study reports statistically significant positive effects for at least one outcome, AND
  • Fewer RCT/QED studies of similar size and quality show no observed effects than show statistically significant positive effects, AND
  • No RCT/QED studies show statistically significant adverse effects.

How is it implemented?

Real Girls is conducted over 3 days during two full school days with a 2-hour booster treatment 10 days later. The intervention is delivered in school settings by trained school personnel.

The core elements of Real Girls include: choosing a private or special location; creating a create a high-energy atmosphere; developing supportive and cohesive teams; providing attentive adult women as role models (“Big Sister”); journaling; games; ceremonies; arts and crafts; and providing post-intervention memorabilia such as t-shirts, trinkets and letters from Big Sisters.

How much does it cost?

The costs for Real Girls were not reported in the study.

Where does the evidence come from?

1 QED conducted in the USA with a sample of 48 participants (Mann et. al, 2015).

Further resources

Mann, MJ, Smith, ML, & Kristjansson, AL 2015, ‘Improving academic self-efficacy, school connectedness, and identity in struggling middle school girls: A preliminary study of the REAL girls program’, Health Education & Behavior, vol. 42, pp. 117-126, DOI 10.1177/1090198114543005.

Last updated:

09 Dec 2022

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