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MDI

GUIDE

2015/2016 THE MIDDLE YEARS DEVELOPMENT INSTRUMENT

A GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING
YOUR MDI RESULTS

A GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING YOUR MDI RESULTS earlylearning.ubc.ca/mdi 1


The MDI team would like to extend its warmest appreciation to the students,
teachers, and administrators who made this project possible. Thank you for your
participation.

MDI research is made possible with funding from the United Way of the Lower
Mainland (UWLM) and school districts across BC. We would like to thank and
acknowledge the UWLM and all participating school districts for their support and
collaboration on this project.

HELP’s middle years research is led by Dr. Kimberly Schonert-Reichl. HELP


acknowledges Dr. Schonert-Reichl for her leadership in social and emotional
development research, her dedication to exploring children’s experiences in the
middle years and for raising the profile of children’s voices, locally and internationally.

HELP faculty and staff also would like to acknowledge our Founding Director, Dr. Clyde
Hertzman, whose life’s work is a legacy for the institute’s research. He continues
to inspire and guide our work and will always be celebrated as ‘a mentor to all who
walked with him.’

For more information please contact HELP’s MDI Project Coordinator:

Email: mdi@help.ubc.ca
Website: earlylearning.ubc.ca/mdi

Suggested citation
Human Early Learning Partnership. The Middle Years Development Instrument: A Guide to
Understanding Your MDI Results. Vancouver, BC: University of British Columbia, School of
Population and Public Health; May 2016.

A GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING YOUR MDI RESULTS earlylearning.ubc.ca/mdi 2


TABLE OF CONTENTS

Introduction
ABOUT THIS GUIDE 4
WHY THE MIDDLE YEARS MATTER 4
WHY CHILDREN’S VOICES? 4
ABOUT THE MDI 5
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE MDI 6
MDI DATA COLLECTION 6
VALIDITY OF RESULTS 6
PRIVACY AND DATA SUPPRESSION 7
HOW ARE MDI RESULTS REPORTED? 7
NEIGHBOURHOOD BOUNDARIES 7

Dimensions of the MDI 8


SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT 9
PHYSICAL HEALTH AND WELL-BEING 13
CONNECTEDNESS 15
USE OF AFTER-SCHOOL TIME 18
SCHOOL EXPERIENCES 22

The Well-being and Assets Indices 24


THE WELL-BEING INDEX 25
THE ASSETS INDEX 26
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN ASSETS AND WELL-BEING 27

Moving to Action with your MDI Results 28

Related References and Research 30

Additional Resources 34

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INTRODUCTION

ABOUT THIS GUIDE


The MDI companion, “A Guide to Understanding your MDI Results” was developed to support the interpretation and application of
MDI results for schools and communities. The guide provides:
• Information on the MDI survey questions, response scales and scoring methods for each dimension and measure;
• Answers to important questions related to data collection and privacy, mapping and reporting, as well as the reliability
and validity of the MDI;
• Recommendations for moving to action with your MDI results;
• Highlights from current research related to children’s healthy development during the middle years and evidence on the
importance of the MDI’s five dimensions of children’s well-being; and,
• Related research publications and online resources.

WHY THE MIDDLE YEARS MATTER


Middle childhood, from ages 6 to 12, marks a distinct period in human development. During this time, children experience
important cognitive, social and emotional changes that establish their lifelong identity and set the stage for adolescence and
adulthood. Research shows that a child’s overall health and well-being during this critical period of development affects their ability
to concentrate and learn, develop and maintain friendships, and make thoughtful decisions.
As children transition through elementary and middle school it is common to observe declines in children’s self-reported
confidence, self-concept, optimism, empathy, satisfaction with life and social responsibility. However, these declines are not
inevitable and while middle childhood is a time of risk, it is also a time of opportunity. There is mounting evidence to suggest
children’s positive connections to a parent, peer, or adult in the community results in greater empathy towards others, higher
optimism, and higher self-esteem.
The purpose of the Human Early Learning Partnership’s (HELP) middle years research is to gain a deeper understanding of how
populations of children are doing at this stage in their lives. Children’s perspectives on their experiences both inside and outside of
school provides us with important information to support evidence-based decisions on funding allocation, program delivery and
policy. The results also highlight our shared roles and responsibilities in supporting children’s health and well-being through their
environments, relationships and experiences.

WHY CHILDREN’S VOICES?


The MDI upholds Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which emphasizes the importance of
children’s voices: ‘When adults are making decisions that affect children, children have a right to say what they think should
happen and have their opinions taken into account.” (United Nations, 1989).
The MDI is a unique tool that allows children’s voices to be heard. It gives us insight into areas that have great significance in
children’s lives but are not typically evaluated by other assessment tools. Rather than evaluating academic progress, the MDI gives
children an opportunity to communicate their experiences, feelings and wishes. See “Validity of Results” section of this report for
more information on the validity and reliability of children’s self-report assessments.

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INTRODUCTION

ABOUT THE MDI


The Middle Years Development Instrument (MDI) is a self-report questionnaire
that goes beyond academics by asking children in grades 4 and 7 about their
thoughts, feelings and experiences in school and in the community. The MDI is not
12yrs an assessment for individual children. Instead, it is a unique and comprehensive
population-based measure that helps us gain a deeper understanding of children’s
health and well-being during middle childhood.
9yrs The MDI uses a strengths-based approach to assess five dimensions of development
that are strongly linked to well-being, health, academic achievement and success
throughout the school years and in later life.

The 5 Dimensions of the MDI

Social and Emotional Development: Optimism, empathy, happiness, prosocial


behaviour, self-esteem.

Physical Health and Well-being: General health, body image, nutrition,


sleeping patterns.

Connectedness: Presence of supportive adults, sense of belonging with peers.


Additional reading on the
development of the MDI: School Experiences: Academic self-concept, school climate, bullying.

Schonert-Reichl, K. (2011). Middle


Use of After-School Time: Time spent engaged in organized activities,
childhood inside and out: The psychological
lessons, watching TV, playing video games, socializing with friends.
and social worlds of Canadian children ages
9-12, Full Report. Report for the United
Way of the Lower Mainland. Vancouver: Each of these dimensions is made up of several measures and each measure is made
University of British Columbia. up of one or more questions. The Grade 4 version of the MDI contains 77 questions,
while the Grade 7 MDI has 101 questions.
Available online at
earlylearning.ubc.ca/mdi. Most questions ask children to rate their agreement with a series of statements.
For example; “I start most days thinking I will have a good day.” 1) Disagree a lot,
2) Disagree a little, 3) Don’t agree or disagree, 4) Agree a little, or 5) Agree a lot.
The MDI emphasizes the protective factors and assets in a child’s life that are known
to support and optimize development. MDI results provide educators, parents,
researchers, community organizations, and policy makers with information about the
psychological and social worlds of children during middle childhood. As a population
measure the MDI allows us to see trends and patterns in how populations of children
in middle years are doing over time. By reviewing and sharing MDI results, the
opinions and concerns of children are validated and decision-makers are better
prepared to move toward actions that will create supportive environments where
children can thrive.

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INTRODUCTION

Additional reading on the validity A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE MDI


of children’s self-report:
In 2009, the Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP) at the University of British
Columbia (UBC), in partnership with the United Way of the Lower Mainland,
Schonert-Reichl, K., Guhn, M., developed a tool to gather information about the lives of children in Grade 4: The
Gadermann, A., Hymel, S., Sweiss, L., & Middle Years Development Instrument (MDI). The survey items were selected by
Hertzman, C. (2013). Development and children, parents and educators and were tested rigorously to ensure the survey
validation of the Middle Years Development produced data of sound reliability and validity.
Instrument (MDI): Assessing children’s well- Since its first implementation with Grade 4 students in Vancouver in 2009, the MDI
being and assets across multiple contexts. has expanded rapidly across British Columbia. The questionnaire has been completed
Social Indicators Research, 114(2): 345-369. by over 23,000 Grade 4 students across the province. The Grade 7 survey was first
implemented in 2012-13 and since then has been completed by over 9,000 students.
Varni, J. , Limbers, C. , & Burwinkle, T.
(2007). How young can children reliably MDI DATA COLLECTION
and validly self-report their health-related Participation in the MDI is voluntary. Participating schools send information letters
quality of life?: An analysis of 8,591 children home with students. Parents may withdraw their children at any time and children
across age subgroups with the PedsQL™ 4.0 also have the option to decline participation. Data collection is currently conducted
Generic Core Scales. Health and Quality of in public schools. Students complete the MDI during class time, under teacher or
Life Outcomes, 5(1): 1-13. principal supervision, during the month of November.

VALIDITY OF RESULTS
Previous research has found that responses from children in Grade 4 and above are
as reliable and valid as responses from adults. A total of four studies were conducted
to test the validity of the MDI survey, including two initial pilots in 2008, and two
district-wide pilots in both urban and rural communities in 2009 and 2010. Results
from these studies showed the MDI to have both strong reliability and validity. Data
checks are repeated every year to ensure the data collected each year meets rigorous
research standards.

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INTRODUCTION

PRIVACY AND DATA SUPRESSION


The protection of children’s privacy is a key consideration for researchers and staff
working with MDI data. The systems and processes used to collect, store and report
on MDI data, meet or exceed the requirements of provincial and federal privacy
legislation. Names and addresses of children are not collected. Some identifier
data, such as postal codes and dates of birth, are used to assist with analysis and
reporting. Identifiable information is removed before records are encrypted and stored
in a highly secure data storage facility at the University of British Columbia. Where
neighbourhoods or districts contain fewer than 35 children the results are suppressed
to ensure that individual children cannot be identified.

HOW ARE MDI RESULTS REPORTED?


MDI
GRADE 4

Data collected from the MDI questionnaires are reported at three different levels of
geography: school, neighbourhood and school district.
School Reports – Contain data specific to the population of children who participated
in the MDI at an individual school. These reports are internal and are not released
SCHOOL DISTRICT 8 KOOTENAY LAKE
publicly. School reports can be shared with teachers, parents and community partners
SCHOOL DISTRICT
MDIREPORT
& COMMUNITY at the discretion of the school district administration.
GRADE 7

School District and Community Reports - Contain data representing all of the children
who were surveyed within a school district. Data are aggregated and averages are
reported at both the school district and the neighbourhood levels:
2015/16 GRADE 4 RESULTS

• School district data - Averages are reported for all children who participated
SCHOOL DISTRICT 8 KOOTENAY LAKE

SCHOOL DISTRICT within the geographic school district boundary.


& COMMUNITY REPORT
• Neighbourhood data - Averages are reported for all children living within a
particular neighbourhood. These data are aggregated using children’s home
postal codes, not by where they attend school.
School District and Community Reports are made publicly available at
2015/16 GRADE 7 RESULTS

132 Ave

128 Ave www.earlylearning.ubc.ca/maps/mdi/nh.


224 St
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Dewdney Trunk Rd

NEIGHBOURHOOD BOUNDARIES
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200 St

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adjust geographical boundaries as needed. MDI maps and reports are continuously
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and to coincide with census and taxfiler data. In most cases, boundaries are also set
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56 Ave
Gladwin Rd
Bradner Rd

City North 52 Ave

Langley
Murrayville Rural Langley to neighbourhoods with a minimum number of 50 children. These considerations
an Rd

City Downes Rd
South
have reduced the number of neighbourhoods where data are suppressed due to low
192 St
184 St

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168 St

208 St

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Maclure Rd

numbers of children, while at the same time ensuring accuracy and precision of MDI
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216 St

232 St

32 Ave Aldergrove South Fraser Way

Brookswood - Fernridge data.


264 St

272 St
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Marshall Rd

24 Ave
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An interactive map of neighbourhood boundaries, complete with street names, can be


King Rd
Clearbrook Rd

16 Ave

found at: www.earlylearning.ubc.ca/maps/interactive.


Huntingdon Rd

8 Ave

A GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING YOUR MDI RESULTS earlylearning.ubc.ca/mdi 7


DIMENSIONS OF THE MDI

The MDI uses a strengths-based approach to assess five areas of development that are strongly linked to
children’s well-being, health and academic achievement. It focuses on highlighting the protective factors
and assets that are known to support and optimize development in middle childhood. These areas are:
Social and Emotional Development, Physical Health and Well-Being, Connectedness, Use of After-School
Time and School Experiences. Each of these dimensions is made up of several measures and each measure
is made up of one or more questions. The chart below illustrates the relationship between MDI dimensions
and measures, and highlights which measures contribute to the Well-Being and Assets Indices.

5 DIMENSIONS OF THE MDI

SOCIAL & EMOTIONAL PHYSICAL HEALTH & CONNECTEDNESS USE OF SCHOOL


DEVELOPMENT WELL-BEING AFTER-SCHOOL TIME EXPERIENCES

MEASURES MEASURES MEASURES MEASURES MEASURES


Optimism General Health Adults at School Organized Activities Academic Self-Concept
Empathy Eating Breakfast Adults in the - Educational Lessons School Climate
Prosocial Behaviour Meals with Neighbourhood or Activities School Belonging
Self-Esteem Adults at Home Adults at Home - Youth Organizations Motivation
Happiness Frequency of Peer Belonging - Sports Future Goals
Absence of Sadness Good Sleep Friendship Intimacy - Music or Arts Victimization and
Absence of Worries Body Image Important Adults How Children Spend Bullying
Self-Regulation Their Time
(Short & Long Term) After-School People
*Responsible and Places
Decision-Making Children's Wishes and
*Self-Awareness Barriers
*Perseverance
*Assertiveness
*Citizenship and Social
Responsibility
* Grade 7 only

WELL-BEING INDEX ASSETS INDEX


A measure in the Well-Being Index A measure in the Assets Index

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DIMENSIONS OF THE MDI SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT

SOCIAL AND Social and emotional well-being is critical for children’s successful development
EMOTIONAL across the life span. When children are able to understand and manage their emotions
they are better able to show empathy and maintain positive relationships. Social and
DEVELOPMENT
emotional well-being is associated with greater motivation and success in school, as
well as positive outcomes later in life: post-secondary education, employment, healthy
Response Options lifestyles and psychological well-being.
The MDI asks children to respond to questions about their current social and
Agree a lot
emotional functioning in the following areas: optimism, empathy, prosocial behaviour,
Agree a little self-esteem, happiness, self-regulation and psychological well-being. In addition, the
Don’t agree or disagree Grade 7 questionnaire asks about the following: responsible decision-making, self-
Disagree a little awareness, perseverance and assertiveness.
Disagree a lot
OPTIMISM. Optimism refers to the mindset of having positive expectations for the
Scoring
future. Optimism predicts a range of long-term benefits including greater success
in school and work, less likelihood of depression and anxiety, greater satisfaction
High: Children whose average
in relationships, better physical health and longer life. It is also a strong predictor
responses were ‘Agree a little’
of resiliency for children facing adversity. Children are asked to rate the following
or ‘Agree a lot’
statements:
Medium: Children whose
• I have more good times than bad times.
average responses were ‘Don’t
agree or disagree’ or those • I believe more good things than bad things will happen to me.
who reported a mix of positive
and negative responses • I start most days thinking I will have a good day.
Low: Children whose average
responses were ‘Disagree a EMPATHY. Empathy is the experience of feeling what another person feels. Research
little’ or ‘Disagree a lot’ shows empathic children are better able to foresee the negative social consequences
of their actions and are better able to problem-solve during challenging situations.
Example Result Children are asked to rate the following statements:
0% 25% 50% 75% 100% • I am a person who cares about the feelings of others.

%
61% • I feel sorry for other kids who don’t have the things that I have.

%
28% • When I see someone being mean it bothers me.
12%
%
Average for all participating PROSOCIAL BEHAVIOUR. Prosocial behaviour is behaving in socially appropriate and
school districts. responsible ways. Not only are prosocial skills valued by teachers, they may also
protect against bullying from peers. Prosocial children demonstrate greater empathic
awareness than either bullies or children targeted by bullies. Children are asked to rate
the following statements:
Response Options
for Prosocial Behaviour questions • I helped someone who was hurt.
Many times a week
• I helped someone who was being picked on.
About every week
About every month • I cheered someone up who was feeling sad.
Once or a few times
Not at all this school year

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DIMENSIONS OF THE MDI SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT

SELF-ESTEEM. Self-esteem refers to a person’s sense of self-worth. It is one of the


Response Options most critical measures of middle childhood health and well-being. It is during the
middle childhood years that children begin to form beliefs about themselves as either
Agree a lot “competent” or “inferior” people. Children are asked to rate the following statements:

Agree a little • A lot of things about me are good.

Don’t agree or disagree • In general, I like being the way I am.
Disagree a little
• Overall, I have a lot to be proud of.
Disagree a lot

Scoring HAPPINESS. Happiness, or subjective well-being, refers to how content or satisfied


children are with their lives. Happiness serves a greater advantage than just feeling
High: Children whose average good: children with a positive, friendly attitude are more likely to attract positive
responses were ‘Agree a little’ attention from peers and adults, thus broadening and strengthening their social
or ‘Agree a lot’ resources. Experiencing happiness also strengthens children’s coping resources when
Medium: Children whose negative experiences occur. Children are asked to rate the following statements:
average responses were ‘Don’t • In most ways my life is close to the way I would want it to be.
agree or disagree’ or those
who reported a mix of positive • The things in my life are excellent.
and negative responses
• I am happy with my life.
Low: Children whose average
responses were ‘Disagree a • So far I have gotten the important things I want in life.
little’ or ‘Disagree a lot’
• If I could live my life over, I would have it the same way.
Example Result

0% 25% 50% 75% 100%


ABSENCE OF SADNESS. Depression is estimated to affect 1 in every 15 children in
%
78% Canada. It has a later onset than anxiety, usually beginning around the time of
puberty. Depression affects children’s ability to concentrate and also limits their ability
%
16%
to experience enjoyment or pleasure in things. Depressive symptoms during middle
6%
% childhood may be able to predict later onset of depression. Children are asked to rate
the following statements (because the MDI is a strengths-based tool, these questions
Average for all participating are reverse scored):
school districts.

• I feel unhappy a lot of the time.

• I feel upset about things.

• I feel that I do things wrong a lot.

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DIMENSIONS OF THE MDI SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT

ABSENCE OF WORRIES. Anxiety is the most prevalent mental health concern among
Response Options both children and adults. It is estimated that anxiety affects 1 in every 8 children, with
onset starting as early as 6 years old. Although it is one of the most prevalent mental
health issues, studies have found that up to 80% of youths with anxiety do not use
Agree a lot
health services. Children are asked to rate the following statements (because the MDI
Agree a little is a strengths-based tool, these questions are reverse scored):
Don’t agree or disagree
• I worry a lot that other people might not like me.
Disagree a little
Disagree a lot • I worry about what other kids might be saying about me.

• I worry about being teased.


Scoring

High: Children whose average


SELF-REGULATION (SHORT TERM). Self-regulation refers to a person’s ability to
responses were ‘Agree a little’
adapt their behaviour, thoughts or emotions in the context of their environment to
or ‘Agree a lot’
meet a particular goal. Short-term self-regulation specifically involves responding
Medium: Children whose to situations “in the heat of the moment,” such as controlling an impulsive reaction,
average responses were ‘Don’t trying not to fidget in class, or focusing one’s attention on an immediate project or
agree or disagree’ or those activity. Children are asked to rate the following statements:
who reported a mix of positive
and negative responses • When I am sad, I can usually start doing something that will make me
feel better.
Low: Children whose average
responses were ‘Disagree a • After I’m interrupted or distracted, I can easily continue working where
little’ or ‘Disagree a lot’ I left off.

Example Result • I can calm myself down when I’m excited or upset.

0% 25% 50% 75% 100%

%
41%
SELF-REGULATION (LONG TERM). While short term self-regulation is often reported in
%
21% younger children, long term self-regulation requires activation of the brain’s prefrontal
38%
% cortex, which is still developing throughout adolescence. This type of self-regulation
involves planning and adapting one’s behaviour in the present to achieve a goal several
Average for all participating days, weeks or even months in the future. Examples include saving one’s allowance
school districts. to buy a desired item, studying for a test, or adapting behaviour to maintain a positive
friendship. Children are asked to rate the following statements:

• If something isn’t going according to my plans, I change my actions to try


and reach my goal.

• When I have a serious disagreement with someone, I can talk calmly about
it without losing control.

• I work carefully when I know something will be tricky.

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DIMENSIONS OF THE MDI SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT

The following questions are included only in the Grade 7 questionnaire.


Response Options RESPONSIBLE DECISION-MAKING. Responsible decision-making involves the
ability to make personal choices that benefit one’s own interests while also being
Agree a lot respectful toward others. This includes being able make realistic appraisals about the
Agree a little consequences of one’s actions. Children are asked to rate the following statements:

Don’t agree or disagree • When I make a decision, I think about what might happen afterward.
Disagree a little
• I take responsibility for my mistakes.
Disagree a lot
• I say “no” when someone wants me to do things that are wrong or dangerous.
Scoring
SELF-AWARENESS. Self-awareness is the ability to accurately recognize the influence
High: Children whose average of personal emotions and thoughts on behaviour. It means being able to accurately
responses were ‘Agree a little’ assess one’s strengths and limitations, while possessing a well-grounded sense of
or ‘Agree a lot’ confidence and optimism. Children are asked to rate the following statements:

Medium: Children whose • When I’m upset, I notice how I am feeling before I take action.
average responses were ‘Don’t
agree or disagree’ or those • I am aware of how my moods affect the way I treat other people.
who reported a mix of positive
• When difficult situations happen I can pause without immediately acting.
and negative responses
Low: Children whose average
PERSEVERANCE. Perseverance refers to the persistent effort to achieve one’s goals,
responses were ‘Disagree a
even in the face of setbacks. For adolescents, it has been associated with higher
little’ or ‘Disagree a lot’
motivation, particularly in the context of school achievement. Children are asked to
rate the following statements:
Example Result
• Once I make a plan to get something done, I stick to it.
0% 25% 50% 75% 100%

%
75% • I keep at my schoolwork until I am done with it.

%
19% • I feel a sense of accomplishment from what I do.
6%
%
• I am a hard worker.
Average for all participating • I finish whatever I begin.
school districts.

ASSERTIVENESS. Assertiveness includes the ability or willingness to communicate


one’s point of view; to stand up for oneself, while at the same time respecting the
perspectives of others. During early adolescence, assertiveness has been found to
be particularly important in the context of peer influence, such as in relation to risky
behaviours or engaging in peer victimization. Children are asked to rate the following
statements:

• If I have a reason, I will change my mind.

• If I disagree with a friend, I tell them.

• If I don’t understand something, I will ask for an explanation

A GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING YOUR MDI RESULTS earlylearning.ubc.ca/mdi 12


DIMENSIONS OF THE MDI PHYSICAL HEALTH AND WELL-BEING

PHYSICAL HEALTH The MDI questionnaire asks children to evaluate their own physical well-being in
AND WELL-BEING the areas of overall health (perceptions of their own health conditions), body image,
nutrition and sleeping habits. Physical health outcomes are not uniquely controlled
by genetics. They can be affected by different factors or determinants in one’s
environment: family, relationships, lifestyle, economic and social conditions, as well as
the neighbourhoods in which we live. Studies have shown that depression and anxiety
also impact physical health and well-being. Attending to both physical and mental
health is important for maintaining healthy outcomes across the life course.

GENERAL HEALTH. General health is described by The World Health Organization


Response Options (WHO) as “not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” It involves knowing and
recognizing one’s own state of physical well-being. Children are asked the following
questions:
Excellent
• In general, how would you describe your health?
Good
Fair
BODY IMAGE. Body image refers to how people view their own bodies. This measure
Poor becomes especially important during the middle years when children become
increasingly self-aware and self-conscious, comparing themselves to their peers.
Scoring These anxieties are compounded by the onset of puberty, particularly for girls. Body
image dissatisfaction in middle childhood forecasts later depression, low self-esteem,
and eating disorders in both boys and girls. Children are asked the following questions:
High: Children who
responded ‘Excellent’ • How often do you like the way you look?
Medium: Children who
responded ‘Good’
Response Options
Low: Children who responded
Always
‘Fair’ or ‘Poor’
Often
Example Result Sometimes
Hardly ever
0% 25% 50% 75% 100%
Never
%
48%

%
46%
6%
% • How do you rate your body weight?

Average for all participating


school districts.
Response Options
Very Underweight
Slightly Underweight
About the right weight
Slightly Overweight
Very Overweight

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DIMENSIONS OF THE MDI PHYSICAL HEALTH AND WELL-BEING

BREAKFAST. Eating breakfast not only increases nutrient intake for building strong
Response Options bodies, it also immediately improves cognitive, behavioural, and emotional
functioning, including memory. Studies have found that skipping breakfast is more
common among girls, children in lower socioeconomic families, and among older
Every day
children. Children are asked the following question:
6 times a week
5 times a week • How often do you eat breakfast?

4 times a week
MEALS WITH ADULTS AT HOME. Children who frequently eat meals with family
3 times a week members are more likely to possess social resistance skills used to combat peer-
2 times a week pressure. These children are also more likely to have higher self-esteem, a sense
of purpose and a positive view of the future. Eating meals together helps to build a
Once a week
sense of family connectedness that is known to support children’s well-being during
Never transitions, for example from childhood into early adolescence. Children are asked the
following question:
Scoring • How often do your parents or adult family members eat meals with you?

High: 5 or more times per week JUNK FOOD. Children with increased intake of high fat, high sugar and processed foods
Medium: 3-4 times per week are at risk for obesity, chronic illness, low self-esteem and depression. These children
are also lacking the vitamins and nutrients their bodies need to perform in school
Low: 2 or fewer times per week
and in extracurricular activities. Major benefits of healthy eating on the other hand,
include improvements to cognitive and physical performance as well as psychological
benefits. Children are asked the following question:
Example Result
• How often do you eat food like pop, candy, potato chips or something else?
0% 25% 50% 75% 100%

%
67% FREQUENCY OF GOOD SLEEP. School-age children need approximately ten hours
%
6% of sleep a night. Proper sleep not only affects children’s cognitive capacities, but
also helps regulate mood. Children who are not getting enough sleep are at risk for
28%
% developing behavioral problems that closely mimic symptoms associated with ADHD:
hyperactivity, impulsivity and problems sitting still and/or paying attention. Short
Average for all participating
school districts. sleep duration is also associated with the development of obesity from childhood to
adulthood. Children are asked the following questions:

• How often do you get a good night’s sleep?

• What time do you usually go to bed during the weekdays?

Response Options
Before 9:00pm 12
10
9:00pm to 10:00pm
9 3
10:00pm to 11:00pm
11:00pm to 12:00pm 6

After 12:00am

A GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING YOUR MDI RESULTS earlylearning.ubc.ca/mdi 14


DIMENSIONS OF THE MDI CONNECTEDNESS

CONNECTEDNESS Belonging is a fundamental need for people of all ages. Feeling well-connected is one of
TO ADULTS the most important assets for a child’s well-being. Research shows that children who
do not feel connected are more likely to drop out of school and to suffer from mental
health problems. A single caring adult, be it a family member, a teacher in the school
or a neighbour, can make a very powerful difference in a child’s life. Children who feel
connected report greater empathy towards others, higher optimism, and higher self-
esteem than children who feel less connected.

ADULTS AT SCHOOL. School adults, including teachers, principals and school staff, are
Response Options in a unique position to form meaningful bonds with children. Research shows that the
quality of relationships children have with the adults at their school predicts their levels
of anxiety and conduct challenges. Children who perceive their teachers as caring
Very much true
report feeling more academically and prosocially motivated. Children are asked to rate
Pretty much true the following statements:
A little true At my school there is an adult who:
Not at all true
• really cares about me.

Scoring • believes I will be a success.

• listens to me when I have something to say.


High: children whose average
responses were ‘pretty much’
or ‘very much’ true ADULTS IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD/COMMUNITY. Children who have an adult in their
community to whom they look up to and spend time with report higher self-esteem
Medium: children whose
and life satisfaction, feel more competent in school and are less likely to engage in
responses were ‘a little true’
risky behaviour. Supportive community adults can include coaches, religious leaders,
or those who reported a
friends’ parents and neighbours, as well as doctors or counsellors. Children are asked
mix of positive and negative
to rate the following statements:
responses
In my neighbourhood/community (not from your school or family), there is an adult who:
Low: children whose
responses were on average • really cares about me.
‘not at all true’
• believes that I will be a success.

Example Result • listens to me when I have something to say.

0% 25% 50% 75% 100%


ADULTS AT HOME. Attachment research suggests that the relationships children have
%
80% with their primary caregiver(s) serve as a model for all future relationships. A healthy
parent-child relationship enables children to form other healthy relationships that will
%
19%
serve them throughout their lives. Children are asked to rate the following statements:
1%
%
In my home there is a parent or another adult who:
Average for all participating
school districts. • believes I will be a success.

• listens to me when I have something to say.

• I can talk to about my problems.

A GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING YOUR MDI RESULTS earlylearning.ubc.ca/mdi 15


DIMENSIONS OF THE MDI CONNECTEDNESS

NUMBER OF IMPORTANT ADULTS AT SCHOOL.


Response Options School adults, including teachers, principals and school staff, are in a unique position
to observe how children are doing day-to-day and to form meaningful bonds with
2 or More: Children who listed them. Research shows that the quality of relationships children have with the adults
the initials of two or more at their school predicts their levels of anxiety and conduct challenges. Children who
important adults at their school. perceive their teachers as caring report feeling more academically and prosocially
motivated. The MDI questionnaire asks children to list all of the adults from their
One: Children who listed one
school who are important to them. Children are asked the following question:
adult from their school who is
important to them. • Are there any adults who are IMPORTANT TO YOU at your school?
None: Children who did not list If the answer is ‘Yes’, the child is then asked to write the first or last initial of ALL of
any adults from their school who the adults who are important to them.
were important to them.

Why ask the question this way?


Past research has shown that when children are asked to identify the number of
important adults in their lives, they tend to overestimate. Alternatively, when children
% % % are asked to identify each important individual by writing down their initials, they are
2 or more One None
more thoughtful and accurate in identifying the number of adults who are truly making
an impact on their well-being.

The following questions are included only in the Grade 7 questionnaire.

What makes an adult important to you? (Children can select all of the options that apply)

• This person teaches me how to do things that I don’t know.

• I can share personal things and private feelings with this person.

• This person likes me the way I am.

• This person encourages me to pursue my goals and future plans.

• I get to do a lot of fun things with this person or because of this person.

• This person is like who I want to be when I am an adult.

• This person is always fair to me and others.

• This person stands up for me and others when we need it.

• This person lets me make decisions for myself.

A GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING YOUR MDI RESULTS earlylearning.ubc.ca/mdi 16


DIMENSIONS OF THE MDI CONNECTEDNESS

CONNECTEDNESS Beginning in middle childhood, friendships and peer support begin to have a stronger
TO PEERS influence on children’s school motivation, academic achievement and success.
Children begin to place more importance on peer groups than on relationships to
adults. During this phase of human development children need to feel they have
friends they can count on.

PEER BELONGING. During the middle childhood years children begin to associate more
with their peers. Children absorb information from peers about how to behave, who
they are and where they fit. Feeling part of a group can boost self-esteem, confidence
and personal well-being. Peer relationships provide opportunities for learning
cooperation, gaining support, acquiring interpersonal skills and persisting through
Response Options
difficulties. Children are asked the following questions:

Agree a lot • When I am with other kids my age, I feel I belong.


Agree a little
• l feel part of a group of friends that do things together.
Don’t agree or disagree
• I feel that I usually fit in with other kids around me.
Disagree a little
Disagree a lot FRIENDSHIP INTIMACY. During the middle years peer relationships grow in complexity.
Children begin to seek friendships based on quality (having a friend who cares, talks to
Scoring them and helps them with problems) rather than quantity. Close, mutual friendships
provide validation for children’s developing sense of self and self-esteem. Same-age
High: Children whose average friends are also often in a better position than adults to empathize or provide comfort
responses were ‘Agree a little’ during stressful life events such as a transition to a new school, parent separation or
or ‘Agree a lot’ difficulties with other peers. Children are asked the following questions:

Medium: Children whose • I have a friend I can tell everything to.
average responses were ‘Don’t
agree or disagree’ or those • There is somebody my age who really understands me.
who reported a mix of positive
• I have a least one really good friend I can talk to when something is
and negative responses
bothering me.
Low: Children whose average
responses were ‘Disagree a
little’ or ‘Disagree a lot’

Example Result

0% 25% 50% 75% 100%

%
75%

%
18%
7%
%

Average for all participating


school districts.

A GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING YOUR MDI RESULTS earlylearning.ubc.ca/mdi 17


DIMENSIONS OF THE MDI USE OF AFTER-SCHOOL TIME

USE OF AFTER- We know that the environments in which children live and play are important, yet
SCHOOL TIME we know very little about how school-aged children actually spend their after-school
hours. The data provided by the MDI attempts to fill gaps in the existing research on
children’s participation in activities during after-school hours (from 3pm to 6pm).
These are known as the “critical hours” because they are the hours in which children
are most often left unsupervised.
Children’s involvement in activities outside of school hours exposes them to important
social environments. After-school activities such as art and music classes, sports
leagues, and community groups provide distinct and important experiences that help
children to build relationship skills and gain competencies. Children who are more
involved in extracurricular activities tend to experience better school success and are
less likely to drop out.

PARTICIPATION IN ORGANIZED AFTER-SCHOOL ACTIVITIES


Response Options Participation in after-school activities has been shown to boost children’s
competence, self-esteem, school engagement, personal satisfaction and academic
5 times a week achievement. After-school activities allow children to meet new friends, to strengthen
existing friendships, and to feel like they belong to a group of peers with shared
4 times a week
interests. For some children, after-school programs can serve as an opportunity to
3 times a week bridge the gap between family and peers. The MDI questionnaire asks children how
Twice a week often they participate in organized activities (ones that are structured and supervised
by a teacher, coach, instructor, volunteer or other adult). Children are asked the
Once a week
following questions:
Never
During the last week from after school to dinner time (about 3pm to 6pm) how
many days did you participate in:

• Educational lessons or activities (e.g. tutoring, math, language school).


Example Result
• Music or art lessons (e.g. drawing, painting, playing a musical instrument).

0% 25% 50% 75% 100% • Youth organizations (e.g. Scouts, Girl Guides, Boys and Girls Clubs).
%
70%
• Individual sports with a coach or instructor (e.g. swimming, dance,
%
10% gymnastics, ice skating, tennis).
21%
%
• Team sports with a coach or instructor (e.g. basketball, hockey, soccer,
football).
Average for all participating
school districts.

A GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING YOUR MDI RESULTS earlylearning.ubc.ca/mdi 18


DIMENSIONS OF THE MDI USE OF AFTER-SCHOOL TIME

DAILY TIME SPENT DOING UNSTRUCTURED ACTIVITIES


Response Options The MDI also explores children’s experiences in unstructured activities. Children
are asked about the type of unstructured activities they are involved in and how
2+ hours per day often they are involved in these activities during after-school hours (3pm to 6pm).
1-2 hours Completing homework assignments, watching television or videos (including Netflix
and YouTube), and computer use are three unstructured activities that children report
30 min to 1 hour spending most of their time on during the after-school period. A balance of several
Less than 30 min activities both structured and unstructured, rather than spending a lot of time on any
Not at all one particular interest or activity, is the most optimal for supporting children’s holistic
(I did not do this activity) development. Children are asked the following question:
During the last week from after school to dinner time (about 3pm to 6pm), how
much time did you spend doing the following activities on a normal day?

• Video/Computer games (Play Station, XBox, Wii, On-line games).


Example Result
• TV, Netflix, YouTube, streaming videos.
0% 25% 50% 75% 100%
• Hang out with friends in person.
%
13%
%
14% • Hang out with friends on the phone, tablet or computer.
%
12%
% • Homework.
28%
%
33% • Read for fun.

Average for all participating • Do arts & crafts.


school districts.
• Practice a musical instrument.

• Play sports and/or exercise for fun.

• Volunteer.
Options are included only in the Grade 7 questionnaire
• Work at a job.

A GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING YOUR MDI RESULTS earlylearning.ubc.ca/mdi 19


DIMENSIONS OF THE MDI USE OF AFTER-SCHOOL TIME

WHAT CHILDREN WISH TO BE DOING AFTER SCHOOL. The MDI is the only population-
level survey that asks children what they wish they could be doing. Children are given
two choices to select from:
Think about what you want to do on school days from after school to dinner time
(about 3pm to 6pm).

• I am already doing the activities I want to be doing.

• I wish I could do additional activities.

When a child selects both answers above a third answer is recorded: I am doing some
of the activities I want, but I wish I could do more.

Those children who express that they wish they could be doing additional activities
are asked to list one activity they wish they could do. Because of the open-ended
(qualitative) style of this question, the responses are extremely varied and cannot
be provided in detail within the MDI reports. Instead, responses are coded into the
following categories:

• Physical and/or Outdoor Activities: Team sports, individual sports, being


outside at a park or playground.

• Music and Fine Arts: Music and art lessons/practice, crafts, cooking,
building, writing.
I am already doing the
activities I want to be doing • Friends and Playing: Hanging out with friends, going to a friend’s house,
having friends over, any activity specified with friends, games, talking with
% friends.

• Computer/Video Games: video games, Internet, social media, movies, TV,


YouTube, coding, texting, tablets, cell phones.
I wish I could do
additional activities • Time with Family/at Home: Being at home, spending time with parents,
siblings, grandparents, activities with family members.
% • Work Related Activities: Babysitting, working, paper route.

• Free Time/Relaxing: Time to myself, walk home alone, free time, sleeping,
I am doing some of the activities I
relaxing, reading.
want, but I wish I could do more

% • Other: Shopping, chores, travel, clubs. The “Other” category is also used for
responses that are undecipherable, appear infrequently, or do not fit into a
clear category.

A GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING YOUR MDI RESULTS earlylearning.ubc.ca/mdi 20


DIMENSIONS OF THE MDI USE OF AFTER-SCHOOL TIME

PERCEIVED BARRIERS TO PARTICIPATING IN DESIRED ACTIVITIES. The MDI


questionnaire asks children about the barriers that stop them from participating in
after-school activities. Since the MDI measures children’s perceived barriers, the data
from this question should not be considered a direct measure of the availability of, or
access to, after-school programs or opportunities. Instead, the barriers that children
are reporting should act as a starting point for discussions with parents, schools and
community service providers.
Children are asked to select from the following list of barriers (Children can select all of
the options that apply):

• I have no barriers.

• I have to go straight home after school.

• I am too busy.

• It costs too much.

• The schedule does not fit the times I can attend.

• My parents do not approve.

• I don’t know what’s available.

• I need to take care of siblings or do things at home.

• It is too difficult to get there.

• None of my friends are interested or want to go.

• The activity that I want is not offered.

• I have too much homework to do.

• I am afraid I will not be good enough in that activity.

• It is not safe for me to go.

• Other.

A GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING YOUR MDI RESULTS earlylearning.ubc.ca/mdi 21


DIMENSIONS OF THE MDI SCHOOL EXPERIENCES

SCHOOL Children’s sense of safety and belonging at school has been shown to foster school
success in many ways. When children’s needs in the school environment are met,
they are more likely to feel attached to their school. In turn, children who feel more
EXPERIENCES attached to their school have better attendance and higher academic performance.
These children are also less likely to engage in high-risk behaviours.
The MDI questionnaire asks children about the following school experiences:
academic self-concept, school climate, school belonging, and experiences with peer
victimization. School success is optimized when children perceive that they are
learning within a safe, caring and supportive environment:

Response Options ACADEMIC SELF-CONCEPT. Academic self-concept refers to a child’s beliefs about
their own academic ability, including their perceptions of themselves as students
and how interested and confident they feel at school. Experiencing success and
Agree a lot
receiving consistent positive feedback from parents and teachers greatly influences
Agree a little how children view themselves as learners. Children are asked to rate the following
Don’t agree or disagree statements:
Disagree a little • I am certain I can learn the skills taught in school this year.
Disagree a lot
• If I have enough time, I can do a good job on all my school work.

Scoring • Even if the work in school is hard, I can learn it.

High: Children whose average SCHOOL CLIMATE. School climate is the overall tone of the school environment,
responses were ‘agree a little’ including the way teachers and students interact and how students treat each other.
or ‘agree a lot’ Children’s comfort in their learning environment affects their motivation, enjoyment of
Medium: Children whose school, ability to pay attention in class and academic achievement. An optimal school
average responses were ‘don’t environment is one that values student participation, provides time for self-reflection,
agree or disagree’ or those encourages peer collaboration, and enables students to make decisions about
who reported a mix of positive classroom rules and activities. Children are asked to rate the following statements:
and negative responses
• Teachers and students treat each other with respect in this school.
Low: Children whose average
responses were ‘disagree a • People care about each other in this school.
little’ or ‘disagree a lot’
• Students in this school help each other, even if they are not friends.

Example Result SCHOOL BELONGING. School belonging is the degree to which children feel connected
and valued at their school. Children who feel a sense of belonging at school also report
0% 25% 50% 75% 100% greater happiness and decreased anxiety. Children who experience belonging at
%
85% school have been found to perceive others more favourably and consider the thoughts
and feelings of others more often. Children are asked to rate the following statements:
%
13%
3%
% • I feel like I belong in this school.

Average for all participating


• I feel like I am important to this school.
school districts.

A GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING YOUR MDI RESULTS earlylearning.ubc.ca/mdi 22


DIMENSIONS OF THE MDI SCHOOL EXPERIENCES

VICTIMIZATION AND BULLYING AT SCHOOL. Bullying is a distinct form of aggressive


Response Options behaviour in which one child or a group of children act intentionally and repeatedly
to cause harm or embarrassment to another child or group of children who have less
power. Being bullied has an enduring effect on a child’s self-esteem. Negative thoughts
Not at all this school year
continue long after the bullying stops.
Once or a few times
Despite recent media attention to the problem of cyber-bullying, it is particularly
About every month social bullying (manipulation, gossip and exclusion) that increases dramatically during
About every week the middle years. The MDI questionnaire asks children about four different types of
bullying. Children are provided with definitions of each type. Children are asked the
Many times a week
following question:
This school year, how often have you been bullied by other students in the following
Example Result ways?

0% 25% 50% 75% 100%


Cyber: For example, someone used the computer or text messages to exclude,
%
52% threaten, embarrass you, or to hurt your feelings.
%
31% Physical: For example, someone hit, shoved, or kicked you, spat at you, beat you up, or
%
7% damaged or took your things without permission.
6%
% Social: For example, someone left you out, excluded you, gossiped and spread
5%
% rumours about you, or made you look foolish.
Verbal: For example, someone called you names, teased, embarrassed, threatened
Average for all participating you, or made you do things you didn’t want to do.
school districts.

A GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING YOUR MDI RESULTS earlylearning.ubc.ca/mdi 23


THE WELL-BEING AND ASSETS INDICES

Combining select measures from the MDI helps us paint a fuller picture of children’s overall well-being and the assets that
contribute to their healthy development. The results for key MDI measures are summarized into two indices:
• The Well-Being Index consists of measures relating to children’s physical health and social and emotional development that are
of critical importance during the middle years: Optimism, Self-Esteem, Happiness, Absence of Sadness and General Health.
• The Assets Index consists of measures of key assets that help to promote children’s positive development and well-being. Assets
are resources and influences present in children’s lives such as supportive relationships and enriching activities. The MDI measures
four types of assets: Adult Relationships, Peer Relationships, Nutrition and Sleep, and After-School Activities.
The chart below illustrates the relationship between MDI dimensions and measures, and highlights which measures contribute to
the Well-Being and Assets Indices.

SOCIAL & EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT  WELL-BEING INDEX


Optimism Optimism
Self-Esteem Self-Esteem
Happiness Happiness
Absence of Sadness
Absence of Sadness
General Health

PHYSICAL HEALTH & WELL-BEING

General Health
Eating Breakfast
Meals with
Adults at Home
Frequency of
Good Sleep
 ASSETS INDEX
ADULT RELATIONSHIPS
Adults at School
CONNECTEDNESS Adults in the Neighbourhood
Adults at Home
Adults at School
Adults in the PEER RELATIONSHIPS
Neighbourhood Peer Belonging
Adults at Home Friendship Intimacy
Peer Belonging
Friendship NUTRITION & SLEEP
Intimacy Eating Breakfast
Meals with Adults at Home
Frequency of Good Sleep
USE OF AFTER-SCHOOL TIME
AFTER-SCHOOL ACTIVITIES
Organized Activities Organized Activities

A GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING YOUR MDI RESULTS earlylearning.ubc.ca/mdi 24


THE WELL-BEING AND ASSETS INDICES

THE WELL-BEING INDEX


The Well-Being Index combines MDI measures relating to children’s physical health and social and emotional development that
are of critical importance during the middle years. These are: Optimism, Happiness, Self-Esteem, Absence of Sadness and General
Health.
Scores from these five measures are combined and reported by three categories of well-being, providing a holistic summary of
children’s mental and physical health: ‘Thriving,’ ‘Medium to High’ well-being, or ‘Low’ well-being.

The Well-Being Index combines scores from the following 15 items:


Response Options
Agree a lot OPTIMISM

Agree a little • I have more good times than bad times.
Don’t agree or disagree
• I believe more good things than bad things will happen to me.
Disagree a little
Disagree a lot • I start most days thinking I will have a good day.

SELF-ESTEEM
Scoring
• In general, I like being the way I am.
Thriving: Children who are
reporting positive responses • Overall, I have a lot to be proud of.
on at least 4 of the 5
• A lot of things about me are good.
measures of well-being.

HAPPINESS
Medium to High Well-Being:
Children who are reporting • In most ways my life is close to the way I would want it to be.
neither positive nor negative
responses. • The things in my life are excellent.

• I am happy with my life.


Low Well-Being: Children
• So far I have gotten the important things I want in life.
who are reporting negative
responses on at least one • If I could live my life over, I would have it the same way.
measure of well-being.

ABSENCE OF SADNESS (reverse-scored)

Response Options
% • I feel unhappy a lot of the time.
for General Health
Low
• I feel upset about things. question
Number of
children %
Thriving • I feel that I do things wrong a lot. Excellent

% Good
Medium to GENERAL HEALTH
Fair
High
• In general, how would you describe your health? Poor

A GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING YOUR MDI RESULTS earlylearning.ubc.ca/mdi 25


THE WELL-BEING AND ASSETS INDICES

THE ASSETS INDEX


The Assets Index consists of measures of key developmental assets that help to promote children’s positive development and well-
being. Assets are resources and influences present in children’s lives such as supportive relationships and enriching activities. The
Assets Index combines scores from the following 23 items:

ADULT RELATIONSHIPS • At my school there is an adult who really cares about me.
(9 items) • At my school there is an adult who believes I will be a success.
Asset present = • At my school there is an adult who listens to me when I have something to say.
average response is • In my home there is a parent or another adult who believes I will be a success.
“a little true” or higher
• In my home there is a parent or another adult who listens to me when I have
something to say.
• In my home there is a parent or another adult who I can talk to about my problems.
• In my neighbourhood/community (not from your school or family), there is an adult
who really cares about me.
• In my neighbourhood/community (not from your school or family), there is an adult
who believes that I will be a success.
• In my neighbourhood/community (not from your school or family), there is an adult
who listens to me when I have something to say.

PEER RELATIONSHIPS • I feel part of a group of friends.


(6 items) • I feel I usually fit in with other kids.
Asset present = • When I am with other kids my age, I feel I belong.
average response is • I have at least one really good friend I can talk to.
“a little true” or higher • I have a friend I can tell everything to.
• There is somebody my age who really understands me.

NUTRITION AND SLEEP • How often do you eat breakfast?


(3 items) • How often do you get a good night’s sleep?
Asset present = • How often do your parents or other adult family members eat meals with you?
3 or more days per week

AFTER-SCHOOL ACTIVITIES Last week after school (3pm to 6pm), I participated in:
(5 items) • Educational lessons or activities
Asset present = • Art or music lessons
Participates in at least • Youth organizations
one activity
• Individual sports with an instructor
• Team sports with an instructor

A GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING YOUR MDI RESULTS earlylearning.ubc.ca/mdi 26


THE WELL-BEING AND ASSETS INDICES

THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN ASSETS AND WELL-BEING


One of the key findings of the MDI, consistent across all participating school districts, is that children’s self-reported well-being is
related to the number of assets they perceive as being present in their lives. As the number of assets increase, children are more
likely to report higher well-being, and each additional asset is associated with a further increase in well-being.

0-1 30%
2 46%
3 60%
Number of Assets
Number of the following
assets that children report
having in their lives:
4 75%
Adult Relationships
Peer Relationships
After-School Activites
Nutrition and Sleep
5 86%
Positive School Experiences

Percent Experiencing Well-Being


Children who have ‘Medium to High Well-Being’
or are ‘Thriving’ on the Well-Being Index

A GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING YOUR MDI RESULTS earlylearning.ubc.ca/mdi 27


MOVING TO ACTION WITH YOUR MDI RESULTS

MDI results can support planning ENGAGE IN CONVERSATIONS


and initiate action within schools, Review your MDI report with as many people as possible: children, parents, teachers,
organizations and communities. school administrators, after-school program staff, local early/middle childhood
committees, librarians, parks and recreation staff, local government and other
There are many opportunities community stakeholders. Highlight strengths and examples of success. Increasing
for working with your MDI local dialogue on the importance of child well-being in the middle years is an excellent
results and there are examples of way to start improving outcomes for children. Identify school and community
successful initiatives from across champions and create an action plan that involves participation from everyone.
the province to learn from. Consider these conversation starters and review the additional resources in the MDI
Tools for Action:
Here, we provide suggestions to
• Which data are you most proud of? Can you identify areas of strength?
help you get started. In addition,
• What beliefs have been confirmed for you through the MDI data?
HELP staff and researchers are
also available to provide support • What surprised you the most?
to MDI initiatives. • Who else should be involved in reviewing these results?

HELP is gathering information • How might the data influence your planning and practices
from schools and communities to
capture stories about using MDI INVOLVE CHILDREN
results.
The results from the MDI survey should be shared with children. Involve them as
If you would like to request much as possible in the interpretation of the data. Get their feedback on how both
support or tell us about your the school and community can better serve their needs. Ask children of all ages for
suggestions on how to improve their school climate and after-school experiences.
experiences using MDI data
Teachers may wish to incorporate the interpretation of MDI data into their classes.
please contact our MDI team: Children tend to offer surprisingly creative solutions that can often be implemented
mdi@help.ubc.ca easily and at no cost.

A GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING YOUR MDI RESULTS earlylearning.ubc.ca/mdi 28


MOVING TO ACTION WITH YOUR MDI RESULTS

THINK BIG, START SMALL


The MDI provides a lot of rich data. It is easy to feel overwhelmed by all of the
potential ways that schools, communities and governments could begin using the
data to improve child well-being. Moving to action will be more successful if you are
able to focus your efforts on 1 or 2 areas for improvement. There are different ways to
approach the data. You can focus on individual measures, such as Optimism, Bedtimes,
Peer Belonging and Empathy. Alternatively, you can focus on outcomes related to the
Well-Being Index, such as ‘Thriving,’ or Assets Index, such as the presence of positive
Adult Relationships. Questions to consider when identifying an area of focus are:
Which measures resonate the most?
Which measures do you have influence over?
Which measures align with your priorities and goals?

LEARN FROM THE SUCCESS OF OTHERS


Review the data from other neighbourhoods within your school district. Do you see
examples of success that you would like to replicate? Arrange to meet with local
champions to discuss the specific actions they have taken to improve child well-being
in their schools and neighbourhoods. Likewise, you may want to consider sharing local
initiatives with nearby schools and neighbourhoods.

EXPLORE LOCAL DATA


Neighbourhoods have unique characteristics that provide important context for
interpreting MDI results. Understanding neighbourhood-level differences within
a school district or community is important when considering actions to support
children’s well-being. Explore local data by using the Neighbourhood Profiles and
Maps. Both are useful for illustrating and understanding neighbourhood-level strengths
and challenges.

CHECK OUT THE ON-LINE TOOLKIT


The Human Early Learning Partnership has created a Tools for Action webpage. It is
an online resource that will help schools and communities interpret and act upon the
data included in the Middle Years Development Instrument (MDI) reports. You will find
videos, worksheets, print resources and examples of how other communities have used
their MDI data to move to action.
www.earlylearning.ubc.ca/mdi/tools

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RELATED RESEARCH & REFERENCES

WHY THE MIDDLE YEARS MATTER


Eccles J. (1999). The development of children ages 6 to 14. The Future of Children, 9 (2):
30-44
Eccles, J. (2004). Schools, academic motivation, and stage-environment fit. In R. M.
Lerner & L. Steinberg (Eds.), Handbook of adolescent psychology (2 ed., pp. 125-153).
New York: John Wiley and sons.
Jacobs R., Reinecke M., Gollan J., Kane P. (2008). Empirical evidence of cognitive
vulnerability for depression among children and adolescents: A cognitive science and
developmental perspective. Clinical Psychology Review, 28 (5): 759-782.
Rubin K., Wojslawowics J., Rose-Krasnor L., Booth-LaForce C., Burgess K. (2006).
The Best Friendships of Shy/Withdrawn Children: Prevalence, Stability, and Relationship
Quality. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 34 (2): 139-153.

DEVELOPMENT AND VALIDITY OF THE MDI


Schonert-Reichl, K. A. (2011). Middle childhood inside and out: The psychological and
social worlds of Canadian children ages 9-12, Full Report. Report for the United Way
of the Lower Mainland. Vancouver: University of British Columbia. Available online at
earlylearning.ubc.ca/mdi.
Schonert-Reichl, K. A., Guhn, M., Gadermann, A. M., Hymel, S., Sweiss, L., &
Hertzman, C. (2013). Development and validation of the Middle Years Development
Instrument (MDI): Assessing children’s well-being and assets across multiple contexts.
Social indicators research, 114(2), 345-369.

CHILDREN’S VOICES
UN General Assembly, Convention on the Rights of the Child, 20 November 1989,
United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 1577, p. 3, available at: http://www.refworld.org/
docid/3ae6b38f0.html [accessed May 2015]
Varni, J. W., Limbers, C. A., & Burwinkle, T. M. (2007). How young can children reliably
and validly self-report their health-related quality of life?: An analysis of 8,591 children
across age subgroups with the PedsQL™ 4.0 Generic Core Scales. Health and quality of life
outcomes, 5(1), 1-13.

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RELATED RESEARCH & REFERENCES

SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT


Diener M., Lucas R. (2004). Adults’ desires for children’s emotions across 48 countries:
Associations with Individual and National Characteristics. Journal of Cross-Cultural
Psychology, 35 (5): 525-547.
Duckworth A., Seligman M. (2005). Self-Discipline Outdoes IQ in Predicting Academic
Performance of Adolescents. Psychological Science, 16 (12): 939-944.
Layous K., Nelson S., Oberle E., Schonert-Reichl K., Lyubomirsky S. (2012). Kindness
Counts: Prompting Prosocial Behavior in Preadolescents Boosts Peer Acceptance and Well-
Being. PLoS ONE, 7 (12): e51380
Oberle E., Schonert-Reichl K., Zumbo B. (2011). Life Satisfaction in Early Adolescence:
Personal, Neighbourhood, School, Family and Peer Influences. Journal of Youth
Adolescence, 40: 889-901.
Oberle E., Schonert-Reichl K., Stwear Lawlor M., Thomson K. (2012). Mindfulness and
Inhibitory Control in Early Adolescence. Journal of Early Adolescence, 32 (4): 565-588.
Oberle E., Schonert-Reichl K., Hertzman C., Zumbo B. (2014). Social–emotional
competencies make the grade: Predicting academic success in early adolescence. Journal of
Applied Developmental Psychology, 35 (3): 138-147.
Olsson C., McGee R., Nada-Raja S., Williams S. (2013). A 32-Year Longitudinal Study of
Child and Adolescent Pathways to Well-Being in Adulthood. Journal of Happiness Studies,
14 (3) 1069-1083.
Schreier H., Schonert-Reichl K., & Chen E. (2013). Effect of volunteering on risk factors
for cardiovascular disease in adolescents: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA Pediatrics,
167 (4): 327-332.
Thomson K., Schonert-Reichl K., Oberle E. (2014). Optimism in Early Adolescence:
Relations to Individual Characteristics and Ecological Assets in Families, Schools, and
Neighborhoods. Journal of Happiness Studies.

PHYSICAL HEALTH AND WELLBEING


Nutrition and Family Meals
Fulkerson J., Story M., Mellin A., Leffert N., Neumark-Sztainer D., French S.
(2006). Family dinner meal frequency and adolescent development: relationships with
developmental assets and high-risk behaviors. Journal of Adolescent Health, 39 (3); 337-
345.
Harrison M., Norris ML., Obeid N., Fu M., Weinstangel H., Sampson M. (2015)
Systematic review of the effects of family meal frequency on psychosocial outcomes in
youth. Canadian Family Physician, 61(2):e96-106.
Larson N., Fulkerson J., Story M., Neumark-Sztainer D. (2013). Shared meals among
young adults are associated with better diet quality and predicted by family meal patterns
during adolescence. Public Health Nutrition Journal, 16 (5): 883-893.
O’Neil A., Quirk S., Housden S., Brennan S., Williams L., Pasco J., Berk M., Jacka
F. (2014). Relationship between diet and mental health in children and adolescents: a
systematic review. American Journal of Public Health, 104 (10): e31-42.

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RELATED RESEARCH & REFERENCES

Sleep
American Academy of Sleep Medicine. (2011). Sleep loss in early childhood may contribute
to the development of ADHD symptoms. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April, 2015 from www.
sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110614101122.htm
Falbe J., Davison K., Franckle R., Ganter C., Gortmaker S., Smith L., Land T., Taveras
E. (2015). Sleep Duration, Restfulness, and Screens in the Sleep Environment. Pediatrics,
135 (2).
Hildenbrand A., Daly B., Nicholls E., Brooks-Holliday S., Kloss J. (2013). Increased Risk
for School Violence-Related Behaviors Among Adolescents With Insufficient Sleep. Journal
of School Health, 83 (6): 408-414.
McMakin D, Alfano C. (2015). Sleep and anxiety in late childhood and early adolescence.
Current Opinion in Psychiatry, 28(6):483-9.
Smaldone A, Honig J., Byrne M. (2007). Sleepless in America: inadequate sleep and
relationships to health and well-being of our nation’s children. Pediatrics, 119 (suppl 1):
S29-S37.

CONNECTEDNESS
Gadermann A., Guhn M., Schonert-Reichl K., Hymel S., Thomson K., Hertzman
C. (2015). A population-based study of children’s well-being and health: the relative
importance of social relationships, health-related activities, and income. Journal of
Happiness Studies, 1-26.
Gifford-Smith, M., Brownell, C. (2003). Childhood peer relationships: Social acceptance,
friendship, and peer networks. Journal of School Psychology, 41 (4): 235-284.
Harter S. (1999). The Construction of the Self: A developmental perspective. New York,
NY, US: Guilford Press.
McNeely C., Nonnebaker J., Blum R. (2002). Promoting school connectedness: Evidence
from the National Longitudinal Study of School Health. Journal of School Health, 72, 138-
146.
Oberle E., Schonert-Reichl K., Thomson K. (2010). Understanding the link between
social and emotional well-being and peer relations in early adolescence: gender-specific
predictors of peer acceptance. Journal of Youth Adolescence, 39 (11): 1330-1342.
Oberle E., Schonert-Reichl K., Guhn M., Zumbo B., Hertzman C. (2014). The role of
supportive adults in promoting positive development in middle childhood: a population-
based study. Canadian Journal of School Psychology, 29 (4): 296-316.
Olsson, C., McGee, R., Nada-Raja, S., & Williams, S. (2013). A 32-year longitudinal
study of child and adolescent pathways to well-being in adulthood. Journal of Happiness
Studies, 14(3), 1069-1083.

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RELATED RESEARCH & REFERENCES

USE OF AFTER-SCHOOL TIME


McGee R., Williams S., Howden-Chapman P., Martin J., Kawachi I. (2006).
Participation in clubs and groups from childhood to adolescence and its effects on
attachment and self-esteem. Journal of Adolescence, 29 (1): 1-17.
Pierce K., Bolt D., Lowe-Vandell D. (2010). Specific Features of After-School Program
Quality: Associations with Children’s Functioning in Middle Childhood. American Journal
of Community Psychology, 45 (3-4): 381-393.
Wade C. (2015). The longitudinal effects of after-school program experiences, quality, and
regulatable features on children’s social-emotional development. Child and Youth Services
Review, 48, 70-79.

SCHOOL EXPERIENCES
Binfet, J., Gadermann, A., & Schonert-Reichl, K. (2016). Measuring kindness at school:
psychometric properties of a school kindness scale for children and adolescents. Psychology
in the Schools, 53(2), 111-126.
Currie C. (2012). Social Determinants of Health and Well-Being among Young People.
Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) Study. International Report from the
2009/23010 Survey, Copenhagen, WHO Regional Office for Europe.
Guhn M., Schonert-Reichl K., Gadermann A., Hymel S., Hertzman C. (2013). A
Population Study of Victimization, Relationships, and Well-Being in Middle Childhood.
Journal of Happiness Studies, 14 (5): 1529-1541.
Hymel S., Shonert-Reichl K., Bonanno R., Vaillancourt T., Henderson N. (2010).
Handbook of Bullying in Schools: An International Perspective, Chapter 8: Bullying and
Morality: Understanding How Good Kids Can Behave Badly, 2010, Routledge.
van Noorden, T. H., Haselager, G. J., Cillessen, A. H., & Bukowski, W. M. (2015).
Empathy and involvement in bullying in children and adolescents: A systematic review.
Journal of youth and adolescence, 44(3), 637-657.

BRITISH COLUMBIA

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ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Social Responsibility Standards, http://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/perf_stands/social_resp.htm


BC Mental Health Plan, http://www.health.gov.bc.ca/healthy-minds/
ERASE Strategy, http://www.erasebullying.ca/
ACE BC, http://www.acebc.org/
Safe, Caring and Orderly Schools, http://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/sco/resources.htm

CANADA
Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence Network (PREVNet),
http://www.prevnet.ca
Dalai Lama Center for Peace + Education, http://dalailamacenter.org/
Canadian Association for School Health, http://www.cash-aces.ca/

UNITED STATES
Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL),
http://www.casel.org/
Edutopia (Lessons and videos on Social and Emotional Learning),
http://www.edutopia.org/
The Search Institute, http://www.search-institute.org/
Find Youth Info, http://www.findyouthinfo.gov
Centre for Social and Emotional Education, http://www.csee.net
Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility,
http://www.morningsidecenter.org/
Education.com, http://www.education.com

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