Middle Years Development Instrument
What is the Middle Years Development Instrument (MDI)?
The middle years represent children ages 6 to 12. Experiences in these years can have critical and long lasting effects and are a powerful predictor of adolescent adjustment and success.
The Middle Years Development Instrument (MDI) is a self-report questionnaire completed by children in Grade 4. The questionnaire includes 71 questions related to the five areas of development that are strongly linked to well-being, health and academic achievement. This school year (2012-13) the MDI is being piloted for Grade 7 students.
The MDI questionnaire is optional. For those children/families who wish to participate, it is completed during school hours and takes approximately two class periods to complete. All questions are read out loud by a classroom teacher so that the children all clearly understand the question.
The Middle Years Development Instrument - Our Children's Voices
What are the Benefits of the MDI?
The MDI is a unique tool for two reasons. It gathers information about the “whole child” rather than simply focusing on academic progress. As well, it allows us to hear children’s voices and so taps into areas that have great significance in children’s lives that are not typically evaluated in other assessments.
Rather than evaluating how children perform, the MDI gives children a voice, an opportunity to communicate to adults in schools and communities about what their experiences are inside and outside of school. In this regard, the MDI has great potential to provide educators, parents, researchers, and policy makers with much needed information about the psychological and social worlds of children during middle childhood. Such information can help schools, program planners, and community members find ways to create environments that help children in their community thrive.
How is MDI information used?
Every community that participates in the MDI receives a School District Report and a Community Report presenting the aggregated results for all children who participated in the survey. Individual children or subgroups of children are never singled out. Schools and neighbourhoods use the information included in MDI reports to initiate conversations about how the needs of children in their middle years can be better addressed. Researchers at HELP use the data to better understand and address important questions about the genetic, biological, and social determinants of children’s health and development to inform policy and program development. Government, policy-makers, and not-for-profit organizations use the maps and data that come from the MDI to plan investment, policy and program development.
How the MDI was Developed
The foundation for the Middle Years Development Instrument was laid in 2006 when a UBC research team led by Dr. Kim Schonert-Reichl, in collaboration with the United Way of the Lower Mainland, completed a study of over 1,400 children in 8 school districts in Metro Vancouver. This study asked children to complete a daily diary of their activities, and to answer a questionnaire about their well-being. The results of this study have been recorded in a report called Middle Childhood Inside and Out: The Psychological and Social Worlds of Canadian Children Ages 9-12. The report is available as both a Full Report and Summary.
The MDI was created, in part, from this early pilot questionnaire used in 2006. Following that study, a small Technical Committee of principal investigators from UBC, graduate students, and staff from both the Vancouver School Board and United Way set to work on a revised survey that could be used at a population level. Question items were assembled and considered and taken from surveys previously used and validated in research with children. Questions with a high degree of reliability were selected within five broad categories: Social and Emotional Development; Connectedness; School Experiences; Physical Health and Well-Being; and Constructive Use of Time. Each potential survey question was subjected to scrutiny based on factor analysis and its relevance to the major categories established by the Technical Committee. Considerable input was provided also by children, parents, teachers and community groups working with children in their middle years. Prior to district-wide implementation, the MDI underwent three pilot studies in Vancouver to test its reliability and validity. Following each pilot study, the tool was strengthened and streamlined into its current form. The tool is now being licensed.
Looking at Populations Not Individual Children
The MDI is a population-level research tool. This means it measures developmental change or trends in populations of children and is not used to understand individual children. Although individual children complete the questionnaire, the results are not used at the individual level.
Mapping Packages, Community Summaries and District Reports
Please visit our Maps and Data page and select a district to view or download all availible MDI Mapping Packages, Community Summaries and District Reports.