MDI Canada


MDI Canada

Building on the success of the MDI project in British Columbia, HELP is continuing to expand the MDI survey across Canada and internationally. 

Interested? Contact Maddison Spenrath to learn more.

The Middle Years Development Instrument (MDI) is a self-report questionnaire that asks children in middle childhood about their thoughts, feelings and experiences in school and in the community. The MDI is not 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.

MDI results are summarized into reports that communities, schools, and governments can use to inform their work. Learning how children are currently faring across neighbourhoods and school systems means that supports and services can be tailored to families and children where and when they are needed. MDI data has been used to inform planning, decision-making, policy and practice and support collaboration across education, health and community sectors. Our overall goal is for the MDI to become part of a national system for monitoring children’s well-being.

Who uses the MDI?

As an interdisciplinary research initiative, HELP partners with provincial ministries, regional health authorities, school divisions/districts, and local governments to implement the MDI with children in Grades 4 through 8. To hear from some of our partners, please visit the Tools & Stories tab of Discover MDI, our online field guide to well-being in Middle Childhood. 

The MDI survey is completed by children in school during one or two class periods. Research has found that responses from children in Grades 4 and higher are as reliable and valid as responses from adults.

What kind of information does the MDI survey gather?

The MDI survey gathers valuable information about how children in their middle childhood years, particulary ages 10-13, think and feel about their lives. It includes questions related to the five areas of development that are strongly linked to well-being, health and academic achievement. 

Physical Health & Well-Being

Children evaluate their own physical well-being in the areas of overall health including emotional well-being, physical activity, nutrition, and sleeping habits.


Children are asked about their experiences of support and connection with the adults in their schools and neighbourhoods, with their parents or guardians at home, and with their peers.

Social and Emotional Development

Children respond to questions about their current social and emotional functioning in 7 areas: optimism, self-esteem, happiness, empathy, prosocial behaviour, sadness and worries.

School Experiences

Children are asked about their school experiences in 4 areas: academic self-concept, school climate, school belonging, and experiences with peer victimization (bullying).

Use of After-School Time

Children are asked about the time they spend engaged in organized activities such as sports, music and art, as well as the time they spend watching TV, doing homework and playing video games.

The MDI survey is completed by children during one or two class periods. Research has found that responses from children in Grades 4 and higher are as reliable and valid as responses from adults.

Where has the MDI Survey been used outside of British Columbia?

Alberta Calgary Catholic School Board 2017
Manitoba Manitoba First Nations School System 2017-2019
North West Territories All Education Authorities 2016-2019
Nova Scotia Annapolis Valley Regional School Board 2017-2019
Nova Scotia Chignecto-Central Regional School Board 2015-2019
Ontario Algonquin & Lakeshore Catholic District School Board 2019
Ontario Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board 2018
Ontario Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board 2015-2019
Ontario Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board 2015-2018
Ontario Waterloo Region District School Board 2018
Ontario Waterloo Catholic District School Board 2019
Yukon Commission Scolaire Francophone du Yukon 2019

Additional Information

For more information about the MDI survey and the ways children’s privacy is protected, please visit the MDI research project page. Additional information regarding dimensions of well-being, research assessing the MDI and using MDI survey data for change can be found at DiscoverMDI.

To learn how school districts or regions outside British Columbia may get involved with the MDI, please contact Maddison Spenrath, MDI Implementation Manager, at