MDI TOOLS FOR ACTION
This page includes information and a collection of printable materials, video links, research links, community stories and other resources that will help schools and communities interpret and act upon the data included in the Middle Years Development Instrument (MDI) reports. For information on the MDI tool itself, its development and the benefits to schools and communities, please visit the Middle Years Development Instrument main page.
Understanding MDI Reports & Maps
The MDI provides a window of insight into the experiences of children. The results for your school or community may be exactly what you expected or they may surprise you. When interpreting these results, it is important to remember that the MDI reflects how children perceive their experiences with their families, schools and communities.
The MDI measures five dimensions of healthy development during the middle childhood years that are strongly linked to well-being, health and academic achievement.
Social and Emotional Development
Social and emotional competencies are critical for children’s successful development across the life span. Social and emotional well-being is associated with greater motivation and achievement in school, as well as positive outcomes later in life including post-secondary education, employment, healthy lifestyles, and physical and psychological well-being. The MDI asks children about their current social and emotional functioning in 7 areas: optimism, self-esteem, happiness, empathy, prosocial behaviour, sadness and worries. For more information download a printable reference.
Children’s connections to their parents, peers, and other important people in their lives play a central role in their development. These personal connections promote mental health and can motivate children to stay in school. Research shows that a single caring adult, be it a family member, a teacher, or a neighbour, can make a very powerful difference in a child’s life. The MDI asks children 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. For more information download a printable reference.
Children’s senses of safety and belonging at school have been shown to foster school success in many ways. When children feel their needs are being met at school they are more likely to feel attached to their school. In turn, children who feel more attached to their school have better attendance and higher academic performance. The MDI asks children about their school experiences in 4 areas: academic self-concept, school climate, school belonging, and experiences with peer victimization(bullying). For more information download a printable reference.
Physical Health and Well-being
The impact of physical health on overall well-being and quality of life in general is significant. We have long known that having a good night’s sleep and a good breakfast are important for performing well in school each day. The MDI asks children to evaluate their own physical well-being in several areas of health including: body image, nutrition and sleeping habits. For more information download a printable reference.
Participation in activities outside of school provides children with access to valuable experiences in varied socialization contexts. Involvement in these activities creates different opportunities for children to build relationship skills and gain skill-related competence. Research has consistently found that children who are engaged in after-school activities experience greater academic and social success. The MDI asks children 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. For more information download a printable reference.
The Well-Being Index combines five measures relating to children’s physical health and social and emotional development that are of critical importance during the middle years: Optimism, Happiness, Self-Esteem, Absence of Sadness and General Health. Scores from all five of these measures are combined to correspond to three categories of well-being: ‘Thriving,’ ‘Medium to High Well-Being', or ‘Low Well-Being’. Green represents the percentage of children who are “Thriving” or doing very well. Yellow represents the children who are in the "Medium to High Well-Being” category and red represents the children who report "Low Well-Being". Download a printable reference.
What are “Assets”?
The middle years are a transitional time, one of heightened risk but also of exceptional opportunity. The MDI highlights 4 positive everyday influences, that are known to protect against vulnerability and promote positive well-being. We call these influences “assets". The Assets Index measures: Adult Relationships, Peer Relationships, After-school Activities, and Nutrition and Sleep.
The asset (puzzle piece) is darkest brown (like rich soil) if a very high percentage of children report having the asset. The asset is lightest brown (like desert sand) if a lower percentage of children report having the asset. Download a printable reference.
Need more information?
We encourage you to review the Guide to Understanding Your MDI Results as you review your reports. This MDI companion resource was developed to support the interpretation and application of MDI results for schools and communities. The Guide provides an opportunity for users to explore the dimensions of the MDI – their importance in child development and how they are measured with the MDI - in an in-depth way.
In addition to data and information, MDI School District and Community Reports include a map set that illustrates the data at a neighbourhood level. Below are two examples of the maps you will find in these reports.
Percentage of Children Thriving Maps
This map illustrates the percent of children “Thriving ” on the well-being index. It shows the percentage of children who are "thriving" within a school district by neighbourhood. The darkest green areas indicate neighbourhoods where the highest percentage of children are thriving.
Percentage of Children Reporting Assets Maps
These maps illustrate the percentage of children reporting the presence of each of the four assets in their lives within a school district by neighbourhood. Darker brown indicates a higher percentage of children reporting the asset (i.e., darker brown indicates richer soil).
MDI results can support planning and initiate action within schools, organizations and communities. There are many opportunities for working with your MDI results and there are examples of successful initiatives from across the province to learn from. Here, we provide you with a selection of resources, links to videos, presentation slides, community stories and more to help you get started. In addition, HELP staff and researchers are also available to provide support to MDI initiatives.
- A Guide to Understanding Your MDI Results
- MDI Grade 4 Questionnaire
- MDI Grade 7 Questionnaire
- "Why the Middle Years Matter" Poster
- MDI Research Brief
- MDI Parent Letter
- Social and Emotional Development
- School Experiences
- Physical Health and Well-Being
- After School Time
- Well-Being Index
- Assets Index
HELP has a YouTube channel that includes a number of videos related to the MDI and Social and Emotional Learning. Some of the highlights include the following:
- The Middle Years Development Instrument: An Introduction
- Children's Well Being in their Middle Years: New Research Highlights 2016
- Introduction to Social and Emotional Learning
- Understanding Your 2015 MDI Reports
- Children's Well-being in their Middle Years: New Research Highlights 2015
- Educate the Heart
Presentation Tips and Resources
We encourage you to engage in conversations about your MDI results and share your School, School District and Community Reports with as many people as possible. Increasing local dialogue on the importance of child well-being in the middle years is an excellent way to start improving outcomes for children.
At HELP, we recognize that getting started is sometimes hard. In an effort to assist you with preparing for and presenting your school district or community results, we have created a series of PowerPoint templates designed to the development of your presentation. . In addition, please find below links to the School District and Community Reports, our MDI companion document – Guide to Understanding Your MDI Results, an MDI Presentation Tips worksheet, and an MDI Workshop Worksheet.
There are many opportunities for working with your MDI results and there are examples of successful initiatives from across the province to learn from. The videos below offer insight into how it all started for two communities - Surrey and Ridge Meadows.
Request a Presentation or Workshop
In addition to the resources provided here, the MDI is supported by in-person assistance from UBC staff and researchers who are available to make presentations, run workshops and encourage school and community efforts to move MDI research to action. Requests for support can be made by contacting HELP.
The MDI is a very recent research project. We have only just begun gathering information on how schools and communities have used MDI results to create positive change. If you would like to contribute your story please write to firstname.lastname@example.org
We appreciate your feedback as we develop and test resources for interpreting, presenting, and working with your MDI results. We also welcome any suggestions for tools or resources not already featured on this site.