About the YDI

What is the YDI?

The Youth Development Instrument (YDI) is a self-report questionnaire designed to learn about the social and emotional development, health, and well-being of young people 16-17 years of age. In doing so, the YDI will identify individual and contextual resources, opportunities, and practices that foster or hinder positive youth development.

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School districts who have participated so far

What Kinds of Questions Do We Ask?

Social & emotional development

This domain covers the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.

Social well-being

This domain includes questions on the strength and number of meaningful relationships with peers, family, community members and community belonging.

Learning environment & Engagement

This domain asks about participants’ feelings and experiences regarding their academic work and their school community.

physical and mental well-being

This domain asks participants to describe habits and exposures which affect their physical and mental health, as well their experience with accessing health services.


This domain encourages participants to discuss how they envision their future and their framework for engaging with their society and environment.


We are also  checking in with students about how they are doing during the COVID-19 pandemic by asking questions about changes in their physical, mental, and social wellbeing, along with strategies they’ve used to cope with challenges during this period.

The YDI focuses on positive aspects of youth development. These asset-based concepts of well-being and mental health are important predictors of youth development and future adult health outcomes. Youth achieve positive developmental outcomes when they learn skills to negotiate adversity, establish healthy behaviours, and are surrounded by resources and structures that support their thriving in early and later life.

Findings from the YDI will help tell the story of youth health and well-being in BC. Aggregate YDI results for school districts and communities will be summarized through reports, graphics, and a publicly-available dashboard interface. Decision-makers, researchers, and people who work with youth can then use these tools to create policies and interventions that improve youth well-being.

The YDI is strengths-based. This means the YDI questions focus on developmental assets like flourishing, social-emotional learning, and resilience which have been associated with better long-term health and well-being. YDI researchers aim to identify skills and competencies that can reduce the impact of adversity on youth and those that promote positive trajectories over the lifespan. 

The YDI is also a population-level research tool. YDI researchers will link student responses to their answers on previous developmental surveys such as the Early Development Instrument and Middle Years Development Instrument, as well as to other health, education, and demographic datasets. These linkages will illustrate how students’ answers on the YDI and other surveys change over time and which combination of assets measured on the YDI best predict positive physical and mental health outcomes into adulthood. 

Grade 11 students in participating school districts take the YDI once during the school year. One month before YDI delivery, parents and guardians of eligible students receive details about the project. Parents and guardians have the opportunity during this time to review consent materials and reach out to their school or the YDI research team with questions to decide if their child should complete the survey. Over this period,administrators and staff also have ample time to prepare to deliver the survey to their students. The YDI team works closely with participating schools to ensure that they have the resources they need to deliver the survey successfully.

On delivery day, students take approximately 45 minutes to complete the survey. While students are encouraged to participate, they are each free to opt-out without consequences at any point before, during, or after taking the survey. 

After delivery, student information and responses are stored in a secure research environment at UBC. In addition to being featured in school and community reports, results may be linked with other data to learn about the factors that influence children’s well-being, health, and school success across British Columbia.

The YDI is the product of a collaboration between the BC Centre for Disease Control, the Human Early Learning Partnership at UBC (HELP-UBC) (Co-investigators Dr. Martin Guhn and Dr. Kim Schonert-Reichl), and Simon Fraser University (SFU). In particular, the YDI builds on HELP-UBC’s ongoing work on the Early Development Instrument (EDI) and the Middle Years Development Instrument (MDI). The YDI team brings extensive expertise in youth development, population health measurement and monitoring, health promotion, interdisciplinary research collaboration, and partnership building.

In 2016, Dr. Hasina Samji, Dr. Naomi Dove (YDI Advisory), and a team of researchers led a series of focus groups with young adults which revealed that major challenges for people their age included mental illness, substance use, and worries about their future. These discussions inspired the creation of the YDI in collaboration with HELP-UBC to better understand these challenges, the assets and experiences which can help mitigate their impact, and to identify a cohort of young people who may be further followed in their transition from high school into emerging adulthood. The YDI research team works directly with a group of stakeholders who provide ongoing feedback on research objectives, survey development, survey delivery, and project expansion. Among others, these stakeholders include the YDI Youth Advisory Council, Provincial Policy & Practice Advisory Board, and research partners from across BC, Canada, and around the world. 

A Collaboration Between

And special thanks to the following: 
The Provincial Policy & Practice Advisory Board
The Youth Advisory Council
& Our Research Advisory