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Assessment: What we are Measuring and Why

A growth mindset

Our ultimate goal is to create in young people the attitudes and skills they need to effect lasting positive change, both in their own lives and in their schools and communities.

Moreover, a growth mindset can be a catalyst for greater motivation and productivity.  In fact, for a person with a growth mindset, even failure can be turned into an opportunity learn and improve. Intelligence mindset refers to one’s beliefs that you can learn and get ‘smarter’, while personality mindset deals with one’s beliefs that basic attributes of a person can change over time.

Situational awareness and social influence resiliency

A major objective of our programs is to teach students to become more aware of and resistant to negative aspects of social influence forces (e.g., bystanding, mindless conformity, etc.). To this end, we have developed a series of social influence resiliency scales that measure student’ implicit understanding of these forces, including how they tend to impact thinking, feeling and behavior.

An accurate understanding of these forces allows students to:

Why do we utilize psychometrics at all? 

Psychometric scales – employed in laboratory and field research and used to directly measure change in a person’s psychology – are at the heart of what we do for a variety of reasons.  Our intervention design, our student outcomes, the effectiveness of our programs – these all need to be quantified put in a form that we can track, whether it is an individual intervention or the performance of a program over a period of years.

Psychometrics, then, are central to our mission as a data-driven and research-oriented organization, and a core element we build into our organizational DNA. It is especially important that we get this element right from the start and that we always keep front and center these fundamental questions:  Does it work? How can we do it even better?  Do these results last?

Our direct assessment model involves employing pre- and post-tests for all our interventions, which is critical in determining the effectiveness of our programs. Testing for knowledge is not enough. Measuring only student enjoyment, entertainment, even their level of engagement is still not enough. We need to assess the effectiveness of our interventions in creating lasting change in psychological processes critical to the academic and social success of our students.

Direct assessment is also an essential foundation for our partnerships with research universities, for we need to build off of the work of other experts and science itself. The only way to get honest and critical feedback is through the transparency and critical evaluation that peer review provides. We publish and share our methods and findings, drawing on the rigor of laboratory research as we develop our content and implement and refine our materials.

Research-based psychometrics are also essential in improving the efficacy of the programs we develop in partnership with schools, youth development organizations and other educational settings. In addition, a solid research foundation is essential as we replicate and scale up our programs.