9.6 The DAP Provides a Short, Easy-to-Use Method that can be Translated to Various Contexts in Order to Measure Certain Developmental Assets and Change in those Assets over Time

The Search Institute, an independent, non-profit, nonsectarian organization committed to helping create healthy communities for every young person, created the Development Asset Profile (DAP). Search Institute’s underlying approach focuses on identifying, measuring and strengthening core elements of child wellbeing and development (known as Developmental Assets) that contribute to positive outcomes for children and adolescents, including educational success, healthy behaviors, leadership, and civic participation. The developmental assets are grounded in extensive research and are measurable, practical and lend themselves to action on behalf of young people. The Search Institute’s Developmental Assets fit into two categories: internal and external. Box 9.6.1 includes more details.

9.6.1 New Tools: The Search Institute's Development Asset Profile

The Search Institute has found that the more developmental assets a young person has, the better off he/she is and would be. Specifically, assets led to increased thriving (good health and school success), reduced risk (as measured by violence and sexual intercourse), and resilience. This was found to be true across socioeconomic status, race and ethnicity, family composition, and gender.

Internal assets include: commitment to learning, positive values, social competencies, and positive identity.

External assets include: support, empowerment, boundaries and expectations, and constructive use of time.

The Developmental Asset Profile (DAP) is an evidencebased tool used to measure the building blocks of positive youth development. It also provides a valuable way to measure young people’s experiences of Developmental Assets. This short, easy-to-use method measures developmental assets in individuals and groups. It is a 58-item survey that is sensitive to change and can be used as a pre-and post– test. DAP scores can provide information about how young people score by category (e.g., boundaries and expectations or commitment to learning) and by context (social, family, school, peers, and personal).

The DAP has been adapted in Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Cambodia, China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Gaza, Iraq, Japan, Jordan, Lebanon, Mexico, Morocco, Nepal, Philippines, and Yemen. International partners include Aga Khan Development Network, Educational Development Center, Oasis Global, Save the Children, U.S. Peace Corps, YMCA International, World Vision International, and others. Search Institute works directly with partners to adapt and test the copyrighted instrument.

For example, World Vision International (WVI), a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice, partnered with the Search Institute to adapt the DAP tool developed in the United States for use first in Albania and Armenia,

and then in Cambodia; other countries will follow. WVI chose the DAP because it is quantitative and rigorous, user-friendly and can be hand-scored. Since the DAP relies on young people to answer a series of survey questions about abstract and subjective concepts, adaptation of the tool to a new language and context requires time and though. Based on their experience in Cambodia, the WVI team offered the following tips for others interested in replicating the tool based on the following four steps they underwent in collaboration with the Search Institute for adaptation:

  1. Face validity. Find out how young people describe the developmental assets in their culture and whether those assets are meaningful. Create openended questions about each category of assets and have young people brainstorm with pictures, mind maps and other learning tools. This process can help to validate whether young people see the assets as important and accurate.
  2. Design. After face validity, translate and backtranslate tool review and revise items in local language.
  3. Test for reliability and validity. This includes a pilot test, followed by analysis and revision and then another field test. WVI ran into a few challenges on this point. Many of their monitoring and evaluation staff were not accustomed to working with young people and needed help with the right techniques for engaging youth. They also found that while most adults suggested the school as a central point to assemble youth, when administered in a school young people tended to assume that the survey was a test. The team also found that youth tended to answer more generously to questions around school and learning when they were surveyed in a school.
  4. Utilization. While the WVI team in Cambodia only recently completed the pilot test, they hope to utilize the DAP tool to get a baseline, discuss assets and asset building with families, improve programs and conduct evaluations.

For more information about WVI, see www.wvi.org/wvi/wviweb.nsf and for more information about the Search Institute, see www.search-institute.org/.