MDI Data Collection

The first steps of the MDI Journey start with ensuring the safe and secure collection of students' information.

Each year, the Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP) partners with administrators and staff in school systems across Canada to administer the Middle Years Development Instrument (MDI) survey. The MDI is administered in partnership with school systems as part of a research program through the Human Early Learning Partnership at UBC led by Dr. Kimberly Schonert-Reichl. Our team works directly with school leaders and administrators to support the process from data collection, to accessing reports and understanding MDI results.

The 3 Main MDI Administration Steps

School systems sign up to participate in the late spring/early summer to prepare for administering the MDI in the following school year. Educators receive training, resources, and support from staff at HELP to administer the MDI to children in Grades 4 through 8 in their schools. The MDI is offered annually and administration takes place over a 4 to 6-week period in January/February.

The MDI is administered during class time by an educator, principal or other school staff member. Children complete the MDI through an online, secure website consisting of 77 questions (for Grades 4 and 5) or 101 questions (for Grades 6, 7, and 8). Questions assess various dimensions of children’s social, emotional, and physical health and well-being along with assets in their life. The administration of the MDI takes approximately 45 to 90 minutes in total, depending on the children’s grade and reading level. The MDI is completely voluntary. Parents/guardians can choose to withdraw their child. In addition, before taking the survey, children receive information on their rights as research participants—they can choose to skip questions and opt-out of the survey at any time.

To ensure personal information is secure, HELP has strong measures in place and follows all rules, agreements, practices, and legislation for safeguarding data. Children’s responses are scored and aggregated at the school and school system level to create reports for schools, school systems and communities. Researchers use MDI data to dig deeper into important questions about the genetic, biological, and social determinants of children’s health and development. Their research, in turn, helps to inform policy and program development.

We are here to support you

The MDI research project is funded through partnerships between school systems and their health, community and government partners. HELP has also received additional funding from private foundations to support the project. HELP staff provide our partners with training, resources, and ongoing support every step of the way to ensure a smooth process in the administration of the MDI and use of MDI data.


Participating school systems typically identify one or two “MDI Lead(s)” to organize and support data collection at the school system level. The MDI Lead is then the point person for ensuring high quality implementation and integrity in use of the MDI survey. To ensure the MDI project has long-term sustainability, staff at HELP act as consultants and provide guidance and resources to support the MDI Leads to develop local capacity.


Our team at HELP will answer questions you and your team may have about the MDI and guide you through the process and paperwork that is needed to sign up for the MDI in your jurisdiction.

Survey Administration Planning, Training and Support​

We provide training for MDI Leads and MDI Survey Administrators, such as teachers, principals, vice-principals or school counsellors, all of whom can administer the MDI to their students. We share the steps for MDI administration in school systems and schools through webinars, checklists, and packages for easy reference and provide all resources in an administration portal. HELP staff are available by phone and email to support in preparation and during survey administration in schools.

The MDI and Perspectives of Indigenous Children

HELP’s goal is to ensure our tools and approaches are culturally safe and appropriate, embracing the principles of OCAP® – Ownership, Control, Access and Possession and the Five Safes’ Framework that govern data collection, storing and reporting.


MDI data has been gathered in over half of BC school districts and other jurisdictions in Canada. Many Indigenous children, in Grades 4 to 8, who attend school in participating school districts will complete an MDI questionnaire and, therefore, MDI data may include children who self-identify as First Nations, Metis or Inuit, some who are connected with their cultural identity and language(s), as well as some who have not yet had this opportunity. These data include Indigenous children living in communities off reserve, in urban cities and rural regions, and a small number of participating on-reserve schools across the province.


These data are included in aggregated provincial, school district and school-level reports although no individual children or groups of Indigenous children are identifiable. To learn more please visit MDI Data and Reports.

Interested in learning more about MDI participation?

Reach out to your local school system for administration information, or