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Research and Evaluation

Information for Program Evaluation Using the 4-H Thriving Model Instruments

The evaluation instruments in this collection were derived from the Mediating Effects of Thriving on Youth Development studies (Arnold & Gagnon, 2019). The studies piloted and confirmed the measurement and structure of the 4-H Thriving Model of youth development. The model predicts the relationship between a high quality 4-H program (developmental context) on developmental outcomes is mediated by youth thriving. Furthermore, the relationship between developmental context and youth thriving is moderated by the level of youth engagement in the program.

There are four program evaluation instruments in this collection:

  1. Developmental Context Instrument – measuring experience of youth sparks, sense of belonging in the program, and developmental relationships with adults. Additional items measure youth engagement in 4-H, age, gender, and race/ethnicity.
  2. Youth Thriving Instrument – measuring seven indicators of thriving: (1) Growth mindset; (2) openness to challenge and discovery; (3) hopeful purpose; (4) pro-social orientation; (5) transcendent awareness; (6) positive emotionality; and (7) goal management (intentional self-regulation)
  3. Developmental Outcomes Instrument – Measuring six developmental outcomes constructs: (1) Academic attitudes for success; (2) social competence; (3) personal standards; (4) connection with others; (5) personal responsibility; (6) contribution to others.
  4. The Full 4-H Thriving Model Program Instrument – a combination of the first three instruments into one for those interested in evaluating all three aspects of the 4-H Thriving Model.

Recommended Use of the Instruments

The instruments in this collection are recommended for use in program evaluation efforts with youth ages 13 and older at the end of a 4-H program. The instruments are intended to measure group trends to understand the quality and impact of the program. These instruments are not intended to be used for diagnostic purposes. Both the Youth Thriving and Developmental Outcomes instruments are presented in a retrospective pre-test format, meaning that youth answer each item based on how the felt before the program, and how they feel after the program. While there is no pre-determined program length established for the valid use of these instruments, programmers should assess the relative ability of the program length and type to impact youth thriving, and thus developmental outcomes.

  • The Developmental Context instrument is recommended for use at the end of any program where there is an interest in measuring the youth experience of a high quality developmental context, including short-term programs.
  • The Youth Thriving instrument is recommended for use in programs where an intentional effort is placed on positive youth development in the program design, and sufficient time has elapsed for the program to have an effect on youth thriving.
  • The Developmental Outcomes Instrument is recommended for use when enough time has elapsed to impact these developmental outcomes, such as in a multi-session program over several months, or a year-long 4-H program.

 The Developmental Context instrument can be used with youth age 10 and above, although assistance may be required to ensure youth are able to read and comprehend the items. Results should be interpreted with caution.

Before using the 4-H Thriving Model evaluation instruments please take a moment and download the 4-H Thriving Model Instruments User Guide. This document explains the purpose and appropriate use of the instruments for program evaluation. Complete information on scoring and psychometric properties of the instruments is included.

4-H Thriving Model Instruments

The 4-H Thriving Model instruments align with, and complement the instruments found in the 4-H Common Measures 2.0. For more information on choosing which instruments to use, please consult the following document:

4-H Common Measures 2.0 and the 4-H Thriving Model Measures