Positive Youth Development (PYD) Retrospective Scale


Bowers, E. P., Larson, L. R., & Parry, B. J. (2021). Nature as an Ecological Asset for : Empirical Evidence From Rural Communities. Frontiers in Psychology, 12, 688574. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.688574


The 7 are based on the Lerner and Lerner Five Cs model of PYD as described by Geldhof and colleagues (2015).  Each item reflects one of the five Cs of PYD and the “sixth C” of contribution. Please note that one item, “I believe I can impact the world around me” reflects the intersection of competence and confidence. Prior research has indicated that competence and confidence are strongly associated with each other.

Geldhof, G. J., Bowers, E. P., Mueller, M. K., Napolitano, C. M., Callina, K. S., Walsh, K. J., Lerner, J. V., & Lerner, R. M. (2015). The Five Cs model of . In Bowers et al. (Eds.), Promoting positive : Lessons from the 4-H Study (pp. 161-186). New York, NY: Springer.


Survey. This survey includes 7 questions utilizing a 11-point , asking respondents to rate a series of statements on a scale of 0 (Not at all) to 5 (Somewhat agreed) to 10 (Strongly agreed). Participants are asked to respond to the statements on how they felt before the experience and after the experience. 


10-18 year olds

When and how to use the tool 

This tool can be used to measure change in PYD from the start of a program to the end. Think deeply if the length of your program can change this outcome as PYD is relatively stable. This tool is a retrospective survey, which is different from many of the other found in this library. That means participants take the survey only once at the end of the program, but are asked to reflect on the questions based on how they felt BEFORE the program and AFTER. The retrospective nature of this tool allows you to survey your participants only once at the end of the program (vs. a pre-post style), which can help participants avoid survey fatigue. 

How to analyze 

If surveys were conducted on paper, we recommend entering survey responses into a spreadsheet using a program such as Microsoft Excel. If the survey was conducted online, in something like Google Forms, it will automatically generate a spreadsheet of scores. If entering by hand, create a spreadsheet with 7 columns for the 7 statements and a row for each individual. Assign each survey a , and enter each individual’s responses (ranging from 0 to 10) across the corresponding row. Enter a dot if the response was skipped.

To create an overall PYD score, calculate an average across all 7 items. First, add all of the scores from the items together (scores range from 0 to 10, highest score possible = 70) for each respondent’s Before and/or After score. Do not include skipped questions for which you entered a dot. Divide the total score by the number of questions answered (e.g., 70/7 = 10, the highest score possible for before or after). You will then have an overall PYD score for BEFORE and a score for AFTER (e.g., Before: 6; After: 9) The difference between these two is what becomes a part of your understanding.  

A change in scores from before to after suggests your program has had an impact on particticipants PYD; HOWEVER, statistical analysis needs to be run on these scores to determine whether or not that difference is statistically significant (which matters if you want a higher degree of certainty that it was actually your program and not something else that contributed to this change in score). High scores on PYD indicate that youth are, overall, thriving. Programs can also look at the individual items. National norms do not exist for these scales so programs can only use these questionnaires to make relative comparisons.

For more information on how to do data analysis for data such as this, we recommend MEERA which will discuss in more detail steps to collect data and analyze data. These instructional videos from EvalFest may also be helpful to learn more about data organization, tips for Excel, and data analysis. 

What to do next 

This tool helps your program understand if/how it’s supporting positive youth development (PYD). If this is an intended goal/desired outcome of your program, discuss with staff the findings. If you have regularly or highly engaged youth, engage THEM with the findings. If the scores are lower than you hoped, talk about why this might be and if there are things you all can do to improve (asking YOUTH this question will help you along this path). If the scores are high, you should still check-in with staff and engaged youth to discuss why this is and what elements seem to be working. This is just as useful a process because it helps you hone in on what really matters.

How to see if this tool would work with your program 

If you want to understand how your program addresses or supports PYD, this is a great tool. However, because PYD is a relatively stable in the short term, it’s unlikely that a one week program will change this (so you wouldn’t see much difference between BEFORE and AFTER).  Couple this with a nature connection tool (either or ) and you likely can speak to how experiences in nature, with peers and solid mentors, supports PYD.  A powerful story indeed.

Tool Tips 

  • Please do not modify the questions in the tool; doing so will invalidate what the questions are intended to measure.
  • You may, however, change words like “program” or “field trip” to align with your program language and what youth participants would understand.