Measuring What Matters: The Developmental Relationships Survey Project

Explore social and emotional learning in your school or youth program


Search Institute is seeking schools and out-of-school time programs to help pilot a new survey in Fall 2019. Measuring What Matters: The Developmental Relationships (DR) Survey Project, will provide measures of SEL and the relationships in your organization that help develop those capabilities.


Are you interested in measuring young people’s social and emotional learning (SEL) in a way that provides usable and actionable data that will inform practice within your school or program?

Benefits for participants!

You will receive an organization-specific report with data on social and emotional capabilities and developmental relationships

We will provide resources and support on using your data to improve youth outcomes

A select group of schools or youth programs that engage in optional activities such as focus groups or interviews will be eligible for additional benefits, which may include:

  • Free in-person or online workshops on developmental relationships and using data to inform practice
  • Future discounts on the new survey once it has been finalized
  • Your logo featured on the Search Institute website

What will the survey measure?

The Developmental Relationships Survey will measure a number of areas such as Search Institute’s Developmental Relationships Framework and social and emotional learning (SEL) competencies. The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) defines SEL as how young people “learn to understand and manage emotions, set goals, show empathy for others, establish positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.” Search Institute views developmental relationships as the lever for how young people develop these competencies.

Sample items may include….

  • My teachers push me to be my best.
  • Staff at [program] help me achieve tasks or goals.
  • Teachers listen to my ideas and take them seriously.
  • I take responsibility for my choices and actions.
  • I tell the truth, even when it’s hard.
  • I think about what might happen before making a decision.
  • When I get upset, I am able to calm myself down.

Multiple ways to participate!

We invite all partners to:

  • Administer the survey
  • Participate in a brief feedback questionnaire

Deeper-level engagement opportunities are available for fewer partners and include:

  • Interviews to define how we design the survey items and supporting materials
  • Professional and/or youth reviews of survey items and supporting materials

  • Advisory role to the overall vision of the project

You are a good match if you…

  • Work with young people ages 10-18
  • Can administer the survey in Fall 2019 to a minimum 30 youth
  • Are willing to fully engage in the activities your organization agreed to participate in
  • Will provide feedback to help us improve the survey

Project Timeline


April 2019 – September 2019

Design phase for organizations who agreed to participate in deeper engagement activities

September 2019 – January 2020

Survey administration window



Early 2020

Survey administration window


Sign up here and someone from the Search Institute
research team will be in touch!


Send a message to [email protected]