Out-of-school time (OST) structured activity involvement

Scale: Out-of-School-Time Structured Activity Involvement

What it measures:

  • Youth’s level of participation in structured out-of-school-time (OST) activities.

Intended age range: 10- to 17-year-olds.

Brief description: This measure consists of 4 items. The items ask youth about their weekly participation or involvement in structured, adult-supervised OST activities (e.g., a club, program, sports team, lessons, or tutoring/homework help) at different places. Items ask about the youth’s involvement in OST activities at school, a center or activity area in the community, a place of worship, and any other places outside the home. Youth choose from the following options: 0 hours a week, Some time but less than 2 hours a week, 2-5 hours a week, and More than 5 hours a week.

Rationale: This measure was selected based on its relative brevity, appropriate coverage of the breadth of possible OST activities, and anticipated ease of use with youth.

Cautions: None.

Special administration information: Before having youth respond to these items, they should be provided with the designated instructions. These will ensure that youth have a clear understanding of the types of activities being asked about. It will also be necessary to specify the time frame that youth should use in responding to the questions. Differing time frames may be appropriate based on considerations such as the length of the mentoring program in which youth are participating and the time of year during which it operates (e.g., academic year vs. summer). For example, for a semester-long program during the school year, it may be useful to have youth consider their OST activity involvement over a time period of similar duration “ (e.g., “In a usual week over the past three months, how many hours did you spend…”). The selected time frame should be included as part of the written instructions.

How to score: Each item is scored on a 4-point scale from 0 (0 hours a week) to 3 (more than 5 hours a week). There are several ways to score these items. An overall involvement score can be calculated based on the average level of involvement across all items, such that higher scores indicate greater overall involvement. A breadth of involvement score can be calculated by counting the number of different types of activities (out of five) in which a youth reports at least some level of involvement. An intensity of involvement score also can be calculated as the average of the youth’s ratings across all of the activities in which he or she reports some level of involvement.

How to interpret findings: Higher scores reflect greater youth involvement in OST activities.

Access and permissions: This scale is available for non-commercial use with no charge and is provided here.

Alternatives: It also may be of interest to ask youth about their involvement in different types of OST activities (e.g., sports, academic, volunteer). The research cited below illustrates this approach.


Citation: This measure was developed specifically for the Measurement Guidance Toolkit. The development of the measure was informed by the following research: Scales, P. C., Benson, P. L., Bartig, K., Streit, K., Moore, K. A., … & Theokas, C. (2006). Keeping America’s Promises to Children and Youth: A Search Institute– Child Trends Report on the Results of the America’s Promise National Telephone Polls of Children, Teenagers, and Parents. Minneapolis, MN: Search Institute. (Available here)

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