Measuring well-being of groups (not individuals)

A common question that we get asked about NPC’s Well-being Measure is ‘can I use it to assess the progress of individuals?’

The straightforward answer to this is ‘no’. The Well-being Measure is a tool for understanding the well-being of a group, and must be completed by ten or more young people for any analysis to be valid. It is an evaluation tool for charities, schools or other agencies working with cohorts of young people.

The reason why it is not valid for individuals  is simple. To get a reliable measure of the well-being of an individual, you need to ask lots of detailed questions (and preferably involve a professional psychologist). Asking 40 questions – which makes up the typical Well-being Measure survey – isn’t enough to be confident about describing what they think and feel about their life.

(If you want a reliable measure from a group, you can ask fewer questions. And for an entire population, you can get away with fewer still: on its new household survey, Office for National Statistics asks just 4 questions about well-being.)

This means that for most organisations, measuring individual well-being simply isn’t practical. And besides, there are other ways that you can understand young people and their problems – by working with them one-on-one and talking to them – which a survey can never replace.

NPC’s Well-being Measure is designed to be robust and practical. Our intention is to provide a tool that is easy-to-use and doesn’t demand too much of participants but that, crucially, you can be sure is reliable.

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About John Copps

John is part of NPC's research and consulting team and is the founder of NPC's Well-being Measure, a social business that provides an online tool to measure young people’s well-being. He has eight years experience of research and consulting, and is passionate about how data can be used to improve the performance of organisations. John is a regular contributor to NPC's blog and has also contributed to pieces for BBC Radio, the Guardian, and the Financial Times. John is a governor of a secondary school.
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