Overview: Organization and Content of CART

The Organization of CART

CART is a compendium of assessments and research tools designed to assist those who have an interest in studying the effectiveness of youth development programs and related educational activities. The compendium identifies instruments that measure variables or attributes in three domains, or broad areas of inquiry:

  1. Design and Implementation (e.g., program quality, duration and intensity of the program);

  2. Context in which a program or approach is being delivered (e.g., student, school and community-related contexts); and

  3. Outcomes (e.g., personal, social, community outcomes).
In organizing the compendium by these three general domains, CART creates a framework for understanding important variables associated with youth development programs. Under each of the three domain areas, you will find three further subcategories of variables that can be considered. Each subcategory represents a furtheir refinement or narrowing of focus for study.

The model implied by examining these three domains is not intended to be a representation of causality among variables. Instead, it is a snapshot of all the possible variables that could be considered when measuring program quality and results. In some cases, a variable can appear in more than one domain. For example, research can be conducted on community policies in the context, implementation, and outcome domains.

The Content of CART

Searching CART provides a list and description of instruments that measure attributes associated with youth development programs. From this list of instruments, CART users can find a tool that is appropriate for their interests or they can locate an existing tool to guide their development of an instrument better suited to their research questions.

The terms used in each domain area were abstracted from the research literature associated with service-learning, prevention, experiential education, safe and-drug-free schools and communities, community service and volunteerism, academic and cognitive development, child and youth development, career counseling, citizenship, and other related fields. Not all of the variables represented in CART have been studied as effects of any given youth development program or approach, though the literature in each of the supporting fields suggests that they could be associated with such activities.

CART is not intended to be an exhaustive listing of all instruments appropriate for studying youth development, nor is it intended to provide a judgment about what tool would be best for a specific study. The data provided for each instrument usually offer some sense of the original subject population, a brief description of the instrument itself, and other parameters that should guide its use.

When available, data about instrument reliability and validity is included in the database, and information about whether the instruments have been normed. For some instruments, contact information for the test author or the publisher is included, to enable the CART user to acquire further information or the instrument itself. Some instruments are available free of charge through the contact source provided, while others are copyrighted and/or are available for a fee.

In all cases researchers and practitioners should adhere to copyright laws and request permission for use from the contact person.

Related Information:

Definitions: The Structure of CART (Click here for further information about CART and definitions of terminology.) Help: Suggestions for Searching and Using CART
CART is continually being updated. If you have questions or comments about CART, please contact cart@rmcdenver.com.