Overview of the Norming Process for the ACA Youth Outcomes Battery
*We wish to acknowledge the contributions and leadership provided by the ACA Committee for the Advancement of Research and Evaluation, the ACA Not-for-Profit Council, and Dr. Jim Sibthorp, Dr. Laurie Browne, Dr. Cass Morgan, and Troy Bennett from the University of Utah. We also wish to thank the 54 camps involved in the pilot data collection for their cooperation. This project would not have been possible without the generous financial support of the ACA Not-for-profit Council.
Camps and other types of youth programs are usually most interested in the outcomes experienced by their youth and how this information demonstrates the impact of their camp or program to stakeholders as well as influence program improvement strategies. However, there are instances when making a comparison to an external “norm” (average) is useful.
During the summers of 2010-2011 and 2014-2015 the ACA (through the support of the Not-for-Profit Council) began the process of collecting normative data on the ACA Youth Outcomes Battery (YOB). All scales were included except the Young Camper Learning. The outcome of this project is normed tables that allow individual camps to compare their scores on the YOB outcomes to representative scores from typical ACA not-for-profit camps. Through the norming process, the data suggest that campers experience growth when attending camp, and this growth may be related to the amount of time spent at the particular camp.
Download the ACA Youth Outcomes Battery Norming Tables (PDF).
Using the Normative Data for Comparison
- Collect the desired outcome data for your camp using the Basic (increased format) or Detailed (status+change) form of the YOB scales.
- Calculate average (mean) scores for the outcomes using the YOB templates or the online YOB 2.0 that generates analysis reports. These means must be scaled to match the means (1-5 for all Basic outcomes except Camp Connectedness, which is 1-6 or 1-6 for the Detailed outcomes). This process is typically done by summing the raw item scores and then dividing by the number of items for each camper. All camper scores can then by averaged together to create a “camp” or “session” average for the YOB scale of interest.
- This average score can then be compared to the normative means and percentiles included in the ACA YOB Norming Tables.
- As an example, if the administrative staff at an ACA-accredited overnight camp was interested to see if their campers increased in Friendship Skills (FS), Problem Solving Confidence (PS), and Independence (IND), they might administer these YOB scales to their campers. They would then create means for each outcome measure. For this example, assume that the means were 2.7 for FS, 3.5 for PS, and 4.2 for Independence. Using Table 1 for FS, 2.7 falls between 2.5 and 2.97. Therefore, this camp’s campers scored about half way between the 10th and 20th percentile compared to the normative sample of ACA-accredited overnight campers. For Problem Solving Confidence and Independence, it would be correct to report that PS scores for this camp were at the 50th percentile (3.50) and that Independence (Ind) scores for this camp were just above the 70th percentile (4.125). These simple results help the camp decide if they are happy with their campers only scoring in the 10-20% range on friendship skills while they scored in the 50% on problem-solving and 70% on independence. The camp may decide to do additional staff training to help staff facilitate more camper skill development around making friends if this outcome is an important outcome to the camp program.
- If an exact percentile is necessary for reporting, linear interpolation will yield a reasonable approximation of the precise percentile.
Norms for the ACA Youth Outcomes Battery
The normed tables in the downloadable PDF provide the pertinent data needed by not-for profit camps that wish to make a comparison between their campers’ outcomes' scores and an established norm. Each scale has the mean, median, and standard deviation as well as the break downs at 10% intervals. The norms include tables for non-profit camps in general, resident camps only, and camper characteristics for age and gender.
The following outcomes are addressed in these norms:
Family Citizenship - FCB
Perceived Competence - PC
Responsibility - R
Independence - I
Teamwork - T
Problem-Solving Confidence - PSC
Interest in Exploration - IE
Camp Connectedness - CC
Friendship Skills - FS
Affinity for Nature - AN