1. Participants
Number of students approached: 2202
Number of grades: 3 - Age groups: 13, 14 and 16 year olds
Schools: 3 urban schools in Malaysia
Data collection period: July - August 2003
(See below for link to sample description)

2. School Recruitment
Contact with 2 Malaysian schools began in February 2003. Contact with the 3rd school began in June 2003 in anticipation that one of the initial schools may pull out. Meetings with school principals and school counselors were conducted regularly prior and during the actual days of data collection. All school principals received the following prior to data collection:
a. The initial letter of invitation to the principal
b. The memorandum of understanding
c. A copy of the letter of permission from the Ministry of Education
d. The follow-up letter requesting logistical information for data collection
e. The parent consent forms, and subsequently the revised parent consent forms
f. The student consent form
g. The teacher information sheet
h. The class monitor information sheet (for 2 schools)
i. The Malay version of the paper & pencil survey
j. The English version of the paper & pencil survey
Schools were provided copies of Forms E, G & H for distribution.

3. Project Funds
MCAW is supported by The Bennett Prevention Fellowship and Graduate Assistantship received through the Prevention Research Center at Penn State University, The Jacobs Foundation, and The Search Institute. Much effort was spent on cost saving measures in the field in working within the grant we had.

4. Permission to conduct Research
All relevant materials were submitted for an expedited Penn State IRB review. All were approved. Parent passive consent forms & student active consent forms were modified based on feedback from IRB and school principals and re-submitted for IRB approval which was obtained.
We were successful in obtaining the relevant permissions for research in schools from both The Malaysian Ministry of Education and the Prime Minister’s Department following meetings with government officials. Both departments require a report once this study is complete.

5. Local support
A memorandum of understanding was signed with The Center for Psychology, HELP University College as the local field partner in Malaysia. This center provided us with 13 undergraduate research assistants (RAs) for data collection who had previous training on a UNICEF project and allocated one staff member who coordinated recruitment and payment. We provided training, payment & travel reimbursements to the RAs.

6. Materials
Instrument development
Development of the survey instrument began in Fall 2002 and was completed in early Spring 2003. The self-report instrument that we used was developed in reference to items in Ty Ridenour ALEXA, Battistich’s Middle School Student Questionnaire Measures, and Search Institute’s Developmental Assets Checklist (DAC) co-developed by Craig Edelbrock. The research investigators gave careful consideration to the cultural context of adolescents in Malaysia and where needed adapted items to suit the culture. Items were reviewed by members on the research team. Items were then translated into Malay and back-translated into English. Translation of items into Malay was done by the co-investigators on the project who are bi-lingual. Back-translation was done with support obtained from the Malaysian-American Center for Educational Exchange (MACEE), an arm of the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur and a Malay native speaker who currently resides in the United States. Items were then checked for their comprehensibility with the help of a Malay native speaking student at Penn State University. The consistency of items between the English and Malay version of the DAC were checked with Craig Edelbrock. For most items, a 4-scale response option was used, and response format was made simple in requiring a check for a chosen option. This allowed for simplicity, a clear and neat visual layout for participant ease that allowed for quicker and more accurate responses, as well as allowing researchers to subsequently analyze the data using standard response scales across items.

Material printing
Formatting and printing of surveys took place in July. Copies of the Malay survey were printed for all students. Copies of the English version were made available to students who wished to use it as reference. There were two sets of both the Malay and English version i.e. Set A and Set B. Both sets had identical items except that some sections were ordered differently in sequence. This was a precaution measure in the event of time constraint to ensure we had responses to all items from students of a particular class. In general, about half the students in each class were given set A and half were given set B.

Two minor corrections were identified post printing and prior to survey distribution. We decided to standardize the way this was addressed and had the RAs inform each class and place the corrections on the board. One correction involved a response option to an item, while the other was a typo in a word.

7. Training of Research Assistants
We provided the RAs with a half day training in ensuring they were familiar with the surveys, administration procedures, school culture and regulations. On-site briefings were conducted by the research investigators on data collection days to ensure RAs were clear on their assignments.
(See below for link to RA Training Manual)

8. Survey administration & procedures
The survey teams comprised of both research investigators and the research assistants. In general, each class was assigned 2 RAs, while investigators coordinated the overall administration of data collection at the school level. Each RA received a survey administration kit on the day of data collection. This comprehensive kit was prepared by the investigators beforehand. (A list of contents in the kit is available upon request). An instruction sheet on how to brief participants was prepared for the RAs. The briefing included thanking students for their willingness to participate; emphasizing on honest responses, that this is not a test, and the need to maintain a conducive atmosphere for this survey; and assurance on confidentiality. Note that no identifying information was requested from the students in the survey. Students were given time to read the consent forms. Students who did not consent or whose parents refused consent were given time to complete their own school work. Pre-written responses in clarifying certain questions were prepared for the RAs for uniformity purposes. However, investigators were available to answer further questions when RAs required assistance in attending to participant clarifications. In most classes we were successful in maintaining some distance between students. However, some classes were very large and this reduced spacing between students. Where distance was an issue, RAs were briefed to ensure that students did not interact in any way with their peers.

In more than half the classes, teachers were present. They were made aware prior to data collection (and when required on that day) that they were to play a passive role in the survey administration. Teachers were not allowed close contact with students (unless under very few situations) so as to maintain confidentiality and to ensure that students were not influenced in any way in how they responded to the survey. 

9. Parent Consent
Note the method of parent passive consent was selected as a minimal requirement for IRB. However, requiring parent consent, even at the passive level, is confusing for a number of parents as it is not the norm in Malaysia. Firstly, parent and youth exposure to research is minimal. Secondly, research in schools often require Ministry of Education and principal permission and do not require parent consent.

10. Data storage
Raw data was stored securely by the investigators in Malaysia. They were then shipped in a secured and insured box via Federal Express. Materials arrived safely and is currently stored securely at the Prevention Research Center.
MCAW Data Collection Phase Report
Click Here for sample discription
Click Here for RA Training Manual