Protective Factors for the College Years: Establishing the Appropriateness of the Developmental Assets Model for Emerging Adults

Abstract

In this article, we evaluate the appropriateness of the developmental assets model for college emerging adults and introduce the Young Adult Developmental Assets Survey (YADAS). Constructed as communication tools for adolescent resiliency, Search Institute’s developmental assets are reformulated here as 40 characteristics of university lifestyles promoting success and buffering risk for emerging adults. We investigated the YADAS’ reliability (via temporal consistency and internal consistency) and validity (via construct convergence and clinical criterions), and generally found evidence of strong psychometrics. The YADAS’ global assets score had a test-retest coefficient of r = .89 and a coefficient alpha of α = .90, and was also statistically significantly correlated to the majority of the thriving indicators (e.g., positive emotionality and spiritual wellbeing) and risk indicators (e.g., substance abuse and anti-social behavior) studied here. The global assets score also displayed meaningful links to mental health, with a coefficient of r = .50 with life satisfaction and r = −.35 with symptomatology. We conclude by discussing support for the use of the developmental assets model with this age range and life context, describing the YADAS’ strengths and limitations, and proposing strategies for utilizing the assets model in university contexts.

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Correspondence to Travis J. Pashak.

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Pashak, T.J., Handal, P.J. & Scales, P.C. Protective Factors for the College Years: Establishing the Appropriateness of the Developmental Assets Model for Emerging Adults. Curr Psychol 37, 45–57 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-016-9488-1

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Keywords

  • Young adults
  • Positive youth development
  • College students
  • Resilience
  • Mental health