COMPASS collects data at three levels: (1) the student level, (2) the school level, through the administrator, and (3) the built environment, through observations of the school's facilities and surrounding structures.

1) Student questionnaire

All Ontario students in grades 9-12 from participating schools and who have parental consent will be asked to complete the COMPASS questionnaire.

  • it is completed during regular class time
  • takes approximately 40 minutes to complete

Core questions allow us to properly define basic health indicators such as:

  • obesity
  • fitness levels
  • eating behaviour
  • tobacco, drugs, and alcohol use
  • mental health 

Correlate questions allow us to better understand the context of these behaviours among youth, by asking about:

  • how many of the student's friends are smokers
  • awareness of school policies about physical activity
  • academic achievement
  • school connectedness
  • other issues that may affect changes in the student's health and/or behaviours over time (e.g., bullying)

The COMPASS study will be conducted over a total of 9 years (though not all schools will participate in all years). This will enable the COMPASS team to provide feedback to the schools about their policies and programs that promote youth health, and to track changes in student health over time.

For a copy of the COMPASS student questionnaire please contact Chad Bredin, COMPASS program manager, at or at 519-888-4567, ext. 33317.

2) School policies and practices (SPP) questionnaire

The school administration completes this questionnaire, which asks questions regarding school policies, practices, and resources in the areas of physical activity, healthy eating, tobacco use, alcohol and other drug use, mental health and bullying.

The school administrator will be asked to complete the SPP in each of the four years that the student questionnaire is administered; this will allow us to see whether any changes have been made to existing policies, programs, and resources since the previous COMPASS survey administration. For the first year of data collection the SPP requires more details and will take approximately 40 minutes to complete. For all three subsequent years, however, the SPP will be substantially shorter.

3) Observations of the built environment

On the day of survey administration, COMPASS staff, with permission from the school administration, will record observations about the school’s existing indoor and outdoor facilities related to healthy eating and physical activity. This includes bicycle racks, football/soccer fields, gymnasiums, cafeterias, vending machines, etc.

During data analysis COMPASS staff will use specialized computer software to determine characteristics of the built environment that immediately surrounds the school, such as the existence of fast-food outlets, convenience stores, and public parks and sports arenas.

How results from the questionnaires will be used

Results from the student questionnaire and the SPP will be reported to the school in the form of a School Health Profile. This document will allow school administrators to see whether their school policies, practices, and resources, or any changes made to them, have resulted in improved health of the students. The School Health Profile also indicates areas of youth health that might have been overlooked during previous policy and program planning.

The School Health Profile will be the key to mobilizing positive action to make school environments even better.

The data we obtain about the built environment surrounding a school will be compared to student health data, to determine if any relationships exist. For example, is the density of convenience stores surrounding a school related to student obesity?