Evaluating Development Indicators


This page provides a concise look at the role of development indicators in the measurement of development. It begins with a student activity based on defining sustainable development, focused on the SDGs and the Brundtland definition. It uses a simple drag and drop quiz to look at indicator definitions before students develop a criteria on which to evaluate different indicators. The lesson looks at the HDI and GII indicators in more detail before evaluating the wholistic goals of indicators through a thought provoking video by Linda Vanasupa.

Enquiry Question

How is development measured and how effective are the indicators?

Lesson Time: 1 Hour

Lesson Objectives:

  • To describe the Sustainable Development Goals
  • To describe different indicators of development including the Human Development Index (HDI) and the Gender Inequality Index (GII)
  • To evaluate the effectiveness of these development indicators

Teacher Notes:

Starter - SDGs - Student should watch the short video and then write a definition of sustainable development. Using the SDGs diagram they can then write a  more detailed definition.

1. SD Development Indicators - Students can then suggest development indicators that best measure SD in terms of

  1. Biosphere
  2. Society
  3. Economy

This can be followed up with the quiz

2. HDI and GGI - Show the students the components on the indices and have the students discuss which actual development indicators would measure the components best.

This can be followed by reading the introduction text to the two indices

3. Evaluating SD Indicators - Follow this up with a discussion on what we should be looking for when evaluating SD indicators. There is a drop down box to reveal later.

4. Evaluating SD Indicators - Students can then spend time evaluating the specific indicators on the worksheet provided

This can be followed up by watching the video which suggests ways to measure sustainable development. Students can complete the questions on their worksheet

Starter Activity_Sustainable Development Goals Recap_ Processes and Power

Development Indicators Worksheet

Watch the short introduction to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and write down ideas that will help you define sustainable development.

Student Activity_ Defining Sustainable Development_ Processes

The UNDP (UN development programme) describes development as: ‘the ability to lead a long and healthy life, to acquire knowledge, and to have a decent standard of life’.

Some people also believe that the political health of a country is an important factor in its development, which includes freedom of speech and demonstration

Read the following definition of sustainable development as referred to by the UN

Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs   


Study the following diagram which shows how the SDGs can be classified

Now write your own more detailed definition of sustainable development

Source: Stockholm Resilience Center

 To access the remainder of resources and activities for this lesson click here

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