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9-Question Interest Inventory: A Great Way to Learn About Your Students
The first assignment of each school year for each student in each of my middle school math classes included a 9-question “interest inventory.” This Special Interest Inventory is a self-assessment tool that invites students to reflect on their past experiences.
My students agreed that answering the 9 interest inventory questions was a nice change from the typical “What’s your favorite this/that” survey, and I certainly enjoyed reading my students’ responses. students! From the start of the school year, it is a very good way to have an overview (even a little larger) of each student.
For teachers, the interest inventory can provide good initial information about students’ strengths and weaknesses. In fact, I think this quiz prompted some students to talk to me in person about their strengths and interests, giving me even more insight into learning styles.
Here is the inventory in 9 questions. I have always asked students to answer all parts of each question and carefully write their answers in complete sentences.
1. What is your favorite activity or subject at school? Why? What do you like least? Why?
2. What subjects are difficult for you? What makes them the most difficult?
3. If you could learn anything you wanted, what would you choose to learn? Please be specific. (For example: meteorology, science fiction writing, architecture, cooking, carpentry, filmmaking, etc.)
4. If people came to you for information about something you know well, what would the topic be?
5. If you could plan a field trip, where would you go? Why?
6. Fill in the blank and rate EACH choice 1=best, 2=ok, 3=worst
I learn ____ on my own.
I am learning ____ with another person.
I learn ____ in a small group.
I am learning ____ in a large group.
7. What helps you learn? (For example: hands-on experience, silent reading, note taking, reading aloud, etc.)
8. What projects – whether past schoolwork or outside of school – are you most proud of? Why?
9. Think of a great teacher you had. Describe what made this teacher so great.
A student knew a lot about horses, and throughout the year gave me unsolicited information (such as definitions of riding styles and saddles), and from time to time update on his training and competitions. Getting to know her a little more outside of math class helped engage her in math class.
Another student was proud to have trained her hamster, named El Noche, to win the local Petco Hamster Derby! I had to ask him because I had never heard of Petco Hamster Derbys. She happily described how she performed her workout routine in one of the hallways of her home.
The student who answered “I want to learn how to draw faces” is now a student at LaGuardia High School of Music and Art and Performing Arts. Without asking her at the start of the school year, I wonder how long it would have taken me to notice this very, very quiet student’s inclination towards art…maybe in the spring of that year when we studied geometry and she told me that she likes how I used different colors to help highlight angles, sides, etc. specific.
Questions 3, 4, 5 and 8 have always given me the most cheerful answers. I used the above 9 questions for 6th graders, but in general all the questions are great thinking questions, requiring answers with much more relevant information than colors/food/sports/etc.
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