Teaching 4-5 Year Olds To Begin Reading Where To Start 9-Question Interest Inventory: A Great Way to Learn About Your Students

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9-Question Interest Inventory: A Great Way to Learn About Your Students

The first homework assignment of each school year for each student in each of my high school math classes included a 9-question “interest inventory”. This particular interest list is a self-assessment tool that prompts students to reflect on their past experiences.

My students agreed that answering the 9 interest questions was a nice change from the typical “What’s your favorite this/that” survey, and I definitely had fun reading my students’ responses! Right away – at the very beginning of the school year – it’s a very good way to get a bigger picture (even just a little bigger) of each student.

For teachers, an interest list can provide good initial information about students’ strengths and weaknesses. In fact, I think this questionnaire invited some students to talk to me personally about their strengths and interests, which gave me even more insight into learning styles.

Here is a list of 9 questions. I always asked students to answer all parts of each question and write their answers neatly in complete sentences.

1. What is your favorite activity or subject at school? Why? What is your least favorite? Why?

2. What subjects are difficult for you? What makes them the hardest?

3. If you could learn about anything you wanted to, what would you choose to learn about? 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 a lot about, what would it be?

5. If you could plan a trip, where would you go? Why?

6. Fill in the blank and rate EACH choice 1 = best, 2 = good, 3 = worst

I study ____ myself.

I study ____ with one other person.

I learn ____ in a small group.

I learn ____ 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 from 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 wonderful.

One student knew a lot about horses and gave me unsolicited information throughout the year (like defining riding styles and saddles) and updated me from time to time about her training and competitions. Getting to know her a little more outside of the math classroom helped to engage her in the math classroom.

Another student was proud to train her hamster named El Noche to win the local Petco Hamster Derby! I had to ask her because I had never heard of Petco Hamster Derbies. She happily described how she carried out her training regimen in one of the hallways of her home.

The student who answered “I want to learn to draw faces” is now a student at LaGuardia High School of Music and Art and Performing Arts. Without asking her at the beginning of the school year, I wonder how long it would have taken me to notice this very, very quiet student’s penchant for art…maybe in the spring of that year when we were studying geometry and she told me , that she likes how I used different colors to help highlight specific angles, sides, etc.

Questions 3, 4, 5, and 8 always gave me the most smiling answers. I used the 9 questions above for 6th graders, but in general the questions are all great thought-provoking questions that require answers with much more relevant information than favorite colors/food/sport/etc.

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