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Measuring Students’ Motivation to Read

Once I began to read, I began to exist. I am what I read. ~ Walter Dean Myers

Students’ interests and attitudes are interrelated with their motivation and engagement with reading. Getting a clearer picture of the types of texts and reading experiences students enjoy or dislike, along with how positively or negatively they feel about various aspects of reading, is helpful as you consider how best to engage, support, and develop life-long readers in your classes.  

To gather information, there are many informal measures you can create and use. Reading interest inventories and reading attitude surveys are two of the most widely used tools.

​Interest Inventories

Interest inventories are generally informal measures and often teacher created. You want to ask questions that offer you clues to students’ lives in and out of school in order to better understand their full range of interests. You might consider creating a digital inventory (e.g., using an easy online format like Google Forms) that students can complete and you can analyze quickly and easily.

What types of questions should you ask on your interest inventory? (adapted from Burns, Roe, & Ross, 1992, as cited by Fink, 2006).

What is the best book that was ever read to you?     

What is the best book that you ever read yourself?

What are your favorite hobbies?

What do you like to do after-school?

What are some of your favorite movies?

What television programs do you like the most?

What are your favorite computer games, websites, or podcasts?

What school subjects do you find most interesting? Least favorite?

What pets, sports, or art activities do you like best?

If you could take a trip, where would you go?

What careers interest you?

I like reading (circle those you enjoy): fiction, nonfiction, poetry, articles, speeches, song lyrics, blog posts. 

I like reading (circle those you enjoy): mysteries, historical fiction, romance, science fiction, fantasy, romance, funny stories.

If you enjoy reading non-fiction, list two topics you would like to learn about:

Attitude Surveys

Like many aspects of their lives, adolescents’ attitudes about reading are often in flux and dependent on an evolving set of criteria. The surveys below attempt to capture varying aspects of your students’ reading attitudes quickly and easily. 

Survey of Adolescent Reading Attitudes (SARA). The SARA (Conradi et al., 2013) asks students to rate their feelings about different types of text (digital and print format) and reading purposes (academic and recreational) through questions on a six-point Likert scale, ranging from very good (6 points) to very bad (1 point). A guide to interpret scores as negative, somewhat negative, indifferent, somewhat positive, and positive is provided.

Adolescent Motivation to Read Profile (MRP-A). The MRP-A (Pitcher et al., 2007) consists of a 20-item survey and a conversational interview. You read the survey items to your class and ask students to mark their responses individually.

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National Education Association (NEA)