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Assessing Interest, Attitude, and Motivation

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Jul 20, 2010

Assessing students’ affective reading development can be done with observations, checklists, conferences, interviews, or surveys. Observation provides details of a student’s literacy behaviors. However, interpretations and implications must be made with care. If a student cannot settle down with a book during independent reading time, you should not conclude that the student lacks motivation or interest. There may be several other reasons contributing to this behavior.

A list of recent reading choices made by students can provide valuable information about their reading interests. A brief conference with a student, with only a few questions about reading interests, will furnish important information for the teacher. You can gain insight into the reading interests of students, and appropriate reading materials can be provided.

There are numerous published interview protocols and surveys aimed at determining children’s interest, attitude, and/or motivation. Many of the surveys use Likert scale responses and ask children to respond to items such as: “I like to read at home,” and “I feel proud when I read a book.” The Elementary Reading Attitude Survey (McKenna & Kear, 1990) is a widely used instrument that features four different Garfield expressions, ranging from happiest to very upset, to assess younger children’s attitudes about reading. This survey is particularly informative because it provides two scores—an academic and a recreation reading score—which allows classroom teachers to understand a child’s perspectives and feeling about reading both in and out of school.

The MRP—Motivation to Read Profile (Gambrell, Palmer, Codling, & Mazzoni, 1996) assesses a student’s self-concept as a reader and the student’s value of reading. It may be used to determine motivation of students in grades 2–6. MRP consists of two parts: a reading survey that children complete independently; and a conversational interview which is completed one-on-one with a child. The survey consists of 20 multiple choice questions that focus on children’s self-perception as readers, the strategies they use when reading, and how students perceive others and view them as readers. In the conversational interview, you engage a student in a “natural conversation” about fiction and nonfiction books and general reading interests such as “tell me about your favorite author” and “how do you find out about books?”

Both these instruments were published in The Reading Teacher and may be copied for classroom use.

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