One way to assess motivation is by observing the student in the classroom. The longer we spend observing the student the better understanding we will have of what motivates them. We can also ask each student to write regularly in a journal. If we allow them to write about whatever subjects interest them, at least most of the time, we will probably notice a pattern. Open ended questionnaires will also produce similar results. By asking questions that have no right answer, students are able to use their own imagination and will answer with ideas that interest them. An interest inventory, such as the one found in Assessment for Reading Instruction called Tell Me What You Like! (McKenna & Stahl, 2011, pg. 214) helps to narrow down topics of interest. After the child decides that extent to which they like each category listed, they can then list categories they are interested in that were not on the list. For younger grades, I find it helpful to just ask if they are or are not interested in the subject, instead of giving a letter grade for each (i.e. A for the subjects they most enjoy and D for the ones they aren’t interested in at all. And then there are attitude assessments such as Elementary Reading Attitude Survey (McKenna & Stahl, pg. 215). In this assessment a question is asked about reading and the student circles one of four Garfield illustrations. The first illustration is of an excited Garfield, the next a somewhat pleased Garfield, then a bored Garfield and last a very unhappy Garfield. The student circles which Garfield best describes how the question makes them feel. For example, if the questions were “how do you feel about reading for fun at home?” a student could circle the very excited Garfield if reading at home makes them happy.
Tell Me What You Like! (McKenna & Stahl, 2009, p. 214)