Interest Surveys

Interest Surveys inform instructional and support choices made based on students' or teachers' individual needs and preferences
279 teachers like this strategy

About This Strategy

Interest surveys are a method for collecting feedback from students or teachers to inform instructional choices or professional support made by teachers and administrators. For teacher use, an interest survey provides students with a voice in how they learn best and what their needs, interests, and preferences are. For administrators, interest surveys provide information about teachers interests, areas they would like support with, and ways to professionally group and lead teachers. Interest surveys can also help the teacher or administrator establish and maintain positive relationships with his or her students or colleagues. Students and teachers can inform and/or make choices about content, process, and product. Interest surveys are appropriate for all grade levels and subject areas, in addition to administrators and school leaders to distribute to teachers and and support staff.

Implementation Steps

30 minutes
  1. Brainstorm what pieces of information you would like to know about your specific audience. There are several templates and sample questions available in the resources section.

  2. Create an interest survey to distribute to your audience (i.e. students, teachers, instructional coaches, support staff, etc). There are several templates/samples available in the resources section.

    • To learn more about making instructional choices based on students’ individual needs and preferences, explore the I Wish My Teacher Knew and Windows and Mirrors strategies in the BetterLesson Lab.

  3. Distribute interest survey to your specific audience.

  4. Use the information gathered from the interest survey to guide your interactions with the designated audience.

    • For administrators, interest surveys could guide PLC groups, specific support given to teachers throughout the year, and professional development options.

    • For teachers, interest surveys could guide the types of activities you create for students based on their interests, learning styles, etc. It could also inform how you meet with students and what support you give students in small group and individual conferencing.

Additional Resources:

Interest Surveys For Distance Learning

Kelly Kennefick
BetterLesson Instructional Coach

Interest surveys are a method for collecting feedback from students or teachers to inform instructional choices or professional support made by teachers and administrators. Interest surveys can be used in distance learning to collect feedback and information.

Implementation steps:

  1. Review the steps above for implementing interest surveys. 

  2. Determine the purpose of and goals for implementing interest surveys. Once you have determined the information you'd like to collect, find or create an interest survey. 

    • For distance learning, create a digital version of the interest survey. Some interest surveys may be available online. However, if not, consider using a digital tool, such as Google Forms. See the tutorial in the resource section below.

  3. Determine if teachers/students will complete the survey during a synchronous learning time or asynchronously. 

    • If you would like teachers or students to complete the survey during synchronous learning time, schedule time to do so. This could be during a class meeting or during a PD session. 

    • If you would like teachers/students to complete the survey asynchronously,  distribute the interest survey to your intended audience. 

      • For students, consider sharing the interest survey through email or your LMS. For students with limited technology, consider providing a paper version that students can text or email a completed copy to you. Consider creating a video explaining the interest survey and the purpose so students understand the task.

      • If you are using the interest survey with teachers, consider emailing teachers the survey. Provide context on the purpose and a date for the survey to be completed by.  

  4. Use the information to make informed decisions. 

    • If you have collected information from teachers, consider what supports teachers may need for distance learning, PDs, etc.

    • If you have collected information from students, consider integrating in their interests or making revisions based on their feedback. 

  5. Explicitly share the data from the survey and explain the changes that have been made as a result either during a synchronous session or through a presentation using a tool such as googleslides that you can share with your audience. Continue to use the data as you create assignments or professional development opportunities.

Special Education Modification

Nedra MassenburgDEMO
Special Education Specialist

Using interest surveys as a method for collecting feedback from students or for teachers to inform instructional choices or professional support made by them and administrators are excellent tools to support all students. In particular, interest surveys can help the teachers and/or administrator build and maintain more engagement in students with disabilities.

Use of interest surveys by students requires significant executive functioning (task initiation, prioritization, working memory, etc.), reading and written expression skills.  In order to support students with disabilities in these areas, consider the following modifications:


  1. Use structured handouts that help learners with task initiation as well as provide clear benchmarks (bolded words, bulleted lists) to assess task completion.  See the "Accommodated Student Interest Survey" in the resource section below.

  2. Use visual timers and verbal reminders to help students with task initiation and task completion as they are completing interest surveys.

  3. Consider using the “quality over quantity” approach for students with disabilities affecting writing and reading skills to complete the task.  As an example, a teacher may narrow a student's focus to only listing three areas of interest on a topic as opposed to four or five to give them more time to fully read and synthesize information.

EL Modification

Shannon Coyle
English Learner Specialist

This strategy supports teachers in designing instruction that considers learners’ needs and preferences. Learners are empowered to contribute their voice to the way they interact with academic material.

English learners need to read and write in order to engage with surveys. Learners may be required to listen and speak during activities related to interest surveys. In order to support English Learners consider the following modifications:


  1. Differentiate written activities. Consult data about learners’ language level and their language specialist to determine appropriate formats for surveys, questionnaires, etc. Create alternative questions with simplified grammatical structures. Provide sentence starters and word banks for responses. See the "WIDA Can Do Descriptors" and the "Student Interest Survey for ELLs Template" resources in the resource section below.
  2. Provide a variety of ways for learners to express themselves. Have learners who are newcomers or in a silent period use drawing, photo, slide show, etc. Consider interviewing learners 1:1 or in small groups to fill out written forms by reading questions aloud and having learners write or dictate their responses. Consider using speech to text technology such as that found in Google docs. See the "WIDA Can DO Descriptors" in the resource section below.

Questions to Consider

  • How could you modify this strategy to address the needs of your students?

  • How would you prompt students' thinking so that they make and share meaningful personal connections?

  • How would you connect student responses to your lessons?

  • How could you use the student responses to provide students with choice in how they learn and interact with activities in the classroom?

Tech Tools

Survey Monkey

  • Survey Monkey allows the user to design and distribute surveys through various avenues (e-mail, link, mobile, chat, social media, etc). It then provides the user with data and actionable insight regarding the survey responses.

Google Forms

  • Google Forms is a Google App that allows you to quickly and easily survey participants. It has numerous questioning style options including multiple choice, free response, short answer, likert scale, checkboxes, dropdown boxes, and multiple choice grid. It provides both whole group data/responses and individual data/responses and can be linked to Google Sheets for more data analysis options.

Related Lessons

Explore the "What Lights Your Fire" lesson by Erin Greenwood, a sixth-grade BetterLesson Science Master teacher, to see how she used student interest surveys to design her lessons.

Explore the "No Paper, No Problem" lesson by  Drewe Warndorff, a sixth-grade BetterLesson Special Education Science Master Teacher, to see how she used student interest surveys at the start of the year.

Explore the "Telling Lies that Sound True" lesson by Paula Stanton, a ninth-grade ELA BetterLesson Master Teacher, to see how she used student interest surveys to support students in getting to know each other at the start of the school year, and for her to learn about their learning "likes" and "dislikes".