Accessible Library How-to # 1: Know Your Students

Because choice is a major factor of reading engagement, understanding the interests, abilities, attitudes, habits, and preferences of students is key to developing the most suitable and relevant collections, and in determining the best ways to use them.

One way to collect this information is via a student reading survey.  Surveys can also be administered before offering students access to new collections (such as accessible materials), as well as after they have been adopted, in order to assess their effectiveness as tools of engagement.

Here are examples of both paper-based and digital reading surveys that we used at Perspectives II (our pilot school):

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Click to download the paper-based student-reading-survey.

As Perspectives II is using Google Classroom, we assigned a Google form for our digital survey, which allowed us to immediately display the results on the whiteboard and have a classroom discussion.screen-shot-2017-01-19-at-12-21-45-pm

Even though the students were not active readers, we examined the results in order to tease out information that made positive connections between students and reading.  We saw this as an important step in building classroom engagement.

93% of students affirmed the statement, “I think reading is important.”

70% of students reported reading either books, magazines, newspapers or articles online at least once a week, outside of school.

We posted these results on the classroom bulletin board, and also highlighted the most popular book read in school (The Outsiders), and genre (the “True Story”, e.g.,  biographies and true crime).  We used these interests, as well as knowledge of student reading levels as provided by the teachers, to help us identify the best e-books for purchase.

In Spring 2017,  we plan to re-conduct these surveys, and to interview students, to determine whether access to enhanced ebooks has influenced their reading engagement, as well as to get their general feedback and suggestions for improvement.

(For more information about our pilot project at Perspectives II in Montreal, please refer to the blog posts about our classroom experiences.)