Directions and Support Materials

Directions and Support Materials For the Possibilities for Learning Survey of Learning Preferences

Please note:  It is strongly recommended that individuals administering the Possibilities for Learning (PFL) survey complete it in its entirety before using it with students.

Forms and Support Materials

There is no minimum age for students to complete the Possibilities for Learning survey.  If students are expected to complete it independently, they must be able to read and understand the items.  Those unable to complete the form on their own may be offered any assistance they need from peers and adults to understand the items and respond to them.  Non-readers or students new to English should probably use the printed version, not the online version.  It will be easier for them to complete if they have the items read to them and/or translated into their first language.  The support materials for the survey include an alternate response form with “Smiley Faces” and procedures for non-readers.  Some teachers have students use the Smiley Face response format even if they read well.  The teacher reads the items to the students so all students respond at the same pace rather than finishing at different times.

Brief directions for students are provided on the PFL form.  Read them with students and reinforce the notion that this is not a test.  A fun and valuable way to do this is to encourage students to talk about the insights they find while they complete the form.  Allow time to extend this conversation to enhance insights into individual differences.  If completing the PFL in a group setting, students can also be encouraged to look at each others papers and discuss what they see.

Before beginning to respond to the survey items, students are to identify their favorite subject.  They are to respond to every item throughout the survey with that subject in mind.  Remind them of this frequently; it is essential to maintain that focus so the results will reflect how they want to learn in the subject they care about most.  Why?  Because the student’s favorite subject is the top priority for differentiation as their greatest need is in their greatest strength.

Some students may want or need to complete the form more than once if they have more than one favorite subject or area of strength as they might like to approach learning in each subject differently.  If so, they can respond on the same form but use different colored pencils to indicate their ratings and choices for each subject in Parts 1 to 4.  Their choices from the lists in Part 5 are unlikely to change.

Many students need an introduction to using the 5-point rating scale (or the Smiley Face format) so a practice activity is included on the printed version of the PFL survey.  An example is provided.  After a brief explanation of the meaning of the letters in the rating scale, ask students to generate a few synonyms for each of the ratings.  Record the synonyms on a blackboard or overhead projector.  They can write their favorite synonyms on the lines proved on the first page of the form as a quick reference if they need it later.

Example:

SA
Strongly agree
A
Agree
N
Neither agree
nor disagree
D
Disagree
SD
Strongly
Disagree
What are some other words that have the same meaning as these letters?
SA
______totally_____
____awesome____
A
__awesome____
_______________
N
___whatever____
_______________
D
_____sucks______
_______________
SD
_____totally_____
_____sucks_____

All of the items in the first four parts of the survey (pages 1 to10 of the print version) are formatted to be rated on the 5-point scale.  Part Five (pages 11 to 13 of the print version) is different.  In Part Five students identify their favorites and may add any additional ideas they have if they want to respond to the open-ended questions at the end of each list.

Some students may have difficulty rating some of the possibilities because they have never experienced learning in those ways.  They can either base their rating on how much they imagine they would like it, or they can give it an N to indicate they neither agree nor disagree–they just don’t know!  They can also rate an item ‘N’ if a statement doesn’t make sense for learning about her or his favorite subject.

If a student can’t decide on a rating because “It depends…”, she or he may write in the conditions that would support a rating of “strongly agree”.  This can be done by adding the word “when” at the end of the item and then writing a description of the conditions that are important to their rating.  This is most important when the conditions will result in a rating of “Strongly Agree” or “Strongly Disagree”.  It is not necessary for items that will be rated “Agree,” “Neutral,” or “Disagree.”

The PFL can be completed in one or more sessions depending on the time available.  The pace should be comfortable.  If students appear to be tiring or bored, let them quit and come back to it later.  Students can revisit the form at anytime in the school year to adjust their ratings or to get more ideas for learning.  Adjustments to ratings can be made in different colors. Record the dates and colors to track the changes.

All 13 pages of the PFL do not need to be used as they are.  A teacher may want to use a few items, one page, or one Part without using the rest. Perhaps a modified version would be best.  This decision will depend on the teachers willingness to implement the types of learning experiences described in each item, way the information will be used by the students and/or teacher, and the students’ readiness to participate in the curriculum design process.  The survey can be shortened by eliminating items that are not appropriate for a particular setting (like home schooling) or a particular student or group of students.  Because the PFL is a planning tool, not a test, it can be used flexibly, in whole or in part.  Download the .doc file from the list of forms above if a modified form of the survey is you are considering.

Support Materials

Brief descriptions of additional materials that can be used with the Possibilities for Learning Survey.  More complete descriptions and directions for their use can be found by clicking on the name.

  • Smiley Face Response Sheets are used to collect responses from non-readers or when a teacher wants to control students’ pace through the survey.
  • Possibilities for Learning Summary Sheet.  Students transfer their most and least liked items from each part of the survey onto these two pages.
  • Dream Sheet.  The most preferred item from each Part of the PFL is copied in to its respective cloud on this form.  These items become building-blocks to be creatively combined in the center of the page to generate one learning activity, an individual program of study or a unit of study.  In addition to the Dream Sheet, a fill-in-the-blanks worksheet is provided to help students develop an “Activity.”