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Tool Name
Experience Sampling Method (ESM)

Evaluation Type
Student Surveys

All Subjects

Middle Grades only
High School Grades only

Use of Evaluation
Used in Research

No URL is currently available for this instrument.

This product was developed by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Ph.D.

Product Description
ESM can be used to directly ask students about their experience, including their levels of interest, enjoyment, and concentration in the classroom. ESM is useful because it targets student experience as it occurs. This method (1) elicits students’ perspectives on their own experiences, thereby avoiding the limitations of student observation in which, in most circumstances, researchers or teachers infer student thought and feeling and (2) avoids the limitations of diary methods and surveys that rely on student memory. Over time, data can be used to examine levels of student engagement relative to instructional methods, teacher performance, and other aspects of teaching and learning.

General Target Population Information
ESM has been used in Grades 6–12 classrooms in most subject areas.

Stage of Teacher Development
All Stages

ESM has been primarily used for research in classrooms but has utility in serving as a tool for measuring student engagement and perceptions of classroom experience.

Research and Resources

For examples of ESM use in education contexts, see Chapter 12 of the following resource: 

Hektner, J. M., Schmidt, J. A., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2007). Experience sampling method: Measuring the quality of everyday life. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

For more information on the use of ESM to measure student engagement, see the following resource:

Johnson, L. (2010). A multidimensional, context specific (phenomenological) approach to measure academic engagement: The Experience Sampling Method. MidWest Educational Researcher.


ESM has not been developed for commercial use. Examples of ESM can be found in the book Experience Sampling Method (Hektner, Schmidt, & Csikszentmihalyi, 2007).

Free open-source software is available at


Contact Information
Lisa S. Johnson
Learning Point Associates
1100 17th Street NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: 202-778-4585

Support Available
To date, these instruments have generally been used for research purposes only; technical support is not generally available. Free open-source software is available at