About the Student Checkup

The Student Checkup


The Student Checkup is a semi-structured school-based motivational interview designed to help adolescents adopt academic enabling behaviors (e.g., participation in class). Ultimately, the Student Checkup is a tool to be used along side of skillful Motivational Interviewing (MI) practices. In 2011, Strait and Colleagues published the first randomized experimental trial on the Student Checkup, originally known as “Report Card Coaching”, which was followed by a replication and two experimental studies on a two session version of the Student Checkup (Strait et al., 2018; Strait et al., 2011; Terry, Smith et al., 2013; Terry et al., 2014; Terry et al., 2014). All four studies showed one consistent finding: Middle school students receiving one to two sessions of the Student Checkup had significantly higher post-treatment grades in comparison to control groups. These experimental trials demonstrated the promise of semi-structured student focused MI interventions for improving academic performance.  

On this website, you can download the Student Checkup Manual for free, access links to other school-based MI websites, and learn about MI training opportunities.

School-Based Motivational Interviewing


Motivational Interviewing is a brief client-centered counseling style used to motivate adolescents and adults to change risky behaviors and adopt healthy or productive behaviors (Miller & Rollnick, 2012). School-Based Motivational Interviewing (S
BMI) is specific type of MI used in the school setting to either motivate teachers or parents to adopt positive behavioral support strategies or to motivate students to adopt academic enabling behaviors (e.g., participation in class). SBMI incorporates the spirit and processes of Motivational Interviewing. The spirit of MI includes Partnership, Acceptance, Compassion, and Evocation. The four processes include Engagement, Focus, Evocation of Change Talk, and Planning for change. In order to lead students, parents, and teachers through the four processes and capture the spirit of MI, interviewers must use open-ended questions, affirmations, reflections, and summaries (OARS). 




The Student Checkup is a tool designed for practitioners with prior training and experiences using Motivational Interviewing. If you do not have prior training, you should attain training that includes opportunities to learn, practice, and receive feedback on your MI skills. Our MI resource area provides links to informative MI websites. In addition, Dr. Gerald Strait offers group, workshop-based, and individual training in MI. To contact him, please click the link below and complete the contact form.   

The Four Phases of the Student Checkup



The Student Checkup comes from a long lineage of semi-structured MI interventions (Strait et al, 2016). In the early days of MI, researchers and developers recognized the need for semi-structured motivational interviews to improve treatment fidelity and standardize treatment procedures in control trials—prompting the development of the Drinkers Checkup, the Family Checkup, the Classroom Checkup, and eventually the Student Checkup (Reinke et al. 2008; Dishion, Nelson and Kavanagh, 2003; Hester et al 2005; Rao, 1999).  The Student Checkup has four structured phases in the single session protocol: 1) Introduction, 2) Self-Assessment and Normative Feedback, 3) Summary and Feedback, and 4) Change Plan Development and Commitment.  The manual describes each phase in detail 

You can download the Student Checkup manual and updated protocol for free, just click the download button below.  Also, checkout out other resources for training and access to other academic and MI-based interventions.  

Student Checkup Manual 2.0 Download

Click the download button

The Student Checkup (pdf)


The Booster Session (pdf)


Motivational Interviewing Training and Student Checkup News

SBMI Training Options


Don't learn how to become a motivational speaker, instead learn how to use motivational interviewing to motivate students, teachers, and parents. Here are some training options:

1 or 2 Day Workshop: Typically  school districts or professional organizations sponsor these training programs. They include an in-depth review of MI processes and skills and ample opportunities for attendees to practice MI and receive feedback from the trainer and peers. Workshops serve as an excellent introduction to MI and allow attendees to leave with new and developing client-centered skills

Small Group Training: This training is typically appropriate for small groups of professionals who have some basic training in MI but would like for more hands on live feedback about their use of MI skills.  

To discuss training options and/or pricing please complete the contact form (see link below).   

The Student Checkup News


The booster session is here! 

Also, we want to thank Dr. Julia Strait for her artwork, which is featured above. 

Motivational Interviewing Resources and More

Academic Mentoring Program for Education Development


An instrumental mentoring programs that infuses motivational interviewing with other academic enabling and evidence-based interventions.

Motivational Interviewing for the Schools


Resources for using MI in the schools!

More than Trauma


 Info and tools for educators and mental health professionals to learn more about traumatic stress: how to assess it, address it, and help young people carry it while they learn and grow.  

About the Author

Gerald G. Strait, Ph.D., LP, LSSP, NCSP



Dr. Gerald Strait is an Assistant Professor at the University of Houston-Clear Lake. He earned his Ph.D. in School Psychology from the University of South Carolina. Dr. Strait is a Licensed Psychologist (Missouri) and a Nationally Credentialed School Psychologist. Prior to becoming an assistant professor, Dr. Strait worked as a school psychologist in Texas and Missouri schools where he provided consultation, assessment, and intervention services. He has published over 10 peer-review articles on School-Based Motivational Interviewing and he has conducted a number workshops, trainings, symposiums, mini-skills, and paper presentations on the topic.  Importantly, Dr. Strait co-developed and experimentally evaluated the Student Checkup (originally know as Academic Report Card Coaching).


Bradley H. Smith, Ph.D


Captain John Terry, Ph.D.


Sam McQuillin, Ph.D.


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Dishion, T. J., Nelson, S. E., & Kavanagh, K. (2003). The family check-up with high-risk young adolescents: Preventing early-onset substance use by parent monitoring. Behavior Therapy, 34(4), 553-571.

Hester, R. K., Squires, D. D., & Delaney, H. D. (2005). The Drinker's Check-up: 12-month outcomes of a controlled clinical trial of a stand-alone software program for problem drinkers. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 28(2), 159-169.

Miller, W. R., & Rollnick, S. (2002). Motivational interviewing: Preparing people for change (2nd ed.). New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Miller, W., & Rollnick, S. (2012). Motivational interviewing: Helping people change (3rd ed.) New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Rao, S. A. (1999). The short-term impact of the family check-up: A brief motivational 

intervention for at-risk families; Doctoral dissertation, ProQuest Information &  


Reinke, W. M., Lewis-Palmer, T., & 

Merrell, K. (2008). The classroom check-up: A class wide teacher consultation model for increasing praise and decreasing  disruptive behavior. School Psychology Review, 37(3), 315-332. 

Rollnick, S., & Miller, W. R. (1995). What is motivational interviewing?. Behavioural and cognitive Psychotherapy, 23(04), 325-334.

Strait, G. G. (2011). Motivational interviewing with middle school students. University of South Carolina, ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.

Strait, G., Smith, B., McQuillin, S., Terry, J., Swan, S., & Malone, P. (2012). A randomized trial of motivational interviewing to improve middle school students’ academic performance. Journal of Community Psychology, 40 (8), 1032–1039.

Strait, G., McQuillin, Anderson, J., & Williams, C. (2018). Practical applications of student focused motivational interviewing. In McNamara, E. (eds.), Motivational Interviewing Theory Practice, and Applications with Children and Young People. McNamara, Ainsdale Merseyside

Terry, J., Smith, B., Strait, G., & McQuillin,S. (2013). Motivational Interviewing to Improve Middle School Students’ Academic Performance: A Replication Study. Journal of Community Psychology. 41(7) 902-909.

Terry, J., Strait, G., McQuillin, S., & Smith, B. (2014). Dosage effects of motivational interviewing on middle-school students’ academic performance: Randomized evaluation of one versus two sessions. Advances in School Mental Health Promotion. 7(1), 62-74. 

Terry, J.D., Miller, M., Strait, G., Smith, B., & McQuillin, S. (2014). Replication of dosage effects of motivational interviewing on middle-school students academic performance. Report on Emotional & Behavioral Disorders in Youth, 14(03), 65-70.