iQuest: Frequently Asked Questions

The purpose of the iQuest, or independence Quest, is to promote a collaborative family and school process for determining meaningful goals that support student independence in a variety of areas. iQuest users consider the strengths, needs, and interests of the child and set goals related to self-advocacy and self-determination, health and sexuality, general independence, community, social, and safety skills. The iQuest is accessible and customizable and is designed to engage users on a virtual journey toward real-life independence.  

Users of the iQuest may have goals in mind or may use the School Independence Goal Ideas and Home Independence Goal Ideas to identify options in the areas of self-advocacy and self-determination, social, safety, health and sexuality, community, and general independence skills. Students should be given the opportunity to select goals that motivate them, that connect with their interests, and that will lead them on a path toward achieving their long-term hopes and dreams. See the Implementing the iQuest guidance document for more information about Identifying and Writing iQuest Goals and Strategies to Engage Children, Students, and Self-Advocates in Selecting Goals.

It is important to include the child in the identification of home and school goals. Allowing the child to participate in selecting goals for their iQuest encourages self-advocacy and promotes engagement with the tool. Encouraging child input can also further conversations about their hopes and dreams for the future and how their iQuest goals connect to those aspirations. Adults might also present ideas or options of goals and allow the child to make choices about those they would most like to address. See the Implementing the iQuest guidance document for Strategies to Engage Children, Students and Self-Advocates in Selecting Goals.

Yes, the iQuest can be used by either the family or the school. START recognizes that developing trusting and effective home-school collaboration is a process that takes time. Consider START’s compelling why for Family Engagement which states, “Students achieve the best outcomes when families and schools collaborate to set high expectations and ensure meaningful, inclusive experiences, charting the course for an independent future.”Also consider that the iQuest design and the process of reflecting on a child’s strengths, needs, and interests to set meaningful independence goals might just be the perfect way to bring families and schools together.

While we emphasize the benefits of using this tool collaboratively, it is also possible to use the iQuest on your own as a self-advocate, within your family, or as a school-based team. Be sure to share your progress, so the full team can learn about the benefits of the iQuest in supporting independence goals. Perhaps you will be able to address your next iQuest goal collaboratively!

The START iQuest can be embedded within the IEP or developed outside of the formal IEP process. If included in the IEP process, the IEP team can work together with the student to select meaningful independence goals and create a teaching plan. There are also options for engaging in the iQuest outside of the IEP process. See the Implementing the iQuest guidance document for more information about How to Implement the iQuest.

The best way to ensure that children are motivated by the iQuest is to have them actively participate in selecting or making choices about the independence goals being addressed. The more these independence goals can be connected to the individual’s interests, hopes, and dreams, the more likely the child will be engaged and invested. It can also be helpful to identify and use reinforcers when the child is practicing skills. Preferred items can help motivate the individual to complete difficult or complicated steps. For example, if you’re teaching a child to prepare a meal independently or a student to navigate lunchtime in the school cafeteria on their own, reinforcing small steps in these larger independence skills can be helpful. One simple strategy is to have visual pictures of the steps in the task and then integrate pictures of preferred items they access after completing certain steps. Reinforcers are different for everyone, so make sure you identify items or activities that are truly meaningful and motivating. If you need more information about defining the steps in an independence task, please review the answer to the FAQ question asking, “How do I break down an iQuest goal to teach the steps?”

Sometimes goals need to be broken down into smaller steps. These are smaller goals or sub-goals. When we break out the steps to reach a goal, we can do this by creating a task analysis. A task analysis explicitly identifies each of the steps to meet the goal. For more information on how to complete a task analysis, read this START Connecting article which provides a brief definition, overview, and examples.

Peers can help adults establish and maintain high expectations. Peers may offer ideas about independence skills that are age-appropriate and align with local culture. Capitalizing on peer knowledge of these opportunities allows school teams and families to identify relevant and meaningful independence goals (e.g., the specific games students play during recess, how and where youth meet up in their area, summer employment options for high-schoolers in the community, after-school activities attended by students). With adult guidance, peers may also be involved in implementing steps toward iQuest goals, either at school or during after-school activities.

The iQuest is currently available as a Google Slides presentation and a printable document. It is set up to start users with two home goals and two school goals. Users will find guidance in the Google Slides version about how to add goals or create a new iQuest as the user advances in grade level/age. 

Page last modified October 17, 2023