Promoting Positive Learning Environments that Improve Academic Performance

What's New

While we have always known that the same student can get different grades in different classesan A in math versus a C in historyresearch now shows that these differences in performance across classrooms cannot simply be attributed to student aptitudes and interests.


New research shows the learning environments educators create can have a strong influence on students Academic Mindsets and Learning Strategies, and, ultimately, performance. The experiences students have in their classrooms have the power to alter how they perceive themselves as learners and the effort they put into their work, which is reflected in their grades. Data collected from thousands of students consistently show students with strong Academic Mindsets and Learning Strategies earn more As and fewer Fs than those with weaker Academic Mindsets and Learning Strategies.


Based on this research, UChicago Impact partnered with the UChicago Consortium on School Research to develop Cultivate, a survey and framework designed to support educators in creating the kind of learning environments that can change what students believe and, thus, how they perform.

Why It Matters

The Cultivate Survey illuminates how teaching practicesfrom how quickly assignments are graded and returned to how students are greetedinfluence students Academic Mindsets and Learning Strategies, and, in turn, grades. It provides educators with insight into 6th-12th grade students perceptions of their own Academic Mindsets and Learning Strategiesthe sense of belonging they feel, the way they approach their work, and how they see themselves as learners.


Cultivate also provides actionable insight into students perceptions of their learning environmentsthe Classroom Conditions that matter most for cultivating the strong academic mindsets and learning strategies that fuel strong academic performance.


Through the Cultivate survey and reporting site, educators can see how students perceptions of various Classroom Conditions, such as the learning goals teachers establish, class work they assign, and level of support they provide, affect the Academic Mindsets and Learning Strategies linked to strong academic performance. To learn more about Cultivate and UChicago Impacts offerings, visit