Want to help students improve their academic outcomes?
Improving how students experience their classrooms is a key step.
Cultivate supports educators in creating learning environments that can change what students believe and, thus, how they perform.
WHY use the Cultivate Survey?
- Research shows that students’ daily experience of their classroom learning conditions shapes their beliefs about themselves and school (“learning mindsets”), which in turn drives their engagement, perseverance, and learning—all contributing to students’ longer term academic outcomes, identity development, and well-being.
- The Cultivate system—survey, framework, tools, and resources—can support teachers as they work to understand and improve the daily experiences and beliefs of students in their classrooms.
- Cultivate was designed and validated to provide a safe space for teachers to get feedback from their students on how their instructional efforts are being received.
- Importantly, Cultivate is not a tool for accountability, nor is it designed to be used to evaluate teachers. Its primary purpose is to cultivate a partnership between teachers and learners.
WHEN do students take the Cultivate Survey?
- The Cultivate Survey takes 15-20 minutes to complete and is taken by middle grades and high school students twice a year: once in the fall and again in the spring.
- Students are randomly assigned to respond to questions about one of their classes each year (math, social studies, English language arts, or science).
WHAT happens after students take the survey?
A Cultivate Survey report shows how learning conditions in the school are actively shaping students’ mindsets, motivation, and use of learning strategies:
- Principals receive a Cultivate Survey report after the survey window closes. The report shows what students said about their learning mindsets (e.g., belonging, agency, identity safety, and academic risk-taking—broken down by grade level and subject area), and their use of learning strategies (e.g., monitoring strategies and organization/time management).
- The Cultivate Survey report also provides student feedback on 9 learning conditions in their classrooms:
- Affirming Identities: Recognition and affirmation of student identities
- Classroom Community: Sense of community and mutual support among classmates
- Feedback for Growth: Nature and quality of teacher feedback to improve student work
- Learning Goals: Accessibility and connectedness of instructional goals
- Meaningful Work: Interest and relevance of classroom learning for students
- Student Voice: Opportunities for and responsiveness to student ideas and input
- Supportive Teaching: Breadth and quality of teacher’s instructional support for learning
- Teacher Caring: Strength and quality of teacher’s one-on-one relationships with students
- Well-Organized Classroom: Clarity and helpfulness of classroom systems and routines
- The survey report culminates with a list of Prioritized Learning Conditions, ranked according to which will provide the school (or grade-level or subject area team) the most leverage to positively affect students’ mindsets, strategies, and ultimately their learning and development.
- Additionally, each learning condition is shown alongside its related set of survey items and is accompanied by a detailed practice guide. These connections assist teachers in their efforts to strengthen that learning condition—to build the kind of learning environments that strengthen students’ mindsets & strategies and, ultimately, allow all students to thrive.
HOW does Cultivate fit in with what we’re already doing in my classroom/school?
- Teachers are always working to improve their classrooms—whether by implementing new organizational systems or strengthening the sense of community among students. Cultivate provides teachers with another data point they can use to guide their continuous improvement efforts—a data point from students, the people best positioned to weigh in on how classroom improvement efforts are going.
- Schools using both 5Essentials and Cultivate are able to utilize both a broad and a deeper understanding of students’ classroom experiences, and thus identify different levers to help improve conditions at both the school and classroom levels.
- The 5Essentials measures five elements that comprise school organization and climate, covering everything from academics, to workplace culture, to the engagement of families and community.
- Cultivate digs in deeply to one subset of the 5Essentials ecosystem, “Supportive Environment.”
WHERE can I get more information?
- UChicago Impact administers the Cultivate Survey, and has detailed information on the survey and supporting resources, including professional learning and practice guides.
- Your school or district has information about the Cultivate Survey in your school and classroom, including survey administration dates and professional learning opportunities.
- Chicago’s details for 2022 can be found on the CPS website.
- Teaching Adolescents to Become Learners has more details on the connection between students’ learning environments, mindsets, and later outcomes.
- Do classroom environments matter for noncognitive aspects of student performance and students' course grades? Has more details on the validation work for the Cultivate Survey.
Students’ classroom experiences shape not only their academic learning—
but also their beliefs about
what kind of person they are,
what they are capable of,
what kind of place school is,
how people feel about them in school,
what kind of world they live in,
whether it’s a place that is kind and fair, or brutal and indifferent.
All of these beliefs are being shaped every minute, every day, in every classroom—and as you can clearly imagine, they have a powerful influence in the course of a young person’s life, well beyond school.
Camille Farrington, Cultivate co-creator