Frequently Asked Questions: Cultivate

Frequently asked questions about the Cultivate Survey & Framework

What is Cultivate?

Cultivate is a survey and framework that illuminates how teaching practices—from how quickly assignments are graded and returned to how students are greeted—influence students’ Learning Mindsets and Learning Strategies (Mindsets & Strategies), and, in turn, their grades, identity development, and well-being. It provides educators with insight into 6th-12th grade students’ self-reported Mindsets & Strategies—how they see themselves as learners and the way they approach their work.

Cultivate also provides actionable insight into students’ perceptions of their learning environments—the Learning Conditions that matter most for cultivating the strong Mindsets & Strategies that fuel strong academic performance, positive identity development, and well-being.

How does Cultivate help improve student grades?

Cultivate is grounded in research from The University of Chicago Consortium on School Research that establishes a link between Learning Conditions (certain aspects of students’ learning environments), Mindsets & Strategies, and, in turn, academic performance, identity development, and well-being.

Sometimes a student’s Mindsets & Strategies can get in the way of their learning and result in lower academic performance as measured by grades. Teachers can foster more positive Mindsets & Strategies in their students through the classroom environment they create, thus unleashing students’ potential to learn and improve their academic performance, because research has shown that students who report more positive learning environments are more likely to have stronger Mindsets & Strategies.

Therefore, educators can use the results Cultivate provides to help guide the creation of learning environments and experiences that will promote stronger Mindsets & Strategies that lead to stronger academic performance that is reflected in students’ grades.

What are Learning Mindsets and Learning Strategies (Mindsets & Strategies)?

Mindsets & Strategies are aspects of students’ social, emotional, and academic development that shape their performance in school—specifically, Learning Mindsets, Learning Strategies, and Motivation. Learning Mindsets are students’ perceptions about themselves and the work they are doing in their classes, such as having a growth mindset or a sense of belonging. Learning Strategies are the tools and approaches students use to support their learning, such as their ability to monitor their own thinking and progress.

Who takes the Cultivate Survey?

The Cultivate Survey is designed for students in grades 6-12.

What classrooms are students answering questions about?

The Cultivate for Schools survey randomly assigns students to answer questions about one of their core classes (math, science, social studies, and English). Teachers who are in a coaching support program that uses Cultivate for Coaches administer the survey to all of their students regardless of the subject they teach. 

How many times a year is the Cultivate Survey administered?

Cultivate is administered twice a year—once in the fall and once in the spring.

How are Cultivate Survey results disaggregated?

Results from the Cultivate for Schools survey can be disaggregated by grade level, subject area, or a combination of both.This allows grade level or subject area teams to use this information to identify patterns and better understand how learning environments differ across different groups of classrooms. Results from the Cultivate for Coaches survey, administered in the context of a coaching support program, can be disaggregated by the different class periods teachers teach.

What will Cultivate tell us about our students?

Students taking the Cultivate survey will report on their own Mindsets & Strategies within a particular class, including how they see themselves as learners and the way they approach their work in that class. Students also report on how they perceive the Learning Conditions in that class. Much like how students with stronger Mindsets & Strategies are more likely to get better grades, students who report more positive Learning Conditions are more likely to report strong Mindsets & Strategies. The nine Learning Conditions that matter most for fostering strong Mindsets & Strategies are:cultivate framework

  • 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

After each survey administration, Educators receive a comprehensive picture of students’ perceptions of their learning environments, Mindsets & Strategies, and a set of Prioritized Learning Conditions they can use to guide efforts to create learning environments that support all students.

Are Cultivate survey results designed to evaluate teacher practice?

Cultivate results are not designed to be an accountability tool or evaluative of teacher practice. Cultivate is a measure of students’ perceptions of what teachers do in their classrooms and the results are designed to help teachers adjust their practices in ways that foster strong Mindsets & Strategies and, in turn, better academic performance for students, as well as a stronger sense of identity and well-being.

How is this approach different from other approaches to improving students’ grades?

A common approach to improving student grades is imparting more content knowledge or implementing entirely new curricula. Instead, Cultivate equips educators with the information they need to adjust their practice and the learning environments they create in ways that help students thrive in their learning and well-being through existing curricula.