Compassion instead of competition – study reveals how classroom climate can improve academic performance

By Dominic Kleinknecht
Eberhard-Karls-Universität, Tübingen Germany

U.S. and Israeli researchers looked at data of over 15 years and came to the conclusion that positive classroom climate can help bridge achievement gaps and improve academic outcome. They found that a positive school climate allows for greater equality among the students in terms of educational opportunities; they also noted an increase in social mobility while at the same time socioeconomic inequalities were decreased. Most importantly, they described how students from poor socioeconomic backgrounds benefited the most from a positive classroom climate. For them, the school can act as a powerful stronghold to negative influences and risks that threaten academic achievement that arise from their background. While said students had the edge over other students in terms of benefits, the subjective perception of the school climate was found to be independent from socioeconomic status, indicating that schools in poorer districts do not necessarily have a poor climate, and that a positive climate can be fostered to help the students succeed. In their study, they pinned down the positive school climate to four factors: caring teachers, student connectedness, sense of safety from violence or bullying, and parental involvement, and based their research on the perceptions of students. While this study has already provided helpful results to build upon, the researchers propose a more holistic approach on schools as a community of different groups and a uniform definition of what constitutes a positive school climate for future research, so that the research can translate into policies that benefit and help everyone in a school community.

American Educational Research Association (AERA). "Positive school climates can narrow achievement gaps, comprehensive research review confirms." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 November 2016.