Positive Learning Climate Print or save as PDF

How is it defined?

Positive classroom climate is associated with positive student behaviour in the classroom. It is concerned with the extent to which students internalize the norms and vales of the classroom, (DiPrete, Muller, & Shaeffer, 1981), which is affected by the formal and informal rules of the classroom, the effectiveness of classroom management strategies, and the relationships between students and teachers (Ma & Willms, 2004).

The Learning Bar’s framework on the drivers of student outcomes includes measures of quality instruction, school context, classroom context and family context. Classroom context includes measures of positive teacher-student relations, positive learning climate, and expectations for success.

Why is it important?

A positive learning climate is related to students’ academic achievement and well-being:

  • Classroom disruptions impact academic achievement; therefore, schools should strive to create orderly classrooms that facilitate a positive disciplinary climate (Ma & Willms, 2004).
  • Effective discipline is characterized by enforcing fair, consistent, and clear rules (Rutter, 1983).
  • Students who describe their classroom disciplinary climate as positive are more likely to report high levels of interest, motivation, and enjoyment in learning (Willms, Friesen, & Milton, 2009).
  • Students are more likely to be intellectually engaged when classroom and school learning climates reflect effective use of learning time, positive teacher-student relations, and positive disciplinary climates (Dunleavy, Milton, & Willms, 2012).

How do we measure it?

In the OurSCHOOL elementary and secondary school surveys, students respond to Likert questions regarding the extent to which they internalize and respect the norms and values of the classroom relevant to a positive learning climate. The data is scaled on a 10-point scale and the results are reported as “the average score for positive learning climate”.


DiPrete, T. A., Muller, C., & Shaeffer, N. (1981). Discipline and order in American high schools. Washington, DC: Statistical Information Office.

Dunleavy, J., Milton, P., & Willms, J. D. (2012). Trends in Intellectual Engagement. What did you do in School Today? Research Series Report Number Three. Toronto: Canadian Education Association.

Ma, X. & Willms, J. D. (2004). School disciplinary climate: Characteristics and effects on eighth grade achievement. Alberta Journal of Educational Research, 50(2), 169-188.

Rutter, M. (1983). School effects on pupil progress: Research findings and policy implications. ChildDevelopment, 54 (1), 1-29.

Willms, J. D., Friesen, S. & Milton, P. (2009). What did you do in school today? Transformingclassrooms through social, academic, and intellectual engagement. (First National Report) Toronto: Canadian Education Association.