Monday, May 2, 2011

How classroom lighting can help students learn

This is quite an interesting article from the New Zealand Herald (originally from The Observer) on how the way that lighting is used in a classroom can have an impact on the learning of students.  However, the price of installation may mean setting it up is beyond the means of most schools.

Mood lighting helps pupils learn
A revolutionary new method for improving academic performance is being used in Germany and the Netherlands and is now being tested at an English school.

The scheme uses changes in lighting to modify students' mood and behaviour.

Both light intensity and colour temperature can be altered and, crucially, pupils are allowed to ask for these changes in class.

The result, said head teacher Alex Russell, at Epsom and Ewell high school in Surrey, southern England, has been a marked improvement in pupil performance since the scheme was introduced in September.

"We have found that the children, without exception, love the experiment," said Russell. "They say they have a greater sense of focus, they are able to achieve more and feel it is part and parcel of a learning environment they can be successful in."

The lighting scheme, known as SchoolVision, is a creation of Philips, the Dutch electronics corporation. It is already used in 20 schools in Germany and more than 80 classrooms in the Netherlands and costs about £5500 ($11,340) to install.

Four different light settings are used. A normal setting is switched on when pupils are coming in or out of a class, and three others are known as focus, calm and energy.

"The energy setting is a very intense blue and is used in the morning when some of the older pupils have difficulties getting out of bed," said Russell. "Calm is redder and is used typically after break periods. Focus is a bright white light that is switched on during exams, tests or any other types of assessment."

So far, the experiment has been restricted to two science labs, part of Russell's bid to boost numbers of students taking scientific subjects beyond the age of 16.

"These lighting schemes are a scientific experiment," he said. "Science is now seen as exciting and relevant thanks to schemes like this." 

By Robin McKie

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