Have you ever stopped to think about the importance of windows? Most of us don’t. Windows are standard; thus, we have light. Therefore, it isn’t an issue or concern. However, lighting has more importance than most of us may have ever considered. Daylight and its impact on our students’ productivity and consequently their ability to learn is profound.
Many of us are aware that vitamin D is essential to our overall health and well-being. As a result, we need a certain amount of direct sunlight to maintain a healthy life. But did you know that daylight also impacts our ability to perform optimally?
A recent study explored the effect of daylight on student productivity. It focused on both windows and skylights as a way to isolate and illuminate daylight within classrooms. Ultimately, conclusions were found regarding the connection between daylight and student performance.
Student performance data were analyzed from three elementary school districts: located in Orange County, California, Seattle, Washington, and Fort Collins, Colorado. Over 21,000 students’ test scores were part of the research. Elementary schools were chosen because children at that age spend most of their school day in a single assigned classroom. The only exceptions are lunch and a brief period on the playground or in the gym. Obviously, this extended period in one room would have a similar impact as to a centralized office environment.
In contrast, students in middle schools and high schools tend to move from classroom to classroom throughout the day. Consequently, their environments change six to eight times daily and their access to daylight does as well. Therefore, researchers reasoned that if the physical environment affects learning, it would be easier to identify any effects at the elementary level.
Each classroom was assigned a series of codes on a simple 0-5 scale. This scale differentiated between the size and tint of its windows, the presence and type of any skylighting, and the overall amount of daylight expected. The study used data from two separate tests for each district: math and reading.
Capistrano School District
The daylight conditions at the Capistrano school district were the most diverse. Consequently, the data from that district were also the most detailed.
Overall, the research included the change in student test scores over a school year. The study concluded that students with the most daylight in their classrooms progressed 20% faster on math tests and 26% on reading tests than those with the least amount of daylight. Likewise, students in classrooms with the largest windows were found to progress 15% faster in math and 23% faster in reading than those with the least amount of daylight.
Some students had a well-designed skylight in their room, one that diffused the daylight throughout the room. In addition, the teachers could control the amount of daylight entering the room. These students improved 19-20% faster than those students without a skylight.
Additionally, students in classrooms where windows could be opened were found to progress 7-8% faster than those with fixed windows. This was the case regardless of whether the classroom also had air conditioning. Moreover, these effects were all observed with 99% statistical certainty.
Seattle & Fort Collins School Districts
The studies in Seattle and Fort Collins used the final scores on math and reading tests at the end of the school year, rather than observing the amount of change from the beginning of the year. In both of these districts highly significant and positive effects regarding daylighting were found. Students in classrooms with the most daylight were found to have 7% to 18% higher scores than those with the least.
The three districts have different curricula and teaching styles, different school building designs as well as different climates. However, the results of the studies show consistently positive and highly significant effects of daylight on student productivity and advancement.
Student productivity maximized
As concluded from previous studies regarding office workers’ productivity (link to last article) and lighting, thermal comfort also affects productivity. Heat reduction, particularly for those seated next to windows, should also be considered a priority. Ensuring daylight while inducing heat reduction can both be obtained with specific window films in the classroom.
Now we know a reduction in interior heat while allowing in the maximum amount of sunlight can enhance the learning capacity of students significantly. This is just one reason why school districts across the country are installing window film on their campuses. Solar window films can also aid in energy efficiency and carbon neutrality.
Now that the Inflation Reduction Act has been implemented schools will have additional incentives available to support the implementation of window films in their districts. Consequently, we can positively impact our student’s capacity to learn and grow in their school environment, if we implement the right window film.
Moreover, solar window films can also be used in conjunction with security window films. This is a service that is taking precedence in schools across the country at this time. To learn more about this innovation watch our CEO’s recent webinar on the subject.
Feature Photo by Green Chameleon