Studies confirm that the blue light emitting from smart phones, tablets, and computers may hinder sleep patterns. It‘s also been found that the blue light adversely affects mood. So, does blue light impact how one performs in school?
When it comes to the role of lighting in the classroom, having the right form of light is fundamental to the student’s ability to concentrate.
Fluorescent lights plague many classrooms. This is because the flickering of fluorescent lights, as well as poor release of lighting, interferes with the student’s concentration. However, dynamic LED lights are an ideal replacement because they don’t flicker like fluorescent lights and can also offer better lighting overall.
Here are three ways that lighting in the classroom can affect the student in the classroom.
1. Mood and Concentration
Walk into most classrooms today and you’ll notice that fluorescent lights line the ceiling. Despite advances in lighting technology, these dated lights have remained the same.
Unfortunately, fluorescent light flickering is linked to not only lack of concentration aMing students, but also to mood. One 2009 study from a sample of 90 U.K. schools found that an “imperceptible 100 Hz flicker from fluorescent lighting” inside classrooms can cause “discomfort and impair task performance” (Winterbottom 2009).
LED lights are an alternative to fluorescent lights for schools seeking to combat poor concentration.
When we think of waking up and being productive, people tend to think a yellow light is what matches the sun. However, it’s actually the blue light that emanates from the sun in the morning which induces the feeling of being awake and ready for the day.
6,500 Kelvin (K) lighting is considered ‘cool’ and most closely resembles sunlight that’s ideal for a productive environment in which students take tests. 3,500 K lighting, which is much ‘warmer’ with tones of yellow, is ideal for recess as it provides a more relaxed environment. 5,000 K lighting is ‘neutral’; ideal for activities such as reading.
The Epsom and Ewell High School is the first school in the U.K. to have a classroom lighting system, Philips’s SchoolVision, which is specifically designed to improve the learning environment for pupils using dynamic LED lighting. A study of this U.K. high school indicates that the implemented lighting system has had a positive impact on student concentration levels.
2. Academic Performance
It might not seem like a big deal, but, as mentioned, lighting is important. Classrooms with LED lighting instead of fluorescent actually score higher on tests and show a higher level of concentration.
Students show increased productivity during tests when given the opportunity to work under 6,500 K lighting than students working under fluorescent lights.
The Epsom and Ewell High School discovered similar results after installing SchoolVision. City University London carried out a series of standard D2 tests, which measure concentration, as well as focus group research with teachers and pupils. This research shows that:
- Year seven pupils in one SchoolVision classroom increased test scores by 17 points
- Year seven pupils in the other SchoolVision classroom improved test scores by 40 points
- A control group demonstrated no improvement in concentration levels over the same time frame
These findings echo those from other research into the effects of the SchoolVision lighting system. A yearlong study in a primary school in Hamburg, Germany found that, with the SchoolVision lighting system, student reading speeds increased by 35 percent, frequency of errors fell by almost 45 percent and restlessness was reduced by 75 percent.
Not only did concentration improve, so dI’d test scores. Studies by The Optical Society (OSA) show that dynamic lighting improves student classroom performance. When lighting was at 6,500 K, students scored higher on tests and performed better. Reading activities were ideal in a 3,500 K environment.
Remember coming in from recess, full of energy, and the teacher wheeled out a TV and turned off the fluorescent lights? This signaled for us that it was time to calm down and get ready for another lesson.
Putting lighting into teacher control can help students focus on learning. For example, a presentation at the front of the classroom can be more effective by giving the instructor the option to adjust classroom lights according to location of lights, not only the type of light being usee. Keeping lights on at the front of the room can highlight the lesson.
Though some schools are taking action to change fluorescent lights to more adjustable LED lights, schools have a long way to go toward making progress on improved lighting. Costs for positive lighting adjustments need not be exorbitant. Consider certain cost and expense analysis when transitioning from fluorescent to LED lighting.
Simply changing lighting in a learning environment can markedly improve education. As classrooms advance, teachers everywhere should expect to be as excited as students to realize the benefits of a well-lit space.
The potential reward is the brighter student.
David Hakimi is a lighting specialist and one of the co-founders of Alcon Lighting. A graduate of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), David works on the front lines of the energy-efficient lighting revolution, enabling architects, designers, and lighting engineers to transition from outmoded halogen and fluorescent lighting. David takes particular pride in Alcon’s design, energy, and green building knowledge, tracing his and Alcon’s commitment to quality, innovation, accountability and value back to the lessons learned from his father, a Southern California lighting salesman and consultant for more than two decades. Passionate about climate change and protecting the environment, David has been particularly valuable in ensuring that his clients and customers comply with rapidly-evolving green building codes.
At Alcon Lighting’s LA headquarters, co-founder David Hakimi adopted a 12 year-old dog named Nano and decided to bring him into the office every day. Let’s just say it garnered some attention. It quickly became clear that Nano, who’s now 14 years old, relishes a long nap. Nano likes to hop and curl up in an easy chair, resting his head on the arm, drifting into slumber. In fact, David says this is Nano’s favorite activity.
If the work of lighting design was just left to services engineers to meet regulation-determined illuminance criteria per application, then interior and exterior architectural spaces would become soulless environments. Using qualitative measurements, architects and lighting designers can make sure the architectural intention and aesthetic character of a space is not compromised.
“98% of what gets built today is sh**. There’s no sense of design nor respect for humanity or anything. They’re bad buildings and that’s it.” – Frank Gehry. Fun fact: One of Frank Gehry’s most famous works as an architect is his own private Santa Monica residence.
The term Architectural Lighting encompasses three main factors. The first is the building’s aesthetic, which is crucial for any commercial, especially retail, environment. The second consideration is ergonomic or functional — any aspect which improves one’s ability to live, work, function, relax or play — to make the space easier to use. The third aspect involves the efficiency of energy, ensuring that light is properly, which is to say economically or optimally, used and distributed.
In 2016, Architectural Lighting interviewed lighting designer and founder of Pfarré Lighting Design, Gerd Pfarré, shedding light on the legendary designer’s process, what’s most important when lighting a space and what the future holds for lighting. While Pfarré’s is a career is a storied one, he did not start out in the industry.