Temperature Impacts Student Performance

March 14, 2006
High school students honored for research at a recent EPA symposium

Hot, cold, or neutral - which temperature is most conducive for learning? Three members of the Science Research Club from Westview High School in Beaverton, OR, set out to answer that very question. According to The Council of Educational Facility Planners (CEFPI), Sophomore Josean Perez, Junior Julio Montano, and Senior Jose Perez were recognized with a Special Achievement Award for their research at this year’s Environmental Protection Agency symposium (held in Washington, D.C.).

The idea to study the impact of temperature on student performance developed when students at Westview complained about temperature control in the high school building. To reach a conclusion, the researchers conducted several aptitude tests on freshmen in classrooms with varying temperatures to determine how well they performed.

While results from initial testing in Phase 1 of the project were not conclusive, the researchers’ more stringent tests during Phase 2 revealed that temperature clearly impacts the attention span of students. According to the research findings, the average test scores for students in different classes were similar in the same category. In the cold classroom, the average temperature was 61 degrees F.; average test results were 78 and 74 percent. In the classroom that was too warm (the average temperature was 81 degrees F.), average scores were 72 and 73 percent. And in the neutral [or control] classrooms, students’ average scores were 87, 92, and 93 percent with the average temperature set at 72 degrees F.

The students’ teachers and club advisors (Debbie Cooper and Mark Green) supervised the study. To find out more, visit the CEFPI website (www.cefpi.org/epa_temperature.html).

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