Shedding Light on Learning: The effect of ambient light on learning capability

Friday, February 17, 2017
Exhibit Hall (Hynes Convention Center)
Daniel Haller, Marvin Ridge High School, Waxhaw, NC
Jainith Patel, Marvin Ridge High School, Waxhaw, NC
Ashwin Kulshrestha, Marvin Ridge High School, Waxhaw, NC
In recent decades, much research has been conducted in order to determine how to construct a learning environment that best facilitates the learning process. An ideal learning environment would be inexpensive to produce and maintain, aesthetically pleasing, and most of all, conducive to student learning. As such, determining efficient, low-cost means to optimize the learning environment would be of great use to educators and administrators throughout the U.S. The immediate objective of this research is to quantify the impact of various ambient light environments, so that the ideal light setting for students can be determined. Our learning study measured differential learning ability in high school students as a response to three ambient light environments commonly employed by educators: Natural light, semi-darkness, and artificial (fluorescent) light. Across multiple subject areas and times of day, artificial light was consistently shown to be the most effective lighting for student learning. This suggests that traditional fluorescent lighting in public schools may serve as a “trigger” for a student to enter the learning mindset. Future studies will analyze impact of ambient light on a broad variety of students, including those who have not been conditioned to associate fluorescent lighting with a learning mindset, as well as to quantitatively characterize the optimal ambient light setting for learning. This research is of great use to educators who seek to maximize the learning potential of their students through the most efficient means possible.