Classroom Temperatures and Learning

School is right around the corner. In fact MANY schools in Minnesota start before Labor Day. Some of our hottest days are still ahead, and many of our elementary, middle and high schools are NOT air-conditioned.

Years of teaching adults management and sales training taught me that 72˚ was the optimal learning temperature. We even carried our own portable temperature gauge with us! But what about our kids classrooms? How do classroom temperatures affect their learning? Do classroom temperatures matter when it comes to comprehension and test taking? What about our teachers? Do high or low temperatures interfere with their ability to teach?

Studies show that high classroom temps as well as low temps, can affect a student’s ability to learn and function. Dunn and Dunn of say that when temperatures are too hot or too cold, the brain is constantly reminding the body to regulate that condition. Because of constant brain interruption, it is hard for the student to stay focused.

Another study done by Loyola University found that air temperature has an impact on memory ability. Using a computer generated memory test, 52 students randomly participated in tests in rooms with varying temperatures. The rooms were set at 72, 80 and 63 degrees F. The outcome showed that in the environment with temperatures of 80 or 64 degrees, memory was impacted negatively. Test scores were significantly higher in the classroom where the temperature was 72˚.

As we all know from living in Minnesota, high levels of humidity, usually accompanied by hot weather, also impact concentration, increase sleepiness, and contribute to a lack of energy.

So, the teachers suffer, as do the students and their overall ability to focus, function efficiently and ultimately learn. Just something to think about.