The other evening, I came back into my dorm room to find my roommate sitting at his desk wearing a PSU beanie and a black leather coat. To clarify this is very out of the norm for him. I asked why he was all bundled up and he said that our room was too cold for him to focus. The temperature of the room felt like a crisp 68 degrees which is the perfect temperature for me to do my work. This caused me to consider what effect temperature had on a student’s performance and so I looked further into the concept.
I found a study that was conducted on rats to assess the affect that temperature changes on their memory. The experiment observed the speed at which rats were able to react to a slight shock and find a smaller compartment in which the electrical current was not present. The study showed that at higher temperatures, the rats reaction times were slower, whereas in the cooler temperatures there was no difference in reaction time to the subject’s baseline reaction time. Learning that it did in fact have an effect on rats made me even more curious as to whether or not it had an effect on humans. I was fortunate enough to find a study done by a school in Oregon in which students performance was observed in different temperatures.
Each student that participated was randomly chosen. The test administered to the students was composed of basic shape memorization, colors, and basic math equations. The classrooms were adjusted to three temperatures: 61 degrees F, 72 Degrees F, and 81 Degrees F. The students were put in the room for 10 minutes before the test in order to acclimate to the temperature. After the experiment was complete, the data showed that students in the warmest room, 81 Degrees F, did the poorest on the test with an average of 72%. Those in the cooler room were more likely to score higher by 4% or more. The students who performed the best were those in the 70 Degree F range
This study demonstrated that students are likely to perform better academically when the temperature is cooler rather than hot. That being said they will do their best when the temperature in the room is more neutral than not. Although this experiment rules out reverse causation, it still has several flaws such as the fact that the students in each classroom were taking different tests. All in all, these studies show that it’s better to work in a place that is cold rather than a place that is hot. The next time you study or work somewhere that’s hotter than normal, think about how that might affect your productivity. I guess since we do better academically in the cold, it’s a good thing that we all chose to attend school in State College.