Does the change in temperature affect school performance?

There was a sudden drop in temperature during the past several weeks. The decreasing level of temperature and the increasing amount of exam made me recall a statement I used to heard about long time ago: Temperature affect study performances. It might be a weird correlation if we think about it at first, but what if that it is real? Maybe the coldness does affect our exam scores. I think it is an interesting topic to explore.


In one study that related to the topic, a test was given to the ninth graders who were separated in six different classrooms. The room was either heated up by hot plates around it, or cool down by sinks of ice. Researches compared the test scores of those students who did their test under different temperatures, in order to come up to a conclusion. However, the results of the first trial wasn’t significant. After some discussions upon the possible errors, a second trial was produced by increasing the temperature difference in the room. The results of the second trial showed that temperature do affect academic performance, but it wasn’t strong enough to show how strong the correlation was between the two variables.

To make the study clear enough, I analysed the bar-graphs of the two study trials below and listed some of my thoughts:


This graph is the initial data collection from the first trial in the study. The temperature difference was only around 2℉, which didn’t make a great difference. To me, the changes of the scores in this trial weren’t distinctive enough to drive to the conclusion, therefore the differences might be due to change, causes either a false negative or a correct decision. To make sure the results really works. The second trial was set up with some adjustments of the temperature.


This is the result of the second trial, greater differences in temperature (about 10 ℉) were applied this time. From the test scores shown in the graph, we could say that both cold and warm temperature do bad to scores.

However, the conclusion was only based on one trial of the study. Although the second trial produced a much distinctive trend to support the correlation between temperature and study performances, I don’t think the datas are strong enough. More studies are required to support the correlation.

Another study was based on a single blind crossover experiment on two classes of 10-12-years old students. The temperature was manipulated for a week while two numeral tasks and two language tasks were given during the period to the students. The study concluded that the performance generally improved when the temperature reduced to 68℉ and the outdoor air supply rate increased to 9.6L/s. This means that students performed better in a neutral environmental condition. 

  Both studies conclude that temperature affect academic performances, but I think more things need to be concern about:

  1. The age groups of the participants in both studies are too specific. Most of them are middle school students. Maybe college students would perform differently? So I think there should be more studies on other age groups.
  2. The population is too limited. The datas are too small to represent the population in general.
  3. Maybe students from tropical areas would perform differently. I think more studies need to be done with students in other areas and countries.

In general, I think those two studies are a good starting point. Meta-analyses are required as a further discussion on this correlation. Since, it isn’t a hard experimental designed study, more studies could be done based on this topic, therefore, generates a further discussion on this correlation.

3 thoughts on “Does the change in temperature affect school performance?

  1. Zihan Wang

    Hi, Xueyao Cao. I admit that your topic do attract me because temperature in my life is variable dramatically. I like cold temperature to make my mind more clear. I can’t stand hot condition because it makes me feel sleepy. The data in your blog is great, and I can compare two charts to see the class material play a important role on experiment results. The conclusion in different charts is extremely different, due to temperature change causes either a false negative or a correct decision. Finally, you provide us your analysis and completion that neutral temperature is most acceptable during studying. I think your conclusion make me sense, and I will monitor air-condition to make temperature approach neutral. There are some other factors affect performance, here is a video for you

  2. Olivia Anne Browne

    This is a great post. I always felt when the summer came around my grades started to suffer, alone from the temperature there are just so many more distractions. Now being here at Penn State, with our brutal winters, I wonder if they have any specific effects on our grades then to say if we were studying somewhere In Florida. Overall I think a comfortable temperature is necessary for learning in all cases. I can definitely see on the charts you provides the slight – significant difference in the performance!
    Great job.
    Check out this article on how bad weather effects school performance.

  3. Brendan Mironov


    I enjoyed reading your blog post about the correlation between temperature and test scores. I was extremely interested to see if there actually was a correlation between the temperature of a room and test grades. Personally, I find it troublesome to study when it is too hot in my room or when it is too cold. I am glad to know that the study showed that I am not the only one. However, I was interested to know why in fact were test scores higher when the temperature was 72 degrees Fahrenheit vs 82 degrees. What is the mechanism for this? That is something that I wish you would have touched on in your blog and I believe that it would have really put your blog over the edge. My intuition says that students perform better because their minds are more focused on the actual subject at hand rather than how hot or cold the room is. This article does a good job of explaining and talking about possible reasons for why test grades are higher during room temperature conditions.

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