How LED Lighting Can Affect Student Performance In Classrooms.
Posted on August 26 2016
It is no secret that the right lighting can set the mood for any occasion. Otherwise, we would not have the term " Candle Light Dinner " in our world.
In the recent years, a lot of research have been conducted to determine the right amount of lighting to increase productivity at work, or even to improve our sleep. Then the big question gets asked: if it can affects worker productivity, would it not also affect student performances ?
There are several studies regarding this subject, and beneath are a few notable ones:
- The major lighting manufacturer Osram conducted a survey study with biologically optimized lighting as its focus back in 2011 and 2012. The result? color temperatures, planarity, and light dynamic do affect student's attention in class.
- The Optical Society published a similar study by the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology just recently, with similar results on elementary students.
- Dr. Ellen Mannel Grangaard of the University of Nevada published a dissertation back then in 1993, claimed that fluorescent lights often used in classrooms can be disruptive for student's concentration, leading to daydreaming, talking with other students, and many other off behaviors.
We'll further discuss some notable points brought out in the studies, and how to create a productivity-inducing lighting system for students. Before we begin, this video from Phillips regarding the subject might entice you.
1. LED VS Fluorescent
Since its invention almost a century ago, fluorescent lightings has been the lighting of choice for classrooms, even nowadays.
However, as mentioned in the above study by Dr. Ellen Mannell Grangaard, fluorescent lighting can be disruptive for student's concentration and performance.
The disruption is caused by the illumination process of the fluorescent itself, where the low-pressure gasses are constantly moving to collide with the fluorescent, or phosphorescent materials.
The movement of the gasses, commonly low-pressure mercury vapor combined with other gasses, is seemingly unseen by our naked eye. However, it can be distractive in a subconscious manner, causing loss of concentration and even subconscious tiredness.
The newer LEDs, which are common nowadays, are working in a different manner,producing a steady and consistent color spectrum at all times.
On the contrary, LED ability to cover a wide range of spectrum can increase alertness of students, as we will discuss in our next section.
2. Color Temperature
Osram's research regarding the subject, as mentioned, is focusing on how to optimize lighting according to our biology. In their study, they found out that high color temperatures from 6,500 Kelvins and above are more suitable for human.
Our photoreceptors, the neurons in our retina that process lights, respond strongly to blue light, which is found on higher color temperatures.
The most optimal color temperature that will help concentration and alertness, Osram claimed, is 8000 Kelvin or higher. Fluorescent lamps are typically operating in 4,500 Kelvin range, with the highest being slightly below 6,000 Kelvin, clearly way below this optimal number.
Osram also mentioned that although warm-white color temperature halogens (3,200 Kelvin range) can achieve the same effect, it will need a significantly higher light intensity, which translates to higher energy requirement.
In terms of efficiency, clearly, LEDs are the best choice to achieve the intended color temperature.
In their study, Osram used multiple 4,000 Kelvin LEDs as a direct lighting above the classroom, which in conjunction with their specially designed indirect LED lighting, achieved close to 14,000 Kelvin in total.
The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology's research utilized different color temperatures at three classrooms, 3,500 K , 5,000 K, and 6,500 K. The results? Students in the 6,500 K class achieved better test results.
Both Osram and Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology also agrees that lighting dynamic according to the time of day and activities will also affect overall performances of the students.
The South Korean research suggested that warm lighting (their 3,500K classroom) is best utilized to encourage recess, while the 5,000 K lighting is better for not too intense activities such as reading. 6,500 K, as mentioned, is best utilized for high-performance academic activities.
To achieve the dynamics required, a smart control system can be utilized to eliminate the needs to install multiple lightings.
Nowadays, smart LEDs that can be controlled by smartphones are also available to achieve this purpose, as we have covered in our previous article.
After we understand the principles of how LEDs will affect student performance, here are some guides for implementation you can use:
- An in-depth guide from Lux Magazine with a few design alternatives as well as tech specs.
- This is a very comprehensive guide regarding illuminance in a classroom from the Lighting Unit.
- When in doubt, refer to the U.S.'s National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities school lighting guideline.
Optimizing LED Lighting For A Better Education
We have learned how LED, with proper implementations, can lead to a major improvement in student performances.
LED showed great advantages over other lighting sources to achieve the optimal color temperature without sacrificing energy efficiency. May the brightness of the LED bring the bright future of the next generation.