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New light system improves children's concentration

The University of Twente and Philips are conducting joint research into the effectiveness of a light system specially designed by Phillips for schools. The new system allows teachers to control the light intensity as well as the colour temperature to suit classroom activities. Initial findings show that children in classes where the system is used score on average 8.7 percent higher in concentration tests. More importantly, their concentration levels continue to increase with time. A month later, the pupils scored an average of 13.6 percent higher.

In collaboration with the research groups Educational Organisation and Management and Marketing Communication & Consumer Psychology at the University of Twente, Philips is conducting research into the effects of school lighting on the learning process of primary school pupils. The research is being conducted at Veldvest Primary School in the village of Wintelre in the south Netherlands using a new light system developed by Philips called SchoolVision. Initial results, which focused on concentration levels, showed that light had an immediate and sustained effect on a child's concentration span. Children in classes where the system was installed scored on average 8.7 percent higher in a concentration test. Moreover, during the first month of the light system being in place, their concentration levels continued to rise and a month later the pupils recorded an average of 13.6 percent. Further findings showed that children who struggled with reading tasks scored an average 10.3 percent higher in a concentration test than those not using the new light system.

IN PRACTICE

The initial research results corroborate the school's experience, as Jane van der Heijden, headmistress of Veldvest Primary School, explains. "We begin in the morning with a bright light that has an energizing effect and usually end the day with a warm light that has a calming effect and is conducive to discussion or creative activities. Both the pupils as well as the teaching staff benefit from the change in lighting. We are very impressed with the results of the SchoolVision lighting."

THE RESEARCH

The impetus for the project was the need for a greater understanding of the effects of lighting on learning abilities, a subject little researched to date. Researchers addressed the question: 'Can variety in light intensity and colour have a positive effect on the concentration levels, behaviour, well-being and performance levels of children at primary school?' The system was installed in November 2009, with the first concentration and ratings tests carried out in December 2009. A second school, De Rank Primary School in Veldhoven, is also participating in the SchoolVision project. A total of 98 pupils across two schools and four classes are taking part in the 9-month research project.

SCHOOLVISION

SchoolVision lighting is a lighting system that allows users to control the light intensity and colour temperature to suit classroom activities. With the aid of a control panel, teaching staff can adjust the lighting as required. They can choose between the following settings: Energy, Calm, Standard and Concentration.

The University of Twente's research method comprises different phases and measurements. The researchers tested the hypothesis that certain light settings improve concentration, reduce restlessness and increase motivation. The next steps in the study will look at the long-term effects of light on children's motivation, well-being and performance levels. The final results will be presented in September.