Windows with a View Improve Student Performance

The grass is greener for students who have access to classrooms with windows overlooking a natural, green landscape.

The grass is greener for students who have access to classrooms with windows overlooking a natural, green landscape.

A new study published in Landscape and Urban Planning demonstrates that students recover from stress and see their attention restored faster if they are able to view a green landscape out the window compared with students who do not have access to windows or only see man-made structures.

The researchers conducted their study with 94 students at 5 high schools. The students were randomly assigned to classrooms without windows, classrooms with a window that opened onto a built space, or classrooms with a window showing green space.

The students participated in classroom activities, such as a proofreading exercise, a speech, and a math exercise, and then took a break in their assigned rooms. After the break, they took an attention test.

Researchers used Digit Span Forward and Backwards to study attentional functioning, plus body temperature, skin conductance, and other measures to study physiological stress.

The results showed that students who saw green landscapes had significantly better scores on attention tests; their ability to pay attention increased 13%. They also demonstrated better recovery from stress.

There was not a significant difference in scores between students who had no window view and those who had a window overlooking a parking lot or another building.

The study also found that the green landscape view did not affect students’ performance if they saw it before the activities. The view only made a difference when the students worked, then took a break, and then participated in another attention test.

The researchers argued that their findings could have implications for school site selections, designs, and renovations.

“It’s a significant finding that if you have a green view outside your window, you'll do better on tests,” said researcher and doctoral student Dongying Li in a press release.

This was the first study to examine a causal relationship between green views and students’ performance, according to the authors.