Award Date

5-2011

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (MSME)

Department

Mechanical Engineering

First Committee Member

Douglas Reynolds, Chair

Second Committee Member

Brian Landsberger

Third Committee Member

Darrell Pepper

Graduate Faculty Representative

Gwen Marchand

Number of Pages

223

Abstract

This study examined the effect on student performance, perception and mood caused by different physical classroom environmental conditions. Three classroom physical environmental conditions were investigated; room temperature, light intensity and sound level. A two phase pilot study was performed where these conditions were compounded into one and two levels were selected in such a way to create a normal and extreme classroom physical environment. A total of 154 undergraduate UNLV students participated in the two phase pilot laboratory study in which they completed tasks related to reading and listening to an oral presentation of a passage of high density technical information. The test subjects' performance scores and survey responses to the classroom physical environmental conditions and their mood were compared between the normal and extreme classroom environments.

The Phase I study involved the test subjects reading the test passage. There was no significant difference in their responses to how their task performance and attention to the task were affected by the normal and extreme classroom environments. There was no statistical difference in the test scores between the group exposed to the normal classroom environment and the group exposed to the extreme classroom environment. In addition, there were also no reported differences in comfort levels and mood between the two test groups. A root cause analysis identified several possible factors that could have contributed to these results. These included: insignificant difference in comfort levels between the two test groups, the university student test group was capable of filtering out the negative effects of the extreme test environment, low test instrument sensitivity, low statistical power, and the absence of a motivation factor to give the reading test passage a fair effort.

In the Phase II study the test subjects completed a task in which they viewed an oral presentation of the same test passage used in Phase I. For the oral presentation, significant differences were found to exist in the test subjects' test performance, comfort levels, irritability, and perception of how the environment affected their task performance and attention to the task. The test subjects in the Phase II study were more susceptible to the negative effects of the extreme classroom physical environmental condition.

The effect size which was identified in Phase II study was small and does not justify performing a full factorial laboratory study for investigating the effects of classroom temperature, lighting and sound on student learning performance. A root cause analysis identified the university student test group and the lack of the motivation factor as possible causes that could have influenced the effect size which was detected. A useful way to somewhat isolate the influence of each parameter on the output would be to replicate the Phase II pilot study three times in the extreme test condition while each time one of the parameters is set to its normal levels. Following this test, the next phase of the study would be to replicate the laboratory pilot study in actual K-12 classroom setting for both the reading and oral presentation of an appropriate age-level test passage

Keywords

Classroom environment; Human comfort; Learning ability

Disciplines

Biological Psychology | Educational Psychology | School Psychology | Social Psychology and Interaction

Language

English


Share

COinS