A Case Study Examining the CCT of Fluorescent Lighting on Student On-task Behavior in an Elementary School Classroom

Presented by: Alana Pulay, Marilyn Read, Elif Tural, Seunghae Lee

The objective of this study was to examine if correlated color temperature (CCT) of fluorescent lighting in an elementary school classroom influenced student on-task behavior. Fluorescent lamps are the most common type of light fixture installed in public school classrooms yet architectural codes do not specify a CCT level. Higher CCT levels of lighting have been shown to increase alertness and improve productivity in the workplace (DeKort & Veitch, 2014). Students that spend more time in on-task behaviors are engaged with the academic material and expected to have higher levels of cognitive development (Fisher, Godwin, & Seltman, 2014). Thus, the study utilized on-task behavior, which is defined as doing the task given by the teacher, as a measure that would predict productivity and academic success in children. A conceptual theoretical framework on interior lighting and human behavior was developed and tested to investigate student on-task behavior. Using the process-based theory development procedure and the theory synthesis process, a new conceptual theoretical framework was created by organizing, categorizing, and linking concepts from the existing interior lighting frameworks (Boyce, 2004; DeKort & Veitch, 2014; Kretchemer, Schmidt, & Griefahn, 2012). The conceptual theoretical framework was tested in a pilot study using the process-based theory development procedure. The study examined student on-task behavior under fluorescent lighting with a lower CCT as compared to fluorescent lighting with a higher CCT in an elementary school classroom. Results indicated that the theoretical framework needed refinement and expansion to include and explain relationships between other interior environment variables present within a classroom that possibly contribute to student on-task behavior. The theory synthesis development strategy was implemented to create a refined theoretical framework that included other interior variables within a school facility. The refined theoretical framework was tested in a case study that investigated student on-task behavior under 3000K CCT as compared to 4100K CCT of fluorescent lighting in a public school second grade classroom. Twenty-seven students, between the ages of seven and eight years old, participated in the study. Student on-task behavior scores were collected for five months by non-participant observations. On-task behavior scores were recorded using a time interval data collection procedure documented on a numerical scale as “1” is on-task and “3” as off-task. On-task behavior scores were averaged and used in combination with ethnographic data collection techniques to document student physical movement throughout the room and on-task behavior under each lighting condition. Correlations, paired-samples t-tests, multiple linear regression, and qualitative analyses were utilized to analyze the data for this study. The results indicate that students displayed more on-task behavior under fluorescent lighting with a CCT of 4100K than fluorescent lighting with a CCT of 3000K. Further analysis resulted in correlations between student on-task behavior independently, and in combination with other interior environment variables present within the classroom environment such as size of furniture, noise level, and teacher behavior management techniques. In conclusion, this study provides suggestive evidence that the CCT of the interior lighting is among the variables that contribute to the interior classroom environment and student on-task behavior. The interior environment variables create the school facility quality. A high quality school facility is linked to high levels of student academic success (Uline, Wolsey, Tschannen-Moran, & Lin, 2010). Since the interior lighting is only one interior environment variable, additional research on how lighting interacts with other variables will help uncover connections between the school environment and positive student academic outcomes.


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