UI research finds students benefit from classroom views of green landscape


Tyler Courtney | The Daily Illini

The Main Quad at the University of Illinois.

By Yi Zhang

Students studying in a classroom with windows and a green view will perform better academically than students studying in a windowless classroom or a room without a green view, according to a new study.

The research, conducted by Dongying Li, graduate student in Landscape Architecture, and William Sullivan, head of the Department of Landscape Architecture, will be published in the April 2016 issue of the journal “Landscape and Urban Planning.”

“Our research focus is (on) how classroom window views will influence high school students’ performances,” Li said. “Theory has suggested that having a green view may help people to release stress, thus we want to find out the influences on students and how we want to design the campus.”

Rose Schmillen, graduate student in landscape architecture, said that the impact scenic views have on people is often overlooked. Schmillen said that high school students were interviewed by Li and randomly assigned to three different rooms — one with a “green view,” one with a “barren view” and an unaffected room.

To understand how students are affected in the classroom, the participants were asked to complete a reading and present a short speech. They were also asked to complete a “mental calculation,” where they need to continuously subtract a four-digit number until they were incorrect.

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    Li said her hope to influence the way school buildings are designed is marked by her concern to improve student performance; this desire is what primarily fueled her research.

    “Students usually have (fewer) resources to deal with academic stress, and increasing green views is a low cost way to approach human health and releasing students’ stress,” Li said. “There is a trend that high school buildings should not have windows or should block them, because students will get distracted.”

    Pongsakorn Suppakittpaisarn, a doctoral student in landscape architecture conducting similar research, stated Illinois high schools have the opportunity to impact the psychology of students.

    “High school classrooms in the Midwest have seen a lot of parking lots, but why don’t we have something not just pretty but also something healthy to the students?” Suppakittpaisarn said. “It is not only research about landscape architecture, but also research that indicates psychological aspects and human health impacts.”

    Li said that the results from the research are statistically significant and show that there is a correlation between green views and attention capacity. She said the results showed there’s no negative impact on students’ attention span when comparing the barren view or “no condition” view.

    Li said that the research could apply to college students too, although she said the University campus already does a good job at providing green views for students between classes.

    “People’s concentration capacity is limited, so it is better for college students to come out of the classroom and take a break to see the green view after 50 to 90 minutes of class,” Suppakittpaisarn

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