Lighting for Learning: Rethinking school environments

This project is researching alternative models of low energy lighting to enhance learning in the secondary school classroom.

Information technology is now ever-present in the learning environment. Pen and paper is often replaced by the laptop, and the low reflective blackboard supplanted by the digital whiteboard and projector. But despite these changes, artificial lighting in classrooms has hardly evolved.

This study explores how better lighting can support educational needs within the technology-driven secondary school classroom for students aged 11 to 17. In particular it challenges prevailing attitudes that more light automatically means improved concentration by adolescents. Instead the study adopts a less technical and more humanistic perspective on lighting, one that takes into consideration the biological and psychological needs of both teachers and pupils.

Mixed methods
The project has adopted a range of research methods including: a literature review; expert interviews with architects, lighting designers and educational psychologists; observations in schools in the UK and Hong Kong; and teacher workshops. The study seeks to answer three main questions: how can lighting support the learning process? How can low energy lighting positively impact the school environment? And how can lighting influence the use of educational technologies in schools?

Insights and data collected in the first year of the study will be supplemented with a further international study in Norway during winter, to see how having few hours of daylight impacts lighting in schools. A series of light experiments will also be designed, installed and tested in UK classrooms to gain a clearer understanding of alternative models of sustainable school lighting.

Megaman logo
Megaman logo

Research Associate 2013: Amanda Buckley

Research Partner: Megaman Charity Trust Fund, Hong Kong, China

RCA Department: Design Products

Project Period: 2012-2014