Seeking A+ Maximizing Student Focus with Color

Posted in Independent Research Program on Jan. 7, 2020

ARTICLE 01Color use in classrooms brought interesting discussion among our interviewees. Educational psychologists and therapists both responded that too many colors and too many bright colors are distracting.
Dr. Lynn Navin, PhD, is the Director of the University Child Development Center with the University of Missouri-St. Louis School of Education. Dr. Navin states the best color selection for young children involves natural colors instead of bright colors. Natural colors allow for children to be attentive to learning materials posted throughout a classroom instead of having their attention drawn to bright color highlights of classroom architecture.
Leah Dunn, an occupational therapist with Kirkwood School District in Missouri, points out with regard to the Inclusive Classroom mix of general education and special education students sharing space, color selection is even more important as special needs students are especially sensitive to colors.
A meta-analysis published in the Journal of Family & Consumer Sciences Education (Gaines & Curry, 2011) provides insight into color schemes for Inclusive Classrooms. The analysis concludes that over-stimulation through color causes sensory overload. Conversely, the use of color does indeed increase attention and motor abilities as opposed to white and off-white environments.

So what are the best applications of color in the learning environment?

While studies do not name the perfect colors to use in learning spaces, the following are recommendations for all classroom types:

  1. A warm neutral color palette should be the basis of walls, floors, and ceilings.
  2. The wall students see when gazing up from their studies should be a medium hue.
  3. Strong colors and primary colors should be placed carefully, while soft colors can be used throughout classroom areas

Gaines, K.S., & Curry, A.D. (2011). The inclusive classroom: The effects of color on learning and behavior. Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences Education, 29(1), 46-57.

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