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How Daylight Boosts Student and Teacher Performance


How Daylight Boosts Student and Teacher Performance

Research spurred by sustainable school initiatives and heightened international test score competition has shown that daylight has a large positive impact on student and teacher performance. With several decades of studies to draw from, the data makes it clear that schools with a "daylight deficit" are missing the chance for serious educational improvement, and may be hurting their students in the process.

How Daylight Combats Myopia

The world is experiencing a myopia crisis, with rates in the United States and Europe more than doubling over the last 50 years. Research first conducted during the U.S. industrial boom a century ago pointed the finger at reading, with the idea that peering at books was causing myopia. Those findings were later discredited by improved research methodology, which has since settled on sunlight as the biggest player in myopia rates.

The easiest and most effective way to combat myopia is by providing exposure to daylight during childhood and adolescence, when the eyes are most likely to develop the condition. Researchers at the University of Canberra have shown that exposure to at least three hours of strong sunlight per day are necessary for students to achieve therapeutic effects.

Beyond making it easier for children to read and study, the ability for sunlit classrooms to combat myopia also reveals a link to a more fundamental human bio-mechanic: the circadian rhythm.

Circadian Rhythm and Education

The role circadian rhythm plays in human biology is both straightforward and far-reaching, and it is almost entirely dependent on exposure to sunlight. The human body is easily confused when it comes to deciding what time of day it is, to such a degree that sitting in a dimly lit classroom is enough to make the brain think it's night and time to prepare for sleep by ramping down mental activity and hormone levels that are crucial for sustained concentration. This means that a poorly lit classroom is quite literally putting the brains of students to sleep.

Daylighting and Education Performance Levels

The California Public Utilities Commission funded a study of three schools across the country that evaluated classroom performance in comparison to levels of sunlight. By comparing student and teacher results between classrooms with poor window coverage and those with abundant sunlight, researchers discovered an average 25 to 30 percent performance boost in well-lit rooms, across all subject areas and curriculum types.

Meta-studies of national research reinforce these findings and report more than 20 percentage points, on average, of improvement in test results for day-lit elementary schools when compared to the U.S. average.

How Tubular Daylight Devices Can Help

Many schools around the world use buildings that are decades or even centuries old. Repurposed buildings are common, especially in European cities, and those older designs often have inadequate lighting thanks to small, infrequently spaced windows. With a heavy reliance on masonry-based, load-bearing outer walls, such buildings are often impossible to retrofit with larger windows.


Tubular daylight devices (TDDs) like Solatube Daylighting Systems present a perfect solution. They don't require working around masonry walls, but are instead installed straight through the roof. By routing filtered sunlight into a classroom, a TDD can dramatically improve light levels, boosting the health of those inside.

With such clear ramifications for performance, schools may no longer have a choice when it comes to improving their students' access to daylight.

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