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The Effect of LED and Fluorescent Lighting on Children in the Classroom

Authors:

Abstract

It is widely understood that lighting plays a critical role in our human condition. Research has evaluated how lighting can affect focus, concentration, motivation, and work and school performance. Color rendering and correlated temperature is a variable that has become an issue due to the move toward high efficiency lamp requirements and government regulations. Fluorescent lamps have been the standard choice for school systems to provide efficient quality lighting, however, negative impacts to the built environment and human experience have been found. LED lamps are the most recent high efficient lamps to be integrated into the built environment and more studies are evaluating their positive impacts. Some studies show a major increase in positive perceptions and behavior within the work and classroom environment when incorporating LED lamps with higher color correlated temperatures; specifically, positive engagement and increase in on-task behaviors. The purpose of the study is to examine the effects of high color temperature LED and fluorescent lighting on children’s behavior in the classroom. The study will include a survey of children ages six to twelve, regarding perceptions and attitudes of classroom lighting; and a mock-up laboratory pilot study, quantity five-six children, and laboratory final study, thirty children; ages seven to ten. The anticipated results will support the hypothesis that high color correlated LED lamps versus fluorescent lamps, will result in improved on-task behavior of children within a classroom environment. Keywords: LED, fluorescent, children, classroom, on-task/off-task, behaviors, performance
Running head: EFFECT OF LED AND FLUORESCENT LIGHTING ON CHILDREN
The Effect of LED and Fluorescent Lighting on Children in the Classroom
Brenda L. Morrow
&
Shireen Kanakri, PhD, Architect, EDRA
Ball State University
Research Paper
December 12, 2017
EFFECT OF LED AND FLUORESCENT LIGHTING ON CHILDREN 1
Table of Contents
Abstract 2
Introduction 3
Statement of the Problem 3
Review of Related Literature 4
Statement of Hypothesis 14
Method 14
Participants and Recruitment 14
Instruments and Method 15
Design and Procedure 16
Results 16
Discussion 22
Conclusion 23
References 25
Appendix A 27
EFFECT OF LED AND FLUORESCENT LIGHTING ON CHILDREN 2
Abstract
It is widely understood that lighting plays a critical role in the human condition. Research
has evaluated how lighting can affect focus, concentration, motivation, work, and school
performance. Color rendering and correlated temperature is a variable that has become an issue
due to the move toward high efficiency lamp requirements and government regulations.
Fluorescent lamps have been the standard choice for school systems to provide efficient quality
lighting, however, negative impacts to the built environment and human experience have been
found. LED lamps are the most recent high efficiency lamps to be integrated into the built
environment with more studies evaluating their positive impacts. Some studies show a major
increase in positive perceptions and behavior within the work and classroom environment when
incorporating LED lamps with higher color correlated temperatures; specifically, positive
engagement and increase in on-task behaviors. This study examined empirical research on the
effects of high color temperature LED and fluorescent lighting on people, focusing on the effect
on children in the classroom. A survey was developed for children ages five to fourteen
addressing perceptions and attitudes of classroom lighting and its impact on emotional attitudes,
behavior, and actions. Children were recruited from four local public-school districts and two
local parochial schools, with the survey being administered at a local children’s afternoon event.
The results support the theory that 5000K or higher LED lighting within a classroom positively
impacts perceived attitudes and behaviors of alertness, focus and performance. It is suggested
that further studies need to directly measure attitudes and behaviors of lighting in the classroom
through controlled laboratory experiments, as well as the impact of dynamic or tunable lighting
on children in the classroom.
Keywords: LED, fluorescent, children, classroom, behaviors, performance, perceptions.
EFFECT OF LED AND FLUORESCENT LIGHTING ON CHILDREN 3
The Effect of LED and Fluorescent Lighting on Children in the Classroom
Lighting within the built environment is an important factor on human development and
functioning. Research has shown that daylight can impact human mood, performance, and well-
being; including children in schools. According to Wurtman “Light is the most important
environmental input, after food and water in controlling bodily functions.” (Wurtman, 1975)
However, daylight must be supplemented with artificial lighting and today’s society is exposed
to more artificial light than daylight. (Veitch, 1995) Our children are expected to attend school to
learn and perform at optimum levels. Energy conservation requirements have forced schools to
implement energy efficient lighting solutions. For many years fluorescent lighting has been the
solution to provide energy efficiency and high illuminance for school environments; and have
evolved to include full-spectrum lamps that simulate daylight. Recently, LED (light-emitting
diodes) have come to the forefront due to their efficiency, longevity, and ability to provide a full,
smooth, and unbroken spectrum. The downside has been the cost to retrofit or implement LED
lamps within the school environment, and most studies examining the benefits to student
behavior and performance have been based on fluorescent lamps. It’s imperative to provide
artificial lighting that enhances the classroom experience for children and teachers that enables
strong cognitive function and supports positive behavior. LED lamps are the next step in the
evolution of lighting interior environments to ensure a positive effect on human performance and
well-being.
Statement of the Problem
Providing lighting that supports the various needs within a classroom continues to be a
struggle. When designing a built environment to impact learning there are several categories that
are addressed and evaluated: 1) Attainment: improvements in curriculum attainment measured by
EFFECT OF LED AND FLUORESCENT LIGHTING ON CHILDREN 4
standardized tests or exams, or as monitored by teacher observation. 2) Engagement:
improvements in levels of attention, more on-task behaviors observed, decrease in distracted or
disruptive behavior. 3) Affect: improvements in self-esteem for teachers and learners, increased
academic self-concept, improvements in mood and motivation. 4) Attendance: fewer instances of
lateness or absenteeism. 5) Well-being: impacts on the physical self, relating to discomfort as
well as minor major ailment. (Woolner, 2007). Lighting can play a major role in supporting
learning and behavior within the classroom. There has been an expanse of past research
examining the non-visual effects of lighting on humans, however, the majority has focused on
fluorescent lamps. This study reviews current literature regarding the impact of fluorescent and
LED lighting while implementing a survey that examines perceived emotional and behavioral
effects of LED versus fluorescent lighting on children in the classroom.
Review of Related Literature
Reducing energy is an important factor for both environmental and economic reasons.
However, lighting technology needs to be evaluated on its benefits and expectations beyond
reduction of energy supply and costs. Cowan and Daim (2011) established four behavioral
categories that should be evaluated: 1) performance expectations (fitness for purpose); 2) Effort
Expectancy (ease of use/operation); 3) Social Influences (norms and image); Facilitating
Conditions (compatibility/perceived behavioral control). Veitch and Newsham propose a
behaviorally based evaluation of the quality of lighting into six categories: 1) visual
performance; 2) post-visual performance; 3) social interaction and communication; 4) mood
state; 5) health and safety; 6) aesthetic judgement. (Veitch & Newsham, 1997) Fluorescent and
LED lamps are the leading solutions to meet these expectations and research continues to try and
fully understand how these lamps affect humans.
EFFECT OF LED AND FLUORESCENT LIGHTING ON CHILDREN 5
Fluorescent and LED Lamp Overview
Fluorescent lamps have evolved from warm and cool to full-spectrum color rendering.
The color rendering index (CRI) scale is from 0-100 and excellent color rendering is at values
over 76, with pure sunlight at a CRI of 100. The correlated color temperature (CCT) is also a
critical measurement when evaluating light sources and is measured in Kelvin (K); 3000K and
below provides a red/yellow warm and 5000K and above blue/cool. A temperature of 3500K –
4000K continues to be the lamp of choice for many classroom environments. Illuminance is also
a measurement factor to ensure the recommended brightness level for various built environments
and activities. The Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) recommends the light level for
classroom desktops to be 60 foot-candles (fc).
Fluorescent and LED lamps both have the capability of meeting the various light out-put
and coloring needs, however, there are advantages and disadvantages. Fluorescent lamps use
phosphor coatings to improve color perception, such as full-spectrum fluorescent which emulates
daylight and diffuse UV radiation. They also contain mercury which can be toxic and need to be
disposed of appropriately so not to induce health risks. (Havas, 2008)
LEDs can produce more light per watt than many fluorescents lamps, therefore having a
higher efficiency. Visible light is created by an electrical current passing through a microchip.
They radiate very little heat and typically have a longer, more useful life. Instead of burning out
like other light sources, LEDs dim slowly over time creating lumen depreciation. They can be
dimmed and turned on and off quickly. They also use phosphor coatings to convert colors to
white light, however, they do not contain gaseous toxins. High color rendering can also be
achieved with LEDs without requiring more power due to using fewer lumens while still
EFFECT OF LED AND FLUORESCENT LIGHTING ON CHILDREN 6
producing light that is affective for people to work and function. (Papamichael, et al, 2016).
Although LEDs are still priced higher in the market than fluorescents, this is slowly starting to
change with new developments and life cycle cost analyses that are continuing to be evaluated.
(Cowan & Daim, 2011)
Non-Visual Effects: Health
Research supports that lighting systems can have non-visual effects on humans when
exposed over long periods of time. Hathaway (1992) conducted a two-year study that evaluated
full spectrum fluorescent (FSPF) with ultraviolet light supplements, cool white fluorescents, and
high-pressure sodium and the effects on students dental, growth and development, and
attendance histories. There was found to be less dental decay, greater height and weight gains,
and better attendance and academic achievement for students receiving UV light supplements
versus those who were in the non-UV group. Groups under sodium vapor lighting had the
slowest and lowest rates in all categories. (Hathaway, 1992)
Other health risks that are continuing to be researched are radio frequency radiation and
ultraviolet radiation of compact fluorescents (CFL) and tube fluorescent (T8 and T12). People
with electro-hypersensitivity can be affected by various types of lighting. Irlen syndrome or
scotopic sensitivity syndrome are spectral disorders that have been associated with broken color
fluorescents or spikes of green/orange/magenta that cause sensory overload. Symptoms can
include headaches, dizziness, nausea, eye strain and burning, and in extreme cases seizures,
cardiac and respiratory issues. (Havas, 2008) A survey by Havas indicated self-proclaimed
electro-hypersensitivity (moderate to extremely sensitive) to be highest for headaches when
exposed to both tube and compact fluorescent and lowest with LED. (Havas, 2008)
EFFECT OF LED AND FLUORESCENT LIGHTING ON CHILDREN 7
Light flicker can occur in fluorescent and LED lamps and is defined as the rapid and
repeated change in light brightness or intensity, typically occurring at 120Hz modulation. Flicker
may or may not be visible to the human eye. Many studies have found that normally functioning
fluorescents can be a source of flicker and have biological effects such as a general feeling of
discomfort, illness, headaches, eye strain (IEEE, 2010) and reduced speed of visual search and
performance (Veitch & McColl, 1995) This can occur in fluorescents due to voltage fluctuations,
dimmer switches, and the type and age of ballast. LED lamps can also have visible and non-
visible flicker, however, with the appropriate frequency and modulation depth, can be flicker-
free. (IEEE, 2010)
Non-Visual Effects: Behavior and Performance
Lighting and the non-visual effects on behavior and performance have been studied in
relation, but not limited to, color rendering, mood, focus, cognitive performance, alertness, and
visual acuity. Many of these studies are based in theoretical research of our bodys natural clock,
or circadian rhythm which regulates our sleep/wake cycle; our body responds/awakens to bluish
light as experienced in morning hours, and warmer light causes the brain to release melatonin
which prompts us to relax and prepare our bodies to sleep. (Govén, et al, 2009; Kuller, et al,
2006).
Knez (1995) evaluated mood and cognition of ninety-six subjects ages 18-55. Two
studies were implemented within an experimental room setting. All planes of the room and
furnishings were neutral in color and there were no windows. The independent variables for
Experiment 1 were: 2 illuminance levels (300 lx vs 1500 lx); 2 color temperatures (3000K vs
4000K); each at a high CRI 95; and 2 genders, totaling four lighting conditions per gender.
EFFECT OF LED AND FLUORESCENT LIGHTING ON CHILDREN 8
Dependent variables included cognitive tasks including problem solving, free recall, and
performance appraisal; plus, mood and room light evaluation measures based on PANAS
(Positive Affect Negative Affect Scales). Positive Affect (PA) reflects whether a person feels
enthusiastic, active, alert; where Negative Affect reflects distress or unpleasantness. A 5-point
unipolar Likert scale of seven questions was used to evaluate the rooms light: glaring, dim, soft,
bright, warm, intense, cool. Experiment 2 was implemented identical to the first except for using
a low CRI 55. The results indicated that the color temperature and illuminance that induced a
positive mood enhanced performance in problem solving and free recall tasks. The subjects’
mood and their cognitive performance varied significantly between genders, indicating that
genders emotionally had different reactions to the color temperature (Experiment 1) and
combinations of color temperature and illuminance (Experiment 2) at different CRIs. (Knez,
1995)
Past lighting research has indicated that light sources with good color rendition are
preferred over those with poor color rendering properties, and perceive that objects appear more
clear and sharp. Studies continue to establish evidence of the importance of accuracy of color
rendering and the contribution that color perception makes to visual performance.
Veitch & McColl’s study (2001) supports lamps having color temperature of 4000K and
high CRI provide visual clarity. As cited by Hawes (2010), Knez and Kers (2000) found that
younger adults elicit a negative mood in warm versus cool fluorescent lighting while working on
cognitive tasks and Mills et al. (2007) illustrated that very high color temperature fluorescent
lighting in the workplace can enhance alertness, reduce fatigue, and increased productivity.
Hoffmann et al. (2008) demonstrated that 6500K compared to 4000K enhanced levels of arousal
and concentration. (Hawes, 2010)
EFFECT OF LED AND FLUORESCENT LIGHTING ON CHILDREN 9
Grangaard studied the effects of color and light on the behaviors of six-year old children
in the classroom environment. Grangaard states, It is said that the environment educates because
the learner interacting with the environment will be more or less motivated, more of less
productive as determined by the elements of his environment. (Grangaard, 1995) An ABA
method included three phases where color and light were manipulated. First phase was the
original classroom environment of orange and white walls and cool-white fluorescent lamps;
second was the test phase with light blue walls, full-spectrum fluorescent; and the third was
changed back to original environment in phase one. Each phase lasted ten-days, children were
video-taped for 15 minutes at the same time in the morning and afternoon. The childrens blood
pressure was also taken same time morning and afternoon. Three educators were trained to count
off-task behaviors identified on the video tape. Off-task behaviors included the child: 1) is not
visually following the lesson; 2) appears to be attentive, but playing with objects; 3) moving
chair or body precluding ability to concentrate on lesson; 4) appears to be daydreaming, not
involved; 5) bothering children around them; 6) overtly acting out, not attending to lesson. There
was a 22% decrease in off-task behaviors during phase 2 where only the wall color and
fluorescent lamps were manipulated. (Grangaard, 1995)
Smolders & de Kort (2016), studied the effects of correlated color temperature (CCT) on
alertness and vitality in the morning versus the afternoon. A multi-measure approach was utilized
to examine the effect of 2700K vs 6000K fluorescent lamps, with 500 lx (45.5 fc) on desktop.
Thirty-nine students participated in the laboratory study on two separate days. In one session
they were exposed to 2700K and the other to 6000K. Morning and afternoon sessions were
scheduled at the same time of day. There was no daylight in the room. Subjective sleepiness,
energetic/arousal, tension, mood, and self-control were measured using the Karlinska sleepiness
EFFECT OF LED AND FLUORESCENT LIGHTING ON CHILDREN 10
scale (KSS; Akerstedt & Gilberg, 1990); Activation-Deactivation checklist (Thayer, 1989);
energy and arousal used four items (energetic, lacking in energy, alert, sleepy. Tension consisted
of two items (tense and calm). Positive affect and negative affect were measured by single item
(happy and sad). All response scales were a 1-4 definitely not to definitely. The self-control
response measure used a 7-point Likert scale. Four different task performances were assessed. A
baseline performance was measured using 4000K along with a short questionnaire prior to
initiating three repeated blocks of 20-minute sessions where the lighting was changed from
2700K or 6000K. Results were mixed indicating higher energy/arousal under 6000K in the
morning, but no significant effects in the afternoon. Participants rated both mood and the light
settings as less positive in the 6000K vs 2700K. The findings highlight that a persons current
psychological state of fatigue may play a role in how they respond to bright light during the day
and that further research and development of dynamic and personalized lighting systems may
assist with alertness and overall mental well-being.
Non-Visual Effects: Studies using LED versus Fluorescent
The effects of lighting on humans has focused on fluorescent lamps over the last several
decades, however, more recent studies are examining LEDs and their effect on the work and
classroom environments, including dynamic or tunable lighting.
Ferlazzo et al. (2014) studied the effects of LED light sources on participant performance
of visual spatial abilities and executive functions. A specifically design environment with fully
controlled light was used to study forty-four college students with a mean age of 25.6. 2800K
halogen lamps vs 4000K LED lamps were implemented in the experimental cabin. Results
EFFECT OF LED AND FLUORESCENT LIGHTING ON CHILDREN 11
suggested that cooler light exposure improves cognitive abilities to deal with multiple tasks or
task switching, creating fewer errors in the mental rotation of 3-D objects.
Hawes, et al. (2011) studied LED versus fluorescent and their effect on worker
performance. The authors hypothesized that lower color temperature would be associated with
low arousal or sleepiness and negative mood, versus higher color temperature; therefore, causing
slowed response during the performance of two cognitive tasks. Twenty-four subjects
participated using a repeated-measures design that required participants to visit the laboratory on
five consecutive days. Four lighting systems were implemented: 1) traditional fluorescent with
an average color temperature of 3345K; 2) LED 1 with an average color temperature of 4175K;
3) LED 2 with an average color temperature of 5448; and 4) LED 3 with an average color
temperature of 6029K; the general illumination was 32.6-foot candles. The Farnsworth-Munsell
100 color hue test was used for two color recognition tasks; the Adapted Snellen Eye chart was
used for the visual acuity task; two different cognitive tasks were implement after a 15-minute
passive cognitive task allowing participants to adapt to the lighting conditions. The Profile of
Mood States (POMS) questionnaire used a 5-point scale and measured mood assessment. The
repeated-measures analyses of variance (ANOVAs) were used to identify main effects of the
lighting conditions, followed by using paired t-tests. Effect sizes were indicated using eta-
squared for the ANOVAs and Cohens d for the t-tests. The study found four main results: 1)
visual perception of color recognition showed faster performance with lighting of higher color
temperatures; 2) higher color temperatures generally led to increased state of arousal and lower
color temperature led to lower rated depression; 3) one verbal and one spatial cognitive task
showed faster reaction times with higher color temperature; and 4) evidence indicates lighting
induced improvements in participant mood predicting faster cognitive performance. The study
EFFECT OF LED AND FLUORESCENT LIGHTING ON CHILDREN 12
indicates that LED at higher color temperatures supports positive mood, wakefulness, and speed
in performance of visual perception and cognitive tasks relative to traditional fluorescent at
lower color temperature. (Hawes, 2011)
Mott, et al, (2012) studied the effects of high intensity, glare free lighting (referred as
focus light setting) increased third grade students oral reading fluency. Eighty-four third graders
were exposed to fluorescent focus lighting (6000K at 1000 lux) or fluorescent normal lighting
(3500K at 500 lux). This was a quasi-experimental design using four randomly assigned
classrooms. A motivational questionnaire was executed adapted from Pintrich and Degroot
(1990) for third grade level. A d2 Test of Concentration (Brickenkamp & Zilmmer, 2010) was
used to measure student ability to concentrate. The test takes approximately eight-minutes to
administer and has an internal consistency above .90. The results found no effects of lighting on
motivation, however, focus lighting of 6000K led to a higher percentage increase in oral reading
fluency performances versus the control lighting. (Mott, et al. 2012) A new study by Mott, et al
in 2014 examined the use of three preset lighting settings: 1) focus, 2) calm, and 3) normal over
an entire academic year of at-risk third grade students. Similar findings during this study
occurred as the first study in which the focus lighting students increased their oral reading
fluency scores at a greater rate than the normal lighting students.
Sleegers, et al., (2012) implemented three studies to evaluate dynamic lighting within
childrens classrooms. Dynamic or tunable lighting is a newer concept that allow the user to
adjust the color temperature and illuminance via different lighting settings throughout the day.
These different settings can be applied to support alertness and relaxation and are defined by
Sleegers as Energy (12000K); Focus (6500K); Calm (2900K); and Standard (3000-4000K).
Sleegers, et al., evaluated LED lamps at different Kelvin temperature and their effect on
EFFECT OF LED AND FLUORESCENT LIGHTING ON CHILDREN 13
concentration and gender performance. There were three studies, Study 1 and 2 were pre-
test/post-test nonequivalent control groups. Study 1 used two schools consisting of a control
group using conventional luminaires with a color correlation temperature (CCT) of 4000K and
no dynamic lighting. The experimental group classroom used dynamic lighting with focus setting
of 6500K during concentration tests; and standard, energy and calm settings throughout the
remainder of the day. Study 2 used two classrooms with one assigned to the control setting and
one the experimental setting. The control group classroom was equipped with fluorescent T8s at
a CCT of 3000K, and the experimental group classroom with LED 30000 K for pre-test and
6500 K post-test. Study 3 implemented a post-test only control group within a windowless
lecture room. A researcher manipulated the lighting system between standard (3000-4000K) and
focus (6500K). All three studies found, on average, that concentration and performance increased
in the experimental groups. Results also indicated improved concentration may be based on
grade level, with grade 4 students more affected than grade 6. There were mixed results based on
concentration performance of gender when comparing statistics from each study. (Sleegers, et al,
2012).
Various other studies have examined how the built environment can affect children in the
classroom. Dr. Shireen Kanakri, et al. (2017) developed a survey in 2016 to gain teacher insight
and perceptions regarding the impact of acoustics and lighting on behaviors of children with
autism. The authors also implemented an observational study using a high definition video
camera and behavioral recording software to evaluate differences in behavior between loud and
quiet classrooms. (Kanakri, et al., 2016). Kanakri is currently studying the effects of lighting on
the behavior of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). A pilot study observed five
children with high functioning autism, ages 6-8 years old, within the Ball State University
EFFECT OF LED AND FLUORESCENT LIGHTING ON CHILDREN 14
Autism Design Research Lab. The same children were observed performing the same tasks
within the controlled environment using fluorescent light and LED lighting. The results indicated
an improvement of unwanted behaviors with the intervention environment of LED lamps.
Statement of the Hypothesis
Findings from existing literature suggest that lighting interventions within the built
environment can affect behaviors and performances of humans. The implementation and effects
of dynamic and tunable lighting is still being studied in regards to its long-term implications,
however, when examining focus and concentration, Mott, et al (2012, 2014) and Sleegers, et al
(2012) support the theory that high Kelvin LED lamps can have a positive effect. Grangaard
(1995), Knez (1995), Smolders & de Kort (2016) and Hawes, et al (2011) all implemented
laboratory studies with results supporting the theory that high correlated color temperature
(CCT) has positive effects on cognitive performance and on-task/off-task behaviors. Hawes, et al
(2011) specifically compared fluorescent and LED lamps which indicated better perceived
performance and arousal states with high CCT LED lamps. It is hypothesized that higher Kelvin
temperature LED lamps versus fluorescent lamps will result in a childs positive association of
focused behaviors, actions, and attitudes within a classroom environment.
Method
Participants and Recruitment
Thirty-five children from six schools, four public and two parochial elementary and
middle schools, were recruited to participate in the study. All the schools currently have
fluorescent lighting implemented in their classrooms at 3000 K 4000 K. Children and their
families were invited to a local Sunday afternoon children’s event where the survey was
implemented. Parents of participating children provided permission by responding to an email
EFFECT OF LED AND FLUORESCENT LIGHTING ON CHILDREN 15
invitation one week prior to the event. There was a 91% response rate with thirty-two of the
thirty-five recruited participants completing the survey.
Instruments and Materials
The survey, consisted of twenty questions created in Qualtrics with the purpose of
determining perceptions, attitudes and behaviors of children and lighting in classrooms. The
children were asked to provide demographic information regarding their age and gender. The
survey addressed children’s perceptions of images illustrating the same classroom implemented
with fluorescent (3000-4000K) lamps versus LED (5000 – 6500K) lamps. Children were asked
to select between the two images as to which classroom they prefer for specific activities. (i.e.,
reading at desk; drawing and writing; taking a test; sitting quietly at desk). Using a multiple-
choice 5-point Likert scale, children were also asked to rate their emotional response to various
classroom images evaluating calm/excited; sleepy/awake; interested/bored; safe/anxious. (i.e.,
calm; a little calm; neutral; a little excited; excited) Facial emojis were included to assist
reliability of responses for children ages five to six. Additional multiple-choice questions also
addressed a child’s preferred actions in a classroom with 5000K LED lighting versus 3500K with
choices of 1) sit and listen; 2) move and talk; 3) put my head down and rest; 4) none of the
above. Two questions addressed perceived acuity/clarity of color and objects. One used the same
image and 5000K lamps with different CRI (96 CRI versus 85 CRI). The second used three
images with Kelvin temperature ranges of 3000K, 4600K, and 6000K. Participants selected
which image they perceived to be able to most clearly see color under different color rendering.
Multiple choice questions on a 5-point Likert scale (agree, agree a little, neither agree nor
disagree, disagree a little, disagree, don’t know) were also asked regarding perception of emitted
EFFECT OF LED AND FLUORESCENT LIGHTING ON CHILDREN 16
sounds and flickering from lights; as well as perceived light level changes within their
classroom. A final open-ended question was provided to allow for any additional comments.
Prior to implementing, the survey was reviewed by an elementary school teacher for age
appropriate wording and comprehension. Participants used iPads or a laptop computer to take the
survey.
Design and Procedure
The survey was implemented at a Sunday afternoon event on the grounds of a local
church. The researcher briefed and trained two parent assistants on the aim of the survey and the
Qualtrics survey site link. Participants were greeted and given a brief explanation of the survey
and its purpose, ensuring children there were no wrong answers. The parent assistants were
also available to assist and read any questions for participants, specifically ages five to six. The
survey was intentionally designed to be no more than twenty questions, addressing the attention
span of participant ages; and was implemented in a low-stress, non-school environment to ensure
minimal anxiety of participants. Participants used iPads and a laptop computer to take the survey.
All thirty-two participants completed the survey during the two-hour event.
Results
Lighting and Activity
Children were asked to select a preferred image illustrating LED and fluorescent lighting
for specific activities. A significant majority of participants selected the LED 5000K image for
reading at their desk (77%), drawing and writing (63%), and taking a test (72%) over the
fluorescent 3500K image. The fluorescent 3500K image was preferred slightly more (56%) over
the LED 5000K image (44%) for sitting quietly at the desk. See Table 1.
EFFECT OF LED AND FLUORESCENT LIGHTING ON CHILDREN 17
Lighting and Emotion
Studies by Sleegers, et al., and Mott, et al., illustrated emotional responses based on
different kelvin temperature, with bluer/higher Kelvin temperatures emoting alertness, focus, and
arousal. Four images of the same classroom with different Kelvin temperatures were provided
and children were asked to rate their level of emotion. The classroom using 5000K LED lamps
evaluated alert/focused versus bored/distracting with 63% indicating feeling alert/focused. There
was also a significant level of emotional response to the classroom with 3500K evaluating the
feeling of safe (63%) versus worried (3%). Calm versus excited used an image illustrating
3000K, with an insignificant percentage indicating a feeling of calm (34%). Also, there were
mixed responses to the classroom illustrating 6500K evaluating sleepy (16% sleepy/31% a little
sleepy) versus awake (31% awake, 9% a little awake). See Table 2.
Lighting and Behavior
Two different classrooms were used to illustrate LED 6000K and Fluorescent 3500 and
the child’s perceived behavior that would occur in the lit environment. The behavior choices
were: 1. sit and listen (LED 56%, Fluorescent 34%); 2. move and talk (LED 25%, Fluorescent
28%); 3. Put my head down and rest (LED 9%, Fluorescent 19%); 4. None of the above (LED
9%, Fluorescent 19%). See Table 3.
Lighting and Acuity of Color and Objects
The same image illustrating textiles of primary colors was shown using the same Kelvin
temperature of 5000K but changing the coloring rendering index. Image one had a CRI of 96 and
image two CRI of 85. Most participants rated being able to see the colors more clearly in the first
EFFECT OF LED AND FLUORESCENT LIGHTING ON CHILDREN 18
image CRI 96 (66%) versus the CRI 85 (34%). The visual clarity of objects was evaluated by
using the same image with three different CCT of 3000K, 6000K, and 4600K. Also, over half of
participants (59%) chose the 6000K image as objects being perceived most clearly. See Table 4.
Lighting and Sounds
One of the complaints of fluorescent lamps is the buzzing or humming sound they can
produce due to their ballast. Children were asked if the lights in their classrooms make a buzzing
or humming sound and whether the sound makes them uncomfortable. There was a mixed result
of responses of agree to disagree, with no significant perceived impact regarding sounds from
lighting. See Table 5.
Lighting and Flicker
Flickering can be a negative issue with fluorescent and LED lamps. However, there
wasn’t a significant response of agreement (agree/agree a little, 36%) or disagreement
(disagree/disagree a little, 45%). See Table 6.
Light Levels
Research has shown that adjusting light levels within a classroom can affect children’s
behavior and is a tool often used by teachers. Again, there was not significant agreement (37.5%)
or disagreement (34%), as to whether their teacher changes or lowers the light levels in their
classroom throughout the school day. However, there was a majority agreeing (41%) and
agreeing a little (16%) that they like it when the teach changes the light level. See Table 7.
EFFECT OF LED AND FLUORESCENT LIGHTING ON CHILDREN 19
Comments by Participants
An opportunity for participants to provide comments was given, with many of the
comments regarding how the lighting in their classroom makes them feel or act. Including:
1) Girl; age 11-14: When it’s bright it makes me feel more awake and alert. 2) Girl, age 11-14: I
don’t really care about the amount of lighting in the room, but I like it a little more when it is
darker. 3) Girl, age 7-10: Sometimes my teacher turns the lights on when we are too loud and she
turns off one light when we are reading. 4) Girl, age 7-10: The lighting in my classroom makes
me feel kind of annoyed. 5) Girl, age 7-10: The lighting makes me feel more relaxed if one of the
lights are off. 6) Girl, age 5-6: The light is so bright in my classroom and I don’t like it.
For the complete survey and results, see Appendix A.
Table 1 | Lighting & Activity
I like this room best for reading at my desk: (*Participant 14: no answer provided)
Light Source
%
Count
LED 5000
77.42%
24
FLUOR 3500
22.58%
7
Total
100%
31*
I like this room best for drawing and writing:
Light Source
%
Count
FLUOR 3500
37.50%
12
LED 5000
62.50%
20
Total
100%
32
I like this room best for taking a test:
Light Source
%
Count
LED 5000
71.88%
23
FLUOR 3500
28.13%
9
Total
100%
32
I like this room best for sitting at my desk quietly:
Light Source
%
Count
FLUOR 3500
56.25%
18
LED 5000
43.75%
14
Total
100%
32
EFFECT OF LED AND FLUORESCENT LIGHTING ON CHILDREN 20
Table 2 | Lighting & Emotions
Table 3 | Lighting & Behavior
Table 4 | Lighting & Acuity of Color and Objects
The classroom makes me feel?
Children Ratings (%)
3000 Kelvin
Calm
A little calm
Neither
A little excited
Excited
34.38%
12.50%
21.88%
12.50%
18.75%
6500 Kelvin
Sleepy
A little sleepy
Neither
A little awake
Awake
15.63%
31.25%
12.50%
9.38%
31.25%
5000 Kelvin
Alert/Focused
A little alert/
focused
Neither
A little bored/
distracted
Bored/
distracted
62.50%
12.50%
9.38%
6.25%
9.38%
3500 Kelvin
Safe
A little safe
Neither
A little worried
Worried
62.50%
12.50%
21.88%
0.00%
3.13%
The classroom makes me want to:
Children Ratings (%)
6000K LED
Sit and listen
Move and talk
Put my head down and rest
None of the above
56.25%
25.00%
9.38%
9.38%
3500K FLUOR
Sit and listen
Move and talk
Put my head down and rest
None of the above
34.38%
28.13%
18.75%
18.75%
Which picture can you see the objects more clearly:
Light Source
%
Count
5000 CRI 96
65.63%
21
5000 CRI 85
34.38%
11
Total
100%
32
Which picture can you see the objects more clearly:
Light Source
%
Count
5000 CRI 96
65.63%
21
5000 CRI 85
34.38%
11
Total
100%
32
Which picture can you see the objects more clearly:
Light Source
%
Count
3000 K
21.88%
7
6000 K
59.38%
19
4600 K
18.75%
6
Total
100%
32
EFFECT OF LED AND FLUORESCENT LIGHTING ON CHILDREN 21
Table 5 | Lighting and Sounds
Table 6 | Lighting and Flicker
Table 7 | Light Levels in Classroom
Sometimes the lights in my classroom make a buzzing or humming sound.
Agree
Agree a little
Neither agree
nor disagree
Disagree a
little
Disagree
Don’t know
15.63%
31.25%
18.75%
6.25%
18.75%
9.38%
Hearing the lights make a buzzing or humming sound, bothers me and makes me uncomfortable.
Agree
Agree a little
Neither agree
nor disagree
Disagree a
little
Disagree
Don’t know
24.24%
21.21%
9.09%
6.06%
24.24%
15.15%
The lights in my classroom flicker when the teacher turns them on or while I’m working in my classroom.
Agree
Agree a little
Neither agree
nor disagree
Disagree a
little
Disagree
Don’t know
6.06%
30.30%
3.03%
12.12%
33.33%
15.15%
My teacher changes of lowers the amount of light in my classroom at different times of the school day.
Agree
Agree a little
Neither agree
nor disagree
Disagree a
little
Disagree
Don’t know
37.50%
9.38%
6.25%
3.13%
34.38%
9.38%
I like it when my teacher changes the amount of light in my classroom.
Agree
Agree a little
Neither agree
nor disagree
Disagree a
little
Disagree
Don’t know
40.63%
15.63%
6.25%
9.38%
12.50%
15.63%
EFFECT OF LED AND FLUORESCENT LIGHTING ON CHILDREN 22
Discussion
The purpose of this study was to review current literature and receive input from children
about the impact of lighting on their perceived emotions, attitudes, and behaviors in the
classroom. Most children selected the LED 5000K lit room over FLUOR 3500 for activities that
required concentration. The survey results align with literature and past studies (Sleeger, et al,
2012; Hawes, et al, 2011) that LED lighting at a higher correlated color temperature has a
perceived positive impact on behaviors during activities that require focus such as reading,
drawing, writing, and test taking. The survey results for lighting and emotion was mixed
regarding impact on feeling calm/excited (3000K) and sleepy/awake (6500K). The 6500K image
was the highest CCT illustrated on the survey and possibly supports Smolders & Kort (2016)
findings that CCT over 5000K is more dependent on a person’s current psychological state of
fatigue and how they respond to the level of blue bright light. However, most children agreed
that the 5000K classrooms made them feel alert/focused and the 3500K classroom made them
feel safe. These results support findings that dynamic or tunable lighting within the classroom
may benefit children’s behaviors and performance. (Sleegers, et al, 2012; Mott, et al, 2012;
Hawes, et al, 2011)
Most children selected the LED 6000K classroom for positive behaviors of sitting and
listening, with a mixed result for FLUOR 3500K. These results may have been influenced by the
fact that the 6000K classroom had large windows and daylight, the 3500K classroom also had
large windows, however, the shades were pulled not allowing daylight. Studies indicate that
daylight can also have a positive impact on behavior (Govén, et al, 2009), therefore, this survey
question may not truly reflect the impact of CCT on behavior. Most children perceived the higher
CCT and CRI images as being able to see objects and color more clearly, which is supported in
EFFECT OF LED AND FLUORESCENT LIGHTING ON CHILDREN 23
studies by Veitch & McColl (2001). The effects of sounds and flickering on children’s perceived
attitudes and comfort were mixed and not significant. This may be due to the age of participants,
their ability to recall when not in the environment, and the varied school facilities participants
were recruited from. However, most children indicated they liked it when their teacher changes
the level or amount of light in their classroom. This concept would need to be further studied as
to whether it is the “amount of light” or the color temperature that affects perceived attitude and
behavior.
Prior research and studies indicate that color temperature and light sources can have an
impact on perceptions, behavior, attitudes, and performance. This survey also supports several of
those findings, specifically alertness and focus. However, there are some limitations because the
survey is based on self-reported attitudes and perceptions. Further research and other
methodologies need to occur to better understand the impact of LED versus fluorescent lighting
on children in the classroom. These methodologies should include controlled laboratory
experiments with monitored observation directly measuring behaviors and attitudes. Also, the
concept of dynamic or tunable lighting has limited empirical research and needs to be further
researched based on its impact in the classroom and its economical feasibility to implement.
Conclusion
Lighting within the built environment can have an impact on the well-being, behavior,
and performance of humans. (Smolder & de Kort, 2014) Many studies have examined
fluorescent and LED lighting at various correlated color temperatures within work environments
and classrooms. This study collected survey data based on children’s perceptions with the most
significant results indicating a positive perception of higher Kelvin LED lighting for activities
that require focus, alertness and working at their desk. There were mixed results regarding
EFFECT OF LED AND FLUORESCENT LIGHTING ON CHILDREN 24
perceived emotions, sounds, and flickering. The study presents limitations due to the self-
reported perceptions of children and participant recruitment from various schools. It is suggested
that further studies need to include controlled laboratory settings, teacher input, observation of
children’s behavior and performance, and the effects and feasibility of dynamic and tunable
lighting in the classroom. Understanding the impact of lighting on the behaviors of children in
the classroom and the positive affects on behavior, attitudes and performance is important in
ensuring their academic success, as well as physical, emotional, and cognitive well-being.
EFFECT OF LED AND FLUORESCENT LIGHTING ON CHILDREN 25
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EFFECT OF LED AND FLUORESCENT LIGHTING ON CHILDREN 28
APPENDIX A
Appendix A includes the Data Analysis Report and images utilized for the survey:
Children’s Perception of Lighting in Classrooms: Attitudes | Actions | Acuity
Demographics
Q1 - How old are you?
#
Answer
%
Coun
t
1
5-6 years old
16.13%
5
2
7-10 years old
61.29%
19
3
11-14 years old
22.58%
7
Total
100%
31
Q2 - I am a:
#
Answer
%
Count
1
Boy
31.25%
10
2
Girl
68.75%
22
EFFECT OF LED AND FLUORESCENT LIGHTING ON CHILDREN 29
Total
100%
32
Lighting and Activities
Q3 - I like this room best for reading at my desk.
#
Answer
%
Count
1
77.42%
24
2
22.58%
7
Q4 - I like this room best for drawing and writing.
#
Answer
%
Coun
t
1
37.50%
12
2
62.50%
20
# 1
# 2
#1
#2
EFFECT OF LED AND FLUORESCENT LIGHTING ON CHILDREN 30
Total
100%
32
EFFECT OF LED AND FLUORESCENT LIGHTING ON CHILDREN 31
Q5 - I like this room best for taking a test.
#
Answer
%
Cou
nt
1
71.88
%
23
2
28.13
%
9
Total
100%
32
Q6 - I like this room best for sitting at my desk quietly.
#
Answer
%
C
ount
1
56.2
5%
18
2
43.7
5%
14
Total
100
%
32
#1
#2
#2
#1
EFFECT OF LED AND FLUORESCENT LIGHTING ON CHILDREN 32
EFFECT OF LED AND FLUORESCENT LIGHTING ON CHILDREN 33
Lighting and Emotions
Q7 - The classroom above makes me feel?
#
Answer
%
Coun
t
1
Calm
34.38%
11
2
A little calm
12.50%
4
3
Neither
21.88%
7
4
A little excited
12.50%
4
5
Excited
18.75%
6
Total
100%
32
Q8 - The classroom above makes me feel?
#
Answer
%
Count
1
Sleepy
15.63%
5
2
A little sleepy
31.25%
10
3
Neither
12.50%
4
4
A little awake
9.38%
3
5
Awake
31.25%
10
EFFECT OF LED AND FLUORESCENT LIGHTING ON CHILDREN 34
Total
100%
32
Q9 - The classroom above makes me feel?
#
Answer
%
Co
unt
1
Alert/Focused
62.50
%
20
2
A little alert/focused
12.50
%
4
3
Neither
9.38%
3
4
A little bored/distracted
6.25%
2
5
Bored/Distracted
9.38%
3
Total
100%
32
Q10 - The classroom above makes me feel?
#
Answer
%
Cou
nt
1
Safe
62.50%
20
2
A little safe
12.50%
4
3
Neither
21.88%
7
4
A little worried
0.00%
0
EFFECT OF LED AND FLUORESCENT LIGHTING ON CHILDREN 35
5
Worried
3.13%
1
Total
100%
32
Lighting and Behavior
Q11 - The classroom above makes me want to:
#
Answer
%
Co
unt
1
Sit and listen
56.25
%
18
2
Move and talk
25.00
%
8
3
Put my head down and rest
9.38%
3
4
None of the above
9.38%
3
Total
100%
32
Q12 - The classroom above makes me want to:
#
Answer
%
Co
unt
1
Sit and listen
34.38
%
11
2
Move and talk
28.13
%
9
EFFECT OF LED AND FLUORESCENT LIGHTING ON CHILDREN 36
3
Put my head down and rest
18.75
%
6
4
None of the above
18.75
%
6
Total
100%
32
Lighting and Acuity of Color and Objects
Q13 - Which picture can you see the objects more clearly?
#
Answer
%
Cou
nt
1
65.63
%
21
2
34.38
%
11
Total
100%
32
Q14 - Which picture can you see the objects more clearly?
#1
#2
#2
#1
#3
EFFECT OF LED AND FLUORESCENT LIGHTING ON CHILDREN 37
#
Answer
%
Cou
nt
1
21.88
%
7
2
59.38
%
19
3
18.75
%
6
Total
100%
32
Lighting and Sound
Q15 - Sometimes the lights in my classroom make a buzzing or humming sound.
#
Answer
%
Cou
nt
1
Agree
15.63
%
5
2
Agree a little
31.25
%
10
3
Neither agree nor disagree
18.75
%
6
4
Disagree a little
6.25%
2
5
Disagree
18.75
%
6
6
Don't know
9.38%
3
Total
100%
32
Q16 - Hearing the lights make a buzzing or humming sound bothers me, and makes me
uncomfortable.
EFFECT OF LED AND FLUORESCENT LIGHTING ON CHILDREN 38
#
Answer
%
Cou
nt
1
Agree
24.24
%
8
2
Agree a little
21.21
%
7
3
Neither agree nor disagree
9.09%
3
4
Disagree a little
6.06%
2
5
Disagree
24.24
%
8
6
Don't know
15.15
%
5
Total
100%
33
Lighting and Flicker
Q17 - The lights in my classroom flicker when the teacher turns them on or while I'm
working in my classroom.
#
Answer
%
Cou
nt
1
Agree
6.06%
2
EFFECT OF LED AND FLUORESCENT LIGHTING ON CHILDREN 39
2
Agree a little
30.30
%
10
3
Neither agree nor disagree
3.03%
1
4
Disagree a little
12.12
%
4
5
Disagree
33.33
%
11
6
Don't know
15.15
%
5
Total
100%
33
Light Levels
Q18 - My teacher changes or lowers the amount of light in my classroom at different times
of the school day.
Light Levels cont.
#
Answer
%
Cou
nt
1
Agree
37.50%
12
2
Agree a little
9.38%
3
3
Neither agree nor disagree
6.25%
2
4
Disagree a little
3.13%
1
5
Disagree
34.38%
11
6
Don't know
9.38%
3
Total
100%
32
Q19 - I like it when my teacher changes the amount of light in my classroom.
EFFECT OF LED AND FLUORESCENT LIGHTING ON CHILDREN 40
#
Answer
%
Cou
nt
1
Agree
40.63
%
13
2
Agree a little
15.63
%
5
3
Neither agree nor disagree
6.25%
2
4
Disagree a little
9.38%
3
5
Disagree
12.50
%
4
6
Don't know
15.63
%
5
Total
100%
32
Comments by Participants
Q20 - Is there anything else you would like to tell us about the lighting in your classroom
and how it makes you feel or behave?
Is there anything else you would like to tell us about the lighting in your classroom and how it makes you feel or
behave?
My teacher turns out the lights when it's noisy.
Calm ready to work
The light is so bright in my classroom and I don't like it,
The lighting makes me feel more relaxed if one of the lights are off
When she turns on the lights it looks like dots in front of my face.
I like it dark
The lighting in my classroom also makes me feel kinda annoyed
EFFECT OF LED AND FLUORESCENT LIGHTING ON CHILDREN 41
No but sometimes she turns the lights on when we are too loud and she turns off one light when we are
reading
I don't really care about the amount of lighting in the room, but I like it a little more when it is darker.
When it's bright it makes me feel more awake and alert.
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Thesis
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