Literature teacher Jenna Essenburg engages herself in connecting with the students, enhancing the student-teacher relationship that has a long term effect on academic performance. An enthusiastic teacher influences the attitudes of students resulting in more passion and determination towards the curriculum. (Esteban Alarcon)
Literature teacher Jenna Essenburg engages herself in connecting with the students, enhancing the student-teacher relationship that has a long term effect on academic performance. An enthusiastic teacher influences the attitudes of students resulting in more passion and determination towards the curriculum.

Esteban Alarcon

It’s the little things: Minuscule factors in a classroom impact student learning

May 17, 2017

Miniscule factors within the classroom show significant impacts on the academic success of students, emphasizing the importance of detail in the science of education. Elements from the technology utilized to the temperature of the room exhibit scientifically proven influences on productivity.

According to a study conducted by Healthy Schools, an online education tool,   differing climates in the classroom lead to varying student test scores. The researchers in this study concluded that higher test scores resulted from the ninth graders during testing when placed in comfortable temperatures.

Not only did students perform best in the controlled climates, but the scores decreased by nearly 10 points in the exams conducted within uncomfortable climates. The research put forth promising results, allowing one to conclude that the mere temperature of the room withholds significance in the academic success of the students.

The environment of a classroom is always overlooked when considering the performance of students at school,” sophomore Jared Nolen said. “It often has so many factors that can hurt the overall productivity and charisma of a student.” Nolen also emphasized the importance of temperature and comfort in a classroom.

The physical features of a classroom take an unexpectedly large toll on students’ performance. Though climate takes up an integral part in determining academic performance, Rachel S. Herz’s, an assistant professor of psychology at Brown University,  research paper, emphasizes the impact of odors on the productivity of students in a classroom. A negative association with a particular odor present exhibits a negative influence on performance according to this study conducted in Brown University.

Tests and exams serve as a student’s worst nightmare, but the New York Times says otherwise. Application plays a vital role in student success but often lacks due to students’ reluctance. Test-taking and application of material exhibits greater improvements on acquisition than a number of studying techniques but only receives minimal acknowledgement in classrooms.

“As a Magnet student, I’ve noticed that I need to do things beyond just reviewing the material I learn. There are so many little things that can actually have a big impact, and simple quiz and test taking are one of those miniscule factors that influences my performance. Application is a lot more important than you think,” NC senior Mackenzie Union said.

In the twenty-first century, technology begins to influence the function of classrooms through the students and teaching techniques of the instructors. In the past years, the Cobb County School District implemented the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy in order to enhance the quality of learning in classrooms. Though simply having a smartphone at hand may not deem impactful on student performance, studies say otherwise.  

“Mobile devices make it easy to type and organize notes. Calculator apps can help with math problems. Devices can even replace heavy, paper textbooks,” science news writer Kathiann Kowalski said.

Personal technology offers benefits such as easy access to the internet and efficient communication but puts forth distractions that inhibit students to perform to the best of their ability. Student must find a balance when concerning personal devices in classrooms; students’ mobile technology distract and therefore stymie academic progress.

“Yes, smartphones can be helpful in research, efficiency and whatnot, but they typically pose a distraction that is hard to avoid when they’re in reach. I admit that they probably stop me from learning more than help me,” former NC student Marissa Lee said.

The platform conveying the learning material to the students withholds more importance than expected. Reading from a screen versus reading from paper positively influences comprehension according to Caroline Myrberg and Ninna Wiberg’s research paper.

Research conducted by Kretzschmar et al. resulted in older subjects preferring screens over paper due to the ease of reading the bright, contrasted text, exhibiting the influence technology poses on performance.

Though a screen seems more convenient for comprehension, a Norwegian Study in 2013 contradicted this assumption. Touching and shuffling through paper aided in memorizing the material rather than scrolling through a computer.

Though the platform utilized to communicate the learning material seems unimportant to the performance of students, this miniscule factor in the classroom exhibits influential impacts on the comprehension of students.

Biological factors play an integral role in shaping the performance of students. Physical and mental health in a student dictates the ability to learn and participate.

“I need to be mentally content and physically energetic to be able to do well in class. I think that depression or lack of sleep would totally be an obstacle in the classroom along with malnutrition,” junior Chase Seufert said.

In low income countries, more than 200 million school years are lost per year due to malnutrition and other health inhibitions, according to School and Health. Such dramatic impacts result in over a 630 million IQ point deficit in school systems, exhibiting the importance of health within the classroom.

Lack of sleep seems to be a norm in classrooms but receives little acknowledgement. According to the Sleep Foundation, a strong correlation exists between grade averages and hours of sleep. Not only does lack of sleep cause napping in class, but a mental deficit derives directly from little rest for the brain. Minimal cooperation, along with mental and physical exhaustion, inhibit the ability for a student to perform to the best of their ability.

Teachers serve as one of the most influential factors dictating student performance. Attitude and passion emitted by the professor directly influence participation on students.

“The emphasis of student-centered educational topics is usually on the effect of teachers’ attitudes on students’ academic success with a lack of lifespan developmental perspective,” Mucella Uluga, Melis Seray Ozdenb, and Ahu Eryilmazc said.

Students’ participation in class increases along with the teachers’. When interviewed, NC AP Psychology teacher Melanie Shelnutt mentions “reciprocal determinism,” the factor exhibited when a teacher emits eagerness to teach which leads students to exemplify eagerness in learning.

“The students will not care how much I know until they know how much I care,” Shelnutt said.

Esteban Alarcon

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