Author Archives: Emma Black

Stimulating Learning Through Colour & The Physical Environment

Hi everybody and thanks for letting me be a part of your community; I’m an interior designer currently taking a career break to look after my daughter and (hopefully) have another child later this year; however my brain is turning to mush in the process and I need some mental stimulation!

I wanted to post to kick off a discussion around an area of specialist interest to me, that of the effect of the physical environment on learning and development. Recently a friend of mine asked me for some facts and figures to feed into an article she was writing for her children’s wall sticker site and in being pushed to revisit some of my earlier notes it occurred to me that I could really use some input from those “at the coal face” to test these ideas against…so here it is!

The Thought Provokers:

In 2009, Zhu and Mehta (University of British Columbia) conducted five studies on the effect of colour on cognition, spanning hundreds of subjects, and they found that there was a direct relationship between colour and the human capacity to perform particular work. For example “…red enhances performance on a detail-oriented task, whereas blue enhances performance on a creative task … these effects occur outside of individuals’ consciousness…”

Visual stimulation actually rewires the brain, making stronger connections while fostering visual thinking, problem solving, and creativity (Simmons, 1995).

A study of school design published this January in the respected architectural journal Building and the Environment discovered that classroom design can influence a child’s development by as much as 25% over the course of an academic year. Six of the environmental factors; colour, choice, connection, complexity, flexibility and light, were clearly correlated with grade scores.

It probably goes without saying that I’m a firm believer that colour and moreover visually stimulating environments help kids learn, but I also realise that loads of teachers get great results in plain rooms. What do you guys think? Have you got any experience that supports, contradicts or challenges my views? Thanks for reading!

– Emma