Page 5 - THE Journal, May/June 2018
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#296e92 r: 41
g: 110
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The findings of these three color studies could change how you approach classroom activities.
Can color evoke a level of motivation or affect a student without them ever being aware? Flash something red in front of students before they tackle a test and they may end up doing worse. Expose them to blue and it could inspire creativity. Let them study a green landscape and their concentration might rise.
anagrams.” Each packet included a
red, green, or black participant number written in the upper right corner of each page. Researchers told test subjects to verify the number on each page to ensure they looked at the number before the test. Those who viewed the green or black numbers performed at a similar level
on the anagram test. Participants who viewed a red number performed worse.
associate blue with openness, peace and tranquility,” researchers report. “The benign cues make people feel safe about being creative and exploratory.”
The impact of color on human behavior has long been a topic of interest among researchers in business, marketing and psychology. They want to understand how tweaking product, packaging and advertising design can boost sales. Now researchers have also shown interest in education to determine how color affects learning.
A similar experiment undertaken by researchers at the University of British Columbia sought to understand what color—blue or red—improved brain performance and receptivity to messaging. Over the course of two years, the researchers tracked the performance of more than 600 participants’ performance on six cognitive tasks that required either detail-orientation or creativity.
In a study carried out at the University of Melbourne, 150 university students were given a menial task in which they were supposed to press or not press a key as numbers flashed on their computer screens. Then the students were given a short break midway through the exercise in order
In Western culture, for example, red denotes danger. It’s not a color we like
to see in stressful situations. As a result, according to a study led by a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester, when students are exposed to red, they often do poorly on exams. They associate red with the red pens teachers use to mark errors.
Most of those experiments were run
on computers with a screen that was red, blue, or white. The researchers found that for creative tasks, such as brainstorming, blue cues prompted participants to produce twice as much creative output as when they were exposed to red.
Apparently, that variation affected students’ concentration. According to reports on the experiment, “After the break, concentration levels fell by [eight percent] among the people who saw the concrete roof, whose performance grew less consistent. But among those who saw the green roof, concentration levels rose by [six percent] and performance held steady.”
The research project ran six experiments with 282 U.S. and German undergraduate and high school students. In one of the tests, students completed a testing packet of 15 “moderately difficult
Whereas red has come to denote danger, caution, mistakes and avoidance, “through associations with the sky,
the ocean and water, most people
Avoid wearing red when giving students high-impact tests.
Use different colors to mark mistakes on student work, so that failure isn’t associated with a specific color. Sprinkle red into your presentations and worksheets when you want students to pay attention to the details. Use blue when you want to encourage them to think creatively. Offer “micro-breaks” and have your students view posters or images of green landscapes to help them boost their concentration.
to look at a city rooftop scene on their screens. Half were shown a green rooftop meadow. Others saw a tar-covered rooftop.
Based on these research findings, it’s worth tweaking how you use color:
While researchers continue making new discoveries on how the brain works, consider applying color research in your classroom activities, like worksheets, posters, parent or student information. Color can help nudge responses in whichever direction you desire.

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